[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Ithaca 2-11-1985 by L.L. No. 5-1985; amended in its entirety 5-11-1987 by L.L. No. 9-1987. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Town Board of the Town of Ithaca finds that the potential and/or actual damages from flooding and erosion may be a problem to the residents of the Town of Ithaca and that such damages may include: destruction or loss of private and public housing, damage to public facilities, both publicly and privately owned, and injury to and loss of human life. In order to minimize the threat of such damages and to achieve the purposes and objectives hereinafter set forth, this chapter is adopted.
It is the purpose of this chapter to promote the public health, safety, and general welfare and to minimize public and private losses due to flood conditions in specific areas by provisions designed to:
Regulate uses which are dangerous to health, safety and property due to water or erosion hazards or which result in damaging increases in erosion or in flood heights or velocities;
Require that uses vulnerable to floods, including facilities which serve such uses, be protected against flood damage at the time of initial construction;
Control the alteration of natural floodplains, stream channels and natural protective barriers which are involved in the accommodation of floodwaters;
Control filling, grading, dredging and other development which may increase erosion or flood damages;
Regulate the construction of flood barriers which will unnaturally divert floodwaters or which may increase flood hazards to other lands; and
Qualify and maintain eligibility for participation in the National Flood Insurance Program.
The objectives of this chapter are to:
Protect human life and health;
Minimize expenditure of public money for costly flood-control projects;
Minimize the need for rescue and relief efforts associated with flooding and generally undertaken at the expense of the general public;
Minimize prolonged business interruptions;
Minimize damage to public facilities and utilities, such as water and gas mains, electric, telephone, sewer lines, streets and bridges located in areas of special flood hazard;
Help maintain a stable tax base by providing for the sound use and development of areas of special flood hazard so as to minimize future flood-blight areas;
Provide that developers are notified that property is in an area of special flood hazard; and
Ensure that those who occupy the areas of special flood hazard assume responsibility for their actions.
Unless specifically defined below, words or phrases used in this chapter shall be interpreted so as to give them the meanings they have in common usage and to give this chapter its most reasonable application.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- A request for a review of the Building Inspector's interpretation of any provision of this chapter or a request for a variance.
- AREA OF SHALLOW FLOODING
- A designated AO or VO Zone on a community's Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) with base flood depths from one foot to three feet where a clearly defined channel does not exist, where the path of flooding is unpredictable and indeterminate and where velocity flow may be evident.
- AREA OF SPECIAL FLOOD HAZARD
- The land in the floodplain within a community subject to a one-percent or greater chance of flooding in any given year. This area may be designated as Zone A, AE, AH, AO, A1-99, V, VO, VE or V1-30. It is also commonly referred to as the base floodplain or one-hundred-year floodplain.
- BASE FLOOD
- The flood having a one-percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year.
- That portion of a building having its floor subgrade (below ground level) on all sides.
- Any structure built for support, shelter or enclosure for occupancy or storage.
- The same meaning as "basement."
- Any man-made change to improved or unimproved real estate, including but not limited to buildings or other structures, mining, dredging, filling, paving, excavation or drilling operations located within the area of special flood hazard.
- ELEVATED BUILDING
- A nonbasement building built to have the lowest floor elevated above the ground level by means of fill, solid foundation perimeter walls, pilings, columns (posts and piers) or shear walls.
- EXISTING MANUFACTURED HOME PARK OR SUBDIVISION
- A parcel (or contiguous parcels) of land divided into two or more manufactured home lots for rent or sale for which the construction of facilities for servicing the lots on which the manufactured homes are to be affixed (including, at a minimum, the installation of utilities, either final site grading or the pouring of concrete pads, and the construction of streets) is completed before the effective date of Local Law No. 5-1985.
- FLOOD BOUNDARY AND FLOODWAY MAP (FBFM)
- An official map of the community published by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as part of a riverine community's Flood Insurance Study. The FBFM delineates a regulatory floodway along watercourses studied in detail in the Flood Insurance Study.
- FLOOD HAZARD BOUNDARY MAP (FHBM)
- An official map of a community, issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, where the boundaries of the areas of special flood hazard have been defined but no water surface elevation is provided.
