Most everyone is familiar with the concept of federal flood insurance: A landowner pays a premium to the National Flood Insurance Program, and in exchange, the NFIP insures the landowner’s structures against flood damage. For a community wedged between two rivers and a creek, flood insurance is a fairly big deal.
That’s why Bridgewater is one of a handful of communities in Virginia–and the only one in the Shenandoah Valley–to participate in the Community Rating System. Affiliated with the NFIP, the CRS is designed for communities who want to go the extra mile in terms of flood safety. There are various levels CRS participation. We have been a level eight, meaning that some Bridgewater NFIP policyholders received a 5% discount and others received a 10% discount.
Then, this year, CRS changed its criteria and announced that we would drop to a level nine unless we adopted a zoning change which would require new structures (and some alterations) to be built one foot higher than currently required. That’s a pretty big “ask,” because it could greatly increase expense to our citizens and prohibit some types of building altogether. At level nine, all of our policyholders would get the 5% discount, with no one getting 10% off.
There was also the question of whether the Town should continue participating in CRS at all. There are a couple of reasons that so few localities participate: paperwork (a lot) and the occasional overbearing federal administrator (don’t ask).
So the Town had a choice between CRS Level 9, CRS Level 8, and dropping CRS altogether. At the end of the process, the Town chose CRS Level 9. Dropping out didn’t make sense, because the Town staff is paid to do paperwork and deal with overbearing federal administrators. And changing the zoning rules to remain in Level 8 pitted some of our landowners against others: Some people would get an extra discount at the expense of those yet to build.
If you want to know more about these scintillating issues, just contact Gwen Gottfried at the Town Office.