South Bethany Tables Votes on Sea Level Rise - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

South Bethany Tables Votes on Sea Level Rise

Posted:
SOUTH BETHANY, De. - The South Bethany Council debated a pair of ordinances meant to protect homeowners against flooding for more than three hours Wednesday, before tabling the vote until a later date. At the meeting, members from a town committee on sea level rise presented their data, but they were met with opposition from some homeowners who thought the action was premature.  

The first ordinance related to the Flood Base Elevation (FBE) of these homes. Currently the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) dictates how high homes need to elevate, in order to meet their criteria. This ordinance would mandate that all new, at-risk homes build an additional three feet of elevation to this base.

To accommodate this first change, a second ordinance was pitched by the committee as well, which would allow these homes to build an additional two feet to the building itself. This would have raised the height limits from 32 feet to 34 feet in South Bethany. 

The first ordinance was not even voted on, after committee members said there was apparently a lot of doubts from council members. The council did vote on the second ordinance, rejecting it by a vote of 4 to 3. Committee members told WBOC they plan to go back to the drawing board, and will re-pitch these ordinances after doing more analysis. 

Councilman George Junkin lead the committee and was one of the main advocates for the ordinance change. He said that the FIRM requirements were adequate for the time being. However, he told WBOC that sea level rise would be problematic within the next decade. He said the additional three feet would help protect homes from damage. 
       
"We want to protect their property," he said. "And if they build just to the food base elevation, they have a very high probability of getting their homes damaged."

Junkin said that in the past, relying on FIRM mandates has left homes under-prepared for flooding.

“In the 90's there were houses built right to the limit with no margin," he said. "And they quite often had damage above what they defined as in the base flood elevation."

At the meeting though, Junkin was met with opposition from various local homeowners who thought the change would be burdensome and unnecessary. One of those people was Bob Coleman, an engineer from South Bethany. Coleman told WBOC that the estimates for Sea Level rise were greatly exaggerated in his opinion. 

“I’m concerned about conclusions that people are drawing from the tidal data," he said. "I think they're erroneous conclusions.”

Both the committee and Coleman looked at the same tidal data over a period of 14 years. However, their separate analysis of the same data were at ends with each other. Coleman said that in his interpretation, the data showed a limited rise over the time period, whereas the committees work demonstrated a trend towards a major rise over the next couple decades. 

“I don’t question the tidal data," said Coleman. "I think it’s from reliable sources. I just think the analysis that was done on it is incorrect from a statistical point of view.”

WBOC took this question to the Delaware Center for Inland Bays where we spoke with Chris Bason, an expert on sea level rise and the Delaware bays. He said that in his opinion, the statistics demonstrate that sea level is on the rise. He said this problem expands far beyond just South Bethany. 

"The state of Delaware is projecting sea level to rise over the next 100 years by 1.6 feet to 5 feet,” he said.  

Bason said that he was in support of the committee's proposal, arguing that more communities needed to prepare for sea level increases across the state. 

"Anybody that lives near sea level in a coastal town like that needs to be thinking about the future in terms of sea level rise," he said.  
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Updated: Fire Ruins Historical Hebron Church

    Updated: Fire Ruins Historical Hebron Church

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 4:31 PM EDT2014-07-22 20:31:09 GMT
    Fire has destroyed the historical St. Paul's Episcopal Church located on westbound Route 50 in Hebron.More
    Authorities are investigating a Tuesday fire that destroyed the historical St. Paul's Episcopal Church at the corner of Memory Gardens Lane and Route 50 in Hebron, Md. Preliminary damage is estimated at approximately $500,000.More
  • Two Killed in Del. Crash

    Two Killed in Del. Crash

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 11:45 AM EDT2014-07-22 15:45:19 GMT
    Delaware State Police say two Dover men were killed Monday night after the tow truck they were riding in went off the road and crashed into a telephone pole near Little Creek.More
    Delaware State Police say two Dover men were killed Monday night after the tow truck they were riding in went off the road and crashed into a telephone pole near Little Creek. More
  • Federal Appeals Court Deals Blow to Health Law

    Federal Appeals Court Deals Blow to Health Law

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 11:46 AM EDT2014-07-22 15:46:35 GMT
    A federal appeals court has delivered a serious setback to President Barack Obama's health care law, potentially derailing subsidies for many low- and middle-income people who have bought policies.More
    A federal appeals court has delivered a serious setback to President Barack Obama's health care law, potentially derailing subsidies for many low- and middle-income people who have bought policies.More
Powered by WorldNow

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and WBOC. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service