- FLOOD INSURANCE RATE MAP (FIRM)
- An official map of a community on which the Federal Emergency Management Agency has delineated both the areas of special flood hazard and the risk premium zones applicable to the community.
- FLOOD INSURANCE STUDY
- The official report provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The report contains flood profiles, as well as the Flood Boundary - Floodway Map, as elevations of the base flood.
- FLOOD or FLOODING
- A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of normally dry land areas from:
- Any combination of structural and nonstructural additions, changes or adjustments to structures which reduce or eliminate flood damage to real estate or improved real property, water and sanitary facilities, structures and their contents.
- The same meaning as "regulatory floodway."
- FUNCTIONALLY DEPENDENT USE
- A use which cannot perform its intended purpose unless it is located or carried out in close proximity to water, such as a docking or port facility necessary for the loading and unloading of cargo or passengers, shipbuilding and ship repair. The term does not include long-term storage, manufacture, sales or service facilities.
- LOWEST FLOOR
- Lowest level, including basement, cellar, crawl space or garage of the lowest enclosed area.
- MANUFACTURED HOME
- A structure, transportable in one or more sections, which is built on a permanent chassis and designed to be used with or without a permanent foundation when connected to the required utilities. The term also includes park trailers, travel trailers and similar transportable structures placed on a site for 180 consecutive days or longer.
- MEAN SEA LEVEL
- For purposes of the National Flood Insurance Program, the National Geodetic Vertical Datum (NGVD) of 1929 or other datum to which base flood elevations shown on a community's Flood Insurance Rate Map are referenced.
- NEW CONSTRUCTION
- Structures for which the start of construction commenced on or after the effective date of this chapter.
- PRINCIPALLY ABOVE GROUND
- At least 51% of the actual cash value of the structure, excluding land value, is above ground.
- REGULATORY FLOODWAY
- The channel of a river or other watercourse and the adjacent land areas that must be reserved in order to discharge the base flood without cumulatively increasing the water surface elevation more than a designated height as determined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in a Flood Insurance Study or by other agencies as provided in § 157-12B of this chapter.
- START OF CONSTRUCTION
- Includes substantial improvement and means the first placement of permanent construction of the structure (other than a manufactured home) on a site, such as the pouring of slabs or footings, the installation of piles, the construction of columns or any work beyond the stage of excavation. Permanent construction does not include land preparation, such as clearing, grading, and filling; nor does it include the installation of streets and/or walkways; nor does it include excavation for a basement, footings, piers or foundations or the erection of temporary forms; nor does it include the installation on the property of accessory buildings, such as garages or sheds not occupied as dwelling units or not as part of the main structure. For manufactured homes, "start of construction" is the date on which the construction of facilities for servicing the site on which the manufactured home is to be affixed (including, at a minimum, the construction of streets, either final site grading or the pouring of concrete pads, and installation of utilities) is commenced but in any event, no later than the placement of a manufactured home on a foundation.
- A walled and roofed building, a manufactured home, or a gas or liquid storage tank, that is principally above ground.
- SUBSTANTIAL IMPROVEMENT
- Any repair, reconstruction or improvement of a structure, the cost of which equals or exceeds 50% of the market value of the structure either before the improvement or repair is started or, if the structure has been damaged and is being restored, before the damage occurred. For the purposes of this definition, substantial improvement is considered to commence when the first alteration of any wall, ceiling, floor or other structural part of the building commences, whether or not that alteration affects the external dimensions of the structure. The term does not, however, include either:
- (1) Any project for improvement of a structure to comply with existing state or local building, fire, health, sanitary or safety code specifications which are solely necessary to assure safe living conditions; or
- (2) Any alteration of a structure or contributing structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places or a State Inventory of Historic Places.
- A grant of relief from the requirements of this chapter which permits construction or use in a manner that would otherwise be prohibited by this chapter.
This chapter shall apply to all areas of special flood hazard within the jurisdiction of the Town of Ithaca.
[Amended 8-7-1989 by L.L. No. 3-1989]
The areas of special flood hazard have been identified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in a scientific and engineering report entitled "Flood Insurance Study Town of Ithaca, New York, Tompkins County," dated December 19, 1984 with Flood Insurance Rate Maps enumerated on Map Index No. 360851 0001-0025 dated June 19, 1985, and with accompanying Flood Boundary and Floodway Maps enumerated on Map Index No. 360851 0001-0025 dated June 19, 1985.
This chapter is adopted in response to revisions to the National Flood Insurance Program effective October 1, 1986, and shall supersede all previous laws adopted for the purpose of establishing and maintaining eligibility for flood insurance.
In their interpretation and application, the provisions of this chapter shall be held to be minimum requirements, adopted for the promotion of the public health, safety and welfare. Whenever the requirements of this chapter are at variance with the requirements of any other lawfully adopted rules, regulations or ordinances, the most restrictive, or that imposing the highest standards, shall govern.
No development shall occur and no structure shall hereafter be constructed, located, extended, converted or altered and no land shall be excavated or filled without full compliance with the terms of this chapter and any other applicable regulations including receipt of the development permit set forth below together with any building permits required pursuant to any building, zoning or other rule, law, or regulation governing construction. Any violation of the provisions of this chapter by failure to comply with any of its requirements, including violations of conditions and safeguards established in connection with conditions of the permit, shall constitute a misdemeanor. Any person who violates this chapter or fails to comply with any of its requirements shall, upon conviction thereof, be fined not more than $500 or imprisoned for not more than 30 days, or both, for each violation, and in addition, shall pay all costs and expenses involved in the case. Each day of noncompliance shall be considered a separate offense. Nothing herein contained shall prevent the Building Inspector from taking such other lawful action as necessary to prevent or remedy a violation. Any structure found not complying with the requirements of this chapter for which the owner has not applied for and received an approved variance under §§ 157-16 and 157-17 will be declared noncomplying and notification sent to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The degree of flood protection required by this chapter is considered reasonable for regulatory purposes and is based on scientific and engineering considerations. Larger floods can and will occur on rare occasions. Flood heights may be increased by man-made or natural causes. This chapter does not imply that land outside the areas of special flood hazard or uses permitted within such areas will be free from flooding or flood damages. This chapter shall not create liability on the part of the Town of Ithaca, any officer or employee thereof or the Federal Emergency Management Agency for any flood damages that result from reliance on this chapter or any administrative decision lawfully made thereunder.
A development permit shall be obtained before any development or start of construction, whichever occurs earlier, within any area of special flood hazard as established in § 157-6.
The Building Inspector is hereby appointed local administrator to administer and implement this chapter by granting or denying development permit applications in accordance with its provisions.
The Building Inspector may include such conditions to the grant of any development permit as the Building Inspector may reasonably require to carry out the purpose of this chapter, and, further, in consideration of the technical evaluations, all relevant factors and standards specified in other sections of this chapter including, but not limited to, those set forth in § 157-16D below.
Development permit application.
The application for the development permit must be made by the owner of the property, or by a person duly authorized by the owner ("hereinafter collectively referred to as the "owner"), on forms prepared by the Building Inspector.
The following information is required where applicable:
Plans, in duplicate, drawn to scale showing the nature, location, dimension, and elevations of the area in question, existing and/or proposed structures, fill, storage of materials, and drainage facilities;
Elevation in relation to mean sea level of the proposed lowest floor (including basement or cellar) of all structures;
Elevation in relation to mean sea level to which any nonresidential structure will be floodproofed;
When required, a certificate from a licensed professional engineer or architect that the utility floodproofing will meet the criteria in § 157-13C(1);
Certificate from a licensed professional engineer or architect that the nonresidential floodproofed structure will meet the floodproofing criteria in § 157-14;
Description of the extent to which any watercourse or regulated floodway will be altered or relocated as a result of proposed development; and
Such other information as the Building Inspector may reasonably require.
Any permit issued may require that the work for which the permit is granted shall be begun on a date which shall be no more than three months after its issue. The estimated date of completion of the work shall appear on the permit. The Building Inspector may grant extensions of time as the Building Inspector may reasonably determine, taking into account the factors and standards set forth elsewhere in this chapter and the Building Inspector may require additional conditions taking into account such factors and standards and any changes in the physical facts, or in any applicable law, code or regulations, and the extent of the progress of such work at the time of application. Such application for extension shall be made on forms prepared by the Building Inspector.
Duties of owner.
Upon placement of the lowest floor, or floodproofing by whatever means, it shall be the duty of the owner to submit to the Building Inspector a certificate of the elevation of the lowest floor, or floodproofed elevation, in relation to mean sea level. The elevation certificate shall be prepared by or under the direct supervision of a licensed land surveyor or professional engineer and certified by same. When floodproofing is utilized for a particular building, the floodproofing certificate shall be prepared by or under the direct supervision of a licensed professional engineer or architect and certified by same. The Building Inspector shall review all data submitted. Deficiencies detected shall be cause to issue a stop-work order for the project unless immediately corrected.
It shall be the responsibility of the owner to insure that all work and construction has been done in compliance with the requirements of this chapter. The owner shall sign and acknowledge a certificate that the work has been performed and completed in accordance with all provisions of this chapter and the conditions of a permit. The Building Inspector may also require that such a certificate be signed by a competent person who has supervised or examined the work.
Duties of the Building Inspector shall include, but not be limited to:
Permit application review.
Review all development permit applications to determine that the requirements of this chapter have been satisfied.
Review all development permit applications to determine that all necessary permits have been obtained from those federal, state, or local governmental agencies from which prior approval is required.
Use of other base flood and floodway data. When base flood elevation data has not been provided in accordance with § 157-6, Basis for establishing areas of special flood hazard, the Building Inspector shall obtain, review and reasonably utilize any base flood elevation and floodway data available from a federal, state or other source, including data developed pursuant to § 157-13D(4), in order to administer § 157-14, Specific standards, and § 157-15, Floodways.
Information to be obtained and maintained.
Obtain and record the actual elevation, in relation to mean sea level, of the lowest floor, including basement or cellar, of all new or substantially improved structures and whether or not the structure contains a basement or cellar.
Maintain for public inspection all records pertaining to the provisions of this chapter, including variances when granted and certificates of compliance.
Alteration of watercourses.
Notify adjacent communities and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation prior to any alteration or relocation of a watercourse, and submit evidence of such notification to the Federal Insurance Administrator.
Require that maintenance is provided within the altered or relocated portion of said watercourse so that the flood-carrying capacity is not diminished.
Interpretation of FIRM boundaries.
The Building Inspector shall have the authority to make interpretations when there appears to be a conflict between the limits of the federally identified area of special flood hazard and actual field conditions.
The Building Inspector shall use flood information from any other authoritative source, including historical data, to establish the limits of the area of special flood hazards when base flood elevations are not available.
All floodplain development or construction found ongoing without an approved development permit, or any other required permits, shall be subject to the issuance of a stop-work order by the Building Inspector. Disregard of a stop-work order shall be subject to the penalties described in § 157-8 of this chapter.
All floodplain development found to be not complying with the provisions of this chapter and/or the conditions of the approved permit shall be subject to the issuance of a stop-work order by the Building Inspector. Disregard of a stop-work order shall be subject to the penalties described in § 157-8 of this chapter.
Inspections. The Building Inspector or, if required by the Building Inspector, the owner's engineer or architect shall make periodic inspections at appropriate times throughout the period of construction in order to monitor compliance with permit conditions and enable the person who is conducting the inspection to certify that the development is in compliance with the requirements of either the development permit or the approved variance.
Certificate of compliance or certificate of occupancy.
[Amended 5-12-2014 by L.L. No. 4-2014]
It shall be unlawful to use or occupy or to permit the use or occupancy of any building or premises, or both, or part thereof hereafter created, erected, changed, converted or wholly or partly altered or enlarged in its use or structure until a certificate of compliance or certificate of occupancy has been issued by the Building Inspector stating that the building or land conforms to the requirements of this chapter.
All other development occurring within the designated flood hazard area will have upon completion a certificate of compliance issued by the Building Inspector.
All certifications shall be based upon the inspections conducted subject to Subsection G, the certification of professionally qualified representatives made pursuant to Subsection G and/or any certified elevations, hydraulic information, floodproofing, anchoring requirements or encroachment analysis which may have been required as a condition of the approved permit.
In all areas of special flood hazard the following standards are required:
All new construction and substantial improvements shall be anchored to prevent flotation, collapse or lateral movement of the structure resulting from hydrodynamic and hydrostatic loads, including the effects of buoyancy.
All manufactured homes shall be installed using methods and practices which minimize flood damage. Manufactured homes must be elevated and anchored to resist flotation, collapse or lateral movement. All manufactured homes to be placed or substantially improved shall be elevated on a permanent foundation such that the lowest floor of the manufactured home is at or above the base flood elevation and be securely anchored to an adequately anchored foundation system in accordance with the following requirements:
Over-the-top ties shall be provided at each of the four corners of the manufactured home, with two additional ties per side at intermediate locations, with manufactured homes less than 50 feet long requiring one additional tie per side.
Frame ties shall be provided at each corner of the home with five additional ties per side at intermediate points, with manufactured homes less than 50 feet long requiring four additional ties per side.
All components of the anchoring system shall be capable of carrying a force of 4,800 pounds; and
Any additions to the manufactured home shall be similarly anchored.
Construction materials and methods.
All new construction and substantial improvement shall be constructed with electrical, heating, ventilation, plumbing, and air-conditioning equipment, and other service facilities that are designed and/or located so as to prevent water from entering or accumulating within the components during conditions of flooding. When designed for location below the base flood elevation, a professional engineer's or architect's certification is required that such utilities meet this specification;
All new and replacement water supply systems shall be designed to minimize or eliminate infiltration of floodwaters into the system;
New and replacement sanitary sewage systems shall be designed to minimize or eliminate infiltration of floodwaters into the systems and discharge from the systems into floodwaters; and
On-site waste disposal systems shall be located to avoid impairment to them or contamination from them during flooding.
All subdivision proposals, including proposed manufactured home parks or subdivisions, shall be consistent with the need to minimize flood damage;
All subdivision proposals, including proposed manufactured home parks or subdivisions, shall have public utilities and facilities such as sewer, gas, electrical and water systems located and constructed to minimize flood damage;
All subdivision proposals, including proposed manufactured home parks or subdivisions, shall have adequate drainage provided to reduce exposure to flood damage; and
Base flood elevation data shall be provided for subdivision proposals and other proposed developments (including proposals for manufactured home parks and subdivisions) greater than either 50 lots or five acres.
In all areas of special flood hazard in which base flood elevation data is available pursuant to § 157-12B or 157-13D(4) and no floodway has been determined the cumulative effects of any proposed development, when combined with all other existing and anticipated development, shall not increase the water surface elevation of the base flood more than one foot at any point.
In all areas of special flood hazard where base flood elevation data has been provided as set forth in § 157-6, Basis for establishing areas of special flood hazard, and § 157-12B, Use of other base flood data, the following standards are required:
Residential construction. New construction and substantial improvement of any residential structure shall have the lowest floor, including basement or cellar, elevated to or above the base flood elevation.
New construction and substantial improvements of any commercial, industrial or other nonresidential structure, together with attendant utility and sanitary facilities, shall either have the lowest floor, including basement or cellar, elevated to or above the base flood elevation or be floodproofed so that the structure is watertight below the base flood level with walls substantially impermeable to the passage of water. All structural components located below the base flood level must be capable of resisting hydrostatic and hydrodynamic loads and the effects of buoyancy.
If the structure is to be floodproofed:
A licensed professional engineer or architect shall develop and/or review structural design, specifications and plans for the construction and shall certify that the design and methods of construction are in accordance with accepted standards of practice to make the structure watertight, with walls substantially impermeable to the passage of water and with structural components having the capability of resisting hydrostatic and hydrodynamic loads and the effects of buoyancy; and
A licensed professional engineer or licensed land surveyor shall certify the specific elevation (in relation to mean sea level) to which the structure is floodproofed.
