Earth Image Dot Net  

presents its analysis of the FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs)

Effective in Fairfield County, CT June 18, 2010


This new mapping is based on FEMA's own 2006 Aerial Lidar (Airborne Ground Radar)

 Topographic Survey of the County

and its 2008 Compilation and distribution 

to the Towns of Fairfield County, with an appeal period.


    There being no appeal from Greenwich, this is it:

   You may view the whole mapping set and flood insurance study at the Map Service Center

   For assistance on Elevation Certificates and Flood Insurance Survey Issues, E-Mail


You need to know that FEMA and the survey branches of the Government (NOAA, NGS, etc) have modified the national geo-spatial reference system to eliminate the out-moded concept of sea level.  It never was and never will be level, because the earth and the water are always moving.  They replaced it with a "fixed datum" known as NAVD1988.  This was based on a single tide gauge at Father's Point, Quebec north of Maine's easterly side.  So inside the US, "sea level" now is technically MTL, "Mean Tide Level" where you find it on any beach or estuary.  

Excellent technical discussions are available at  by Jay Doody, LS of CT DOT Right-of-Way Division (State of CT claims to own the land to the line of Mean High Water and to regulate activity to the ill-defined CT DEP "High Tide" line)   and Bill Giel, LS of Rocco V. D'Andrea, Inc.

Here is the FEMA brochure explaining the features of the difference between the old system and the new:  Brochure (Doesn't tackle rising sea levels directly, but FEMA is the big risk-holder, so they will soon enough.)   

You also need to understand that the Town is FEMA's client.  You are your insurance company's client.  FEMA sets up and funds the system, when Congress gets around to voting the appropriation money.


Here are some examples  (2010 new with aqua dots followed by the 1999 shaded only without features map).  

This the Shore Rd approach to Tod's Point in the new system:



And here is the 1999 version to be retired on June 18, 2009.   You can see the hazard elevations are one foot lower. 

But due to datum change (and rising sea levels) your structure is 1.1 ft lower.  So your freeboard is shrinking.  As glaciers melt into rivers, and those rivers flow into the sea,  the mean tides rise.  So will your flood insurance premiums!  



Page 2 went on to say:


"It must be emphasized that all the standards specified in Paragraph 60.3(d) and (e) of the NFIP regulations

must be enacted in a legally enforceable document. This includes adoption of the current effective FIS

report and FIRM to which the regulations apply and other modifications made by this map revision. Some

of the standards should already have been enacted by your community in order to establish initial eligibility

in the NFIP. Your community can meet any additional requirements by taking one of the following


1. Amending existing regulations to incorporate any additional requirements of Paragraph 60.3(d)

and (e);

2. Adopting all the standards of Paragraph 60.3(d) and (e) into one new, comprehensive set of

regulations; or

3. Showing evidence that regulations have previously been adopted that meet or exceed the minimum

requirements of Paragraph 60.3(d) and (e).

Communities that fail to enact the necessary floodplain management regulations will be suspended from

participation in the NFIP and subject to the prohibitions contained in Section 202(a) of the Flood Disaster

Protection Act of 1973 (Public Law 93-234) as amended."


"In addition to your community using the FIS report and FIRM to manage development in the floodplain,

FEMA will use the FIS report and FIRM to establish appropriate flood insurance rates. On the effective

date of the revised FIRM, actuarial rates for flood insurance will be charged for all new structures and

substantial improvements to existing structures located in the identified SFHAs. These rates may be higher

if structures are not built in compliance with the floodplain management standards of the NFIP. The

actuarial flood insurance rates increase as the lowest elevations (including basement) of new structures

decrease in relation to the BFEs established for your community. This is an important consideration for

new construction because building at a higher elevation can greatly reduce the cost of flood insurance."


At a P&Z Hearing on the Cos Cob Power Plant Park on March 9, 2010,  Earth Image explained to the Commission that the shoreline remediation scheme and protection plan were not designed in accord with this mandatory mapping.  The Commission voted 5-0 to approve the plan and proceed, claiming that somehow this plan, which does not yet have its permits from the State of Connecticut, would somehow be "legal non-conforming."


FEMA's notice letter to the Town clearly shows that there no such category exists.  The Town approval of non-compliant designs is reacted to by FEMA's underwriters with higher rates for the whole community.  There is no category of "legal non-compliant," except for Town Zoning purposes.


