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Conservation Commission Supports Adding River Corridors to Putney’s Flood Protection Regulations

Conservation Commission Supports Adding River Corridors to Putney’s Flood Protection Regulations
Public Hearing next Tuesday, July 10 at 7 pm at the Putney Fire Station
Putney residents are invited to a Public Hearing next Tuesday, July 10 at 7 pm at the Fire Station to discuss whether the town should regulate development in state-mapped river corridors along Sacketts and East Putney Brooks. Proposed regulations also call for 50-foot setbacks from the top-of-bank of smaller streams to protect buildings from erosion damage. Both state-mapped river corridors and FEMA-mapped flood plains are areas deemed dangerous for development. Also, if left mainly undeveloped, these areas will continue to provide natural erosion and inundation protection for Putney, as they did during Tropical Storm Irene. The Putney Conservation Commission supports adoption of the proposed regulations for the following reasons:
1. Putney’s current zoning requires a 75-foot set-back for any structure proposed to be built along either East Putney or Sacketts Brook. In contrast, the state’s river corridor maps scientifically identify brook-side areas which are susceptible to erosion damage and channel shifts. If adopted, new regulations would prohibit new housing, but allow limited expansion of existing homes, within areas the state has specifically identified as dangerous. Therefore, adoption of the proposed regulations should help minimize property loss and harm to people. The Commission believes the specificity of river corridor maps is a great improvement over the blanket 150-foot, no-build strip along each brook.
2. River Corridor regulations will help assure fairness and safety for all stream bank owners. Confining a stream’s movement in one place merely transfers the stream’s energy and erosive power to another place. By limiting development in an entire river corridor, the regulations will provide space for the brook to move naturally along its entire length without creating problems for any specific property owner(s).
3. Each time a structure is built in a flood plain, it takes up space where excess water used to be stored during floods. This loss of flood water storage results in an unfair increase in flood levels elsewhere. Since 1985 Putney zoning has incorporated FEMA rules which do not allow unfair increases in 100-year flood levels due to development in FEMA-mapped flood plains. These rules are up-dated and included in the proposed regulations. (FEMA up-dated Putney’s flood plain maps in 2007.)
4. Many of the costs of repairing flood damage fall to the Town as a whole. The proposed regulations not only will help minimize flood damage and repair expenses, but also will qualify Putney for more state assistance following a nationally-declared flood disaster.
5. There is an unintended result of Putney adopting the proposed “Flood and Fluvial Erosion Hazard Regulations” which the Conservation Commission welcomes: Wild animals and plants tend to follow streams to move through landscapes. Keeping portions of stream sides natural may help Putney’s wildlife travel to find the food, water and cover they need and also our help native plants spread their seeds.