The Building Inspector shall maintain on record a copy of all such certificates noted in this section.
Located within areas of special flood hazard are areas designated as floodways (see definition, § 157-4). The floodway is an extremely hazardous area due to high-velocity floodwaters carrying debris and posing additional threats from potential erosion forces. When floodway data is available for a particular site as provided by §§ 157-6 and 157-12B, all encroachments, including fill, new construction, substantial improvements and other development, are prohibited within the limits of the floodway unless a technical evaluation demonstrates that such encroachments shall not result in any increase in flood levels during the occurrence of the base flood discharge and no manufactured home shall be placed within the limits of the floodway except in an existing manufactured home park or existing manufactured home subdivision.
The Zoning Board of Appeals as established by the Town Board shall hear and decide appeals and requests for variances from the requirements of this chapter.
The Zoning Board of Appeals shall hear and decide appeals when it is alleged that there is an error in any requirement, decision or determination made by the Building Inspector in the enforcement or administration of this chapter.
Those aggrieved by the decision of the Zoning Board of Appeals, or any taxpayer owning property in the Town of Ithaca who may have a significant interest in the decision and proceedings on which it was based, may appeal such decision to the Supreme Court pursuant to Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules.
In passing upon such applications, the Zoning Board of Appeals shall consider all technical evaluations, all relevant factors, standards specified in other sections of this chapter and:
The danger that materials may be swept onto other lands to the injury of others;
The danger to life and property due to flooding or erosion damage;
The susceptibility of the proposed facility and its contents to flood damage and the effect of such damage on the individual owner;
The importance of the services provided by the proposed facility to the community;
The necessity to the facility of a waterfront location, where applicable;
The availability of alternative locations for the proposed use which are not subject to flooding or erosion damage;
The compatibility of the proposed use with existing and anticipated development;
The relationship of the proposed use to the Comprehensive Plan and Floodplain Management Program of that area;
The safety of access to the property in times of flood for ordinary and emergency vehicles;
The costs to local governments and the dangers associated with conducting search and rescue operations during periods of flooding;
The expected heights, velocity, duration, rate of rise and sediment transport of the floodwaters and the effects of wave action, if applicable, expected at the site; and
The costs of providing governmental services during and after flood conditions, including search and rescue operations and maintenance and repair of public utilities and facilities, such as sewer, gas, electrical and water systems and streets and bridges.
Upon consideration of the factors of Subsection D and the purposes of this chapter, the Zoning Board of Appeals may attach such conditions to the granting of variances as it deems necessary to further the purposes of this chapter.
The Zoning Board of Appeals shall maintain the records of all appeal actions, including technical information, and report any variances to the Federal Emergency Management Agency upon request.
Generally, variances may be issued for new construction and substantial improvements to be erected on a lot of 1/2 acre or less in size contiguous to and surrounded by lots with existing structures constructed below the base flood level, provided that § 157-16D(1) through (12) have been fully considered. As the lot size increases beyond the 1/2 acre, the technical justification required for issuing the variance increases.
Variances may be issued for the reconstruction, rehabilitation or restoration of structures and contributing structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places or the State Inventory of Historic Places without regard to the procedures set forth in the remainder of this section.
Variances may be issued for new construction and substantial improvements and for other development necessary for the conduct of a functionally dependent use, provided that:
Variances shall not be issued within any designated floodway if any increase in flood levels during the base flood discharge would result.
Variances shall only be issued upon a determination that the variance is the minimum necessary, considering the flood hazard, to afford relief.
Variances shall be issued only upon:
A showing of good and sufficient cause;
A determination that failure to grant the variance would result in exceptional hardship to the applicant; and
A determination that the granting of a variance will not result in increased flood heights, additional threats to public safety or extraordinary public expense, create nuisances, cause fraud on or victimization of the public or conflict with existing local laws or ordinances.
Any applicant to whom a variance is granted for a building with the lowest floor below the base flood elevation shall be given written notice that the cost of flood insurance will be commensurate with the increased risk resulting from lowest floor elevation.