   For assistance on Elevation Certificates and Flood Insurance Survey Issues, E-Mail



 Memo from the Deputy Town Planner received May 4, 2010:



I hope everyone has had a chance to look at the new maps.  They are still in Casey's office in the Building Department if you would like to take look.  The attached flood zone regulations are scheduled for a special meeting to be held on June 1, 2010.  If there are any questions, issues or concerns please let me know ahead of time so we can work to have an answer before the meeting.


The changes will be indicated in our usual fashion in the legal ad where Strikethrough indicates deletion and Bold indicates words to be added.  However, since I included more of the regulation than needed to provide you with context in the attachment, I highlighted the areas of change so that the headers that are in bold are not confused with areas of change.  These regulations were sent to the DEP, SWRPA, and all neighboring municipalities at least 35 days prior to the 6/1/10 meeting as required pursuant to Section 8-3b of the CT General Statutes.


Purpose of Proposed Change:

On September 22, 2008, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) presented Greenwich with new preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM).  These maps are currently scheduled to become effective on June 18, 2010 by FEMA.  In order for Greenwich to remain eligible in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), Greenwich must adopt revised regulations for development in designated FEMA floodplains that meet or exceed the minimum federal standards of 44 CFR 60.3 and new state requirements prior to the effective date of the community’s new FIRM.  


The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (CTDEP) reviewed our existing floodplain management regulations for compliance with 44 CFR 60.3 and new state requirements. The review indicated that the attached revisions were needed in order to maintain minimum compliance with the NFIP minimum standards and recently enacted state floodplain management requirements.


Summary of Changes:


Changes to reference the revision date of the FIRM maps:

Section 6-139.1 (a) Purpose

Section 6-139.1 (c)(14) Flood Insurance Study (FIS)

Section 6-139.1 (d)(2) General Provisions


Changes to reflect the new datum of North American Vertical Datum (NAVD) of 1988

Section 6-139.1(c)(22) Mean Sea Level

Section 6-139.1(c)(35) Water Surface Elevation


New Definitions in Section 6-139.1 (c):

Base Flood Elevation (BFE)

Existing Manufactured Home Park or Subdivision

Expansion to an Existing Manufactured Home Park or Subdivision

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Historic Structure

Market Value

New Manufactured Home Park or Subdivision



Revisions to Existing Definitions in Section 6-139.1(c). 

Section 6-139.1(c)(9) Coastal High Hazard Area

Section 6-139.1(c)(10) Development

Section 6-139.1(c)(17) Functionally Dependent Facility

Section 6-139.1(c)(30) Start of Construction


Revisions to reflect the designation of special flood hazard areas as simply A, AE, VE (as opposed to A, AE, AO, AI, VE,VO, and VI):

Section 6-139.1 (c)(4) Area of Special Flood Hazard

Section 6-139.1 (d)(2) General Provisions

Section 6-139.1 (f)(11)(A, B, C) Specific Standards 


Revisions to Sections 6-139.1 (f) (9), (11) and (12) regarding the Provision for Flood Hazard Reduction:

Section 6-139.1 (f)(9)(A) Manufactured Homes  (add Sections E and F relating to manufactured homes)

Section 6-139.1 (f)(11)(E) Floodways

Section 6-139.1 (f)(12) Coastal High Hazard Areas (VE Zones) 


Additions to Section 6-139.1(d) General Provisions

Section 139.1(d)(8) Portion of Structure in Flood Zone

Section 139.1(d)(9)   Structures in Two Flood Zones

Section 139.1(d)(10)  Severability 





E-mail sent 1/25/10 regarding new flood maps:

I have attached a letter from FEMA that addresses the new Flood Insurance Rate Maps. Please read this letter carefully. If anybody would like to see the maps they are currently in Casey O'Donnell's office. The Planning and Zoning Commission will have to adopt these maps prior to June 18, 2010 in order to remain eligible to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program.


Attached to the letter is a document titled Final Summary of Map Actions. #2 states that several Letter of Map Changes (LOMCs) will not be reflected on the revised FIRM panels however they will be revalidated free of charge 1 day after the revised FIRM becomes effective through a single revalidation letter that reaffirms the validity of the previous LOMCs. When I inquired with FEMA as to how the validation process works and whether something was needed from the property owner, I received this response:


"It will all happen automatically. When the revalidation letter comes, take a close look at it to make sure that none have been rescinded. