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Darien Residents Question Expansion Of Flood Areas On New Maps

Darien Planning and Zoning Director Jeremy Ginsberg discusses the new FEMA flood maps, which has some residents upset.
Darien Planning and Zoning Director Jeremy Ginsberg discusses the new FEMA flood maps, which has some residents upset. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue

DARIEN, Conn. – Several Darien residents are seeking answers to questions about new flood maps that place their homes in flood zones -- and could increase their insurance rates.

The town recently released new flood maps for the Stony Brook and Goodwives River watersheds, which will take effect in August or September. The maps were devised by FEMA based on hydraulic studies by Milone and MacBroom, an engineering firm hired by the town after flooding in 2006 and 2007.

Some residents said they are upset that they are now placed in flood zones, when they have not experienced flooding in the past.

“Unfortunately, for someone like me, who has never seen a drop of water spill over the Goodwives River during three 100-year storms in 2006 an 2007, I can’t understand why I now have to pay some $3,000 a year for flood insurance,” said Flora Smith of Hamilton Lane. “It doesn’t make sense. None of our properties have ever flooded. So all we’re asking for is, 'What was the criteria used?'”

“My concern really focuses on how we’re dealing with whether the maps are accurate and whether we’ve drawn them too conservatively,” said Todd Billeter, another Hamilton Lane resident. “It’s even more concerning to me that one can be inappropriately put in a flood zone, and all we’ve done is increase the cost of home ownership and reduced the values of homes in Darien.”

Planning and Zoning Director Jeremy Ginsberg said his office has met with about 100 residents who have questions about the new flood zones. Many residents are very close to the flood line, he said, and town topographical maps must be looked at closely to determine where the flood lines are in relation to the houses.

“I think the questions these folks have, which are good questions, is, 'When Milone and MacBroom ran their computer model with their analysis to arrive at these maps, what was changed from the existing flood maps?'” Ginsberg said.

He encouraged people to email him with questions about the flood zones, and he would try to find the answers. He said he would try to get Milone and MacBroom to come to town soon for a public information session to answer some questions.

First Selectman Jayme Stevenson said the remapping was done as a result of public outcry after the 2006 and 2007 flooding. The town is working to find answers, she said, and she encouraged anyone who has not experienced flooding to appeal their designation to FEMA. She also said she would be interested in holding a public information session with Milone and MacBroom.

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