Members of a Jacksonville committee looking at infrastructure and resiliency against storms agree they need to bring in a consultant as they look to protect the city.
During Friday’s meeting of the Storm Resiliency and Infrastructure Development Review Committee (SRAIDRC), Chair Sam Mousa said the city needs to seek professional help to develop a long term strategic plan to improve the resiliency of existing infrastructure in the city - something he’s confident Mayor Lenny Curry will get behind.
— Brendan Rivers (@BrendanRivers) April 26, 2019
Also on Friday, the committee voted in favor of recommendations to be introduced to the city council via ordinance, including:
- Prohibiting developments from being built within 25 feet of floodways - the low-lying areas next to rivers and streams where development is regulated to prevent increased flooding upstream
- Raising the minimum finished-floor elevation of new developments in a special flood hazard area to 2-feet above Base Flood Elevation
The first step in the committee’s proposed long-term strategic plan is to update Jacksonville’s Master Stormwater Management Plan (MSMP) to reflect sea level rise projections and models of storm conditions.
The committee will then look to identify specific critical infrastructure that needs to be hardened based on the updated MSMP (such as roadways, emergency facilities, seawalls and bulkheads), determine the scope of improvements needed, estimate costs, prioritize those improvements and then get approval in the city’s Capital Improvement Plan.
Mousa said that process could take as long as 20 months. He expects this committee to be done with its work by the end of June.
As for hiring the planning consultant, the committee hopes to have a request for proposal drafted within the next month and selection made within the next four months.
An ongoing conversation among committee members has been how to lower flood insurance premiums for property owners in the city through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Community Rating System (CRS). Residents who live in communities with high enough scores can save between 5% and 45% on flood insurance premiums.
Related: Jacksonville Resiliency Committee Considers New Construction Standards
The committee is looking at the city of Palm Coast to figure out how to improve Jacksonville’s CRS Score. In 2017, Palm Coast’s score was raised and now the city has one of the highest scores in the nation. City leaders credited a number of factors to that increased rating, including several mitigation projects that reduced flooding.
Palm Coast has a CRS score of 3,061 (based on a 2016 assessment prior to the adoption of new regulations), compared to Jacksonville’s 2,391, out of a possible 12,654. The average score nationwide is 2,537.
On Friday, City Councilwoman Lori Boyer - a member of the committee- said the greatest opportunity for Jacksonville to improve its CRS score is in the areas of regulation and open space preservation.
In the category of higher regulatory standards there is a total possible score of 2042. Jacksonville currently has a score of 177. The national average is 270.
When it comes to open space preservation, the maximum number of points a community can achieve is 2020. Jacksonville has a score of 749, compared to a national average of 509.
The resiliency committee meets from 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. every other Friday in the Mayor’s large conference room, Suite 400, at City Hall, 117 W. Duval St. Every meeting is open to the public and includes time for public comment. The next meeting is May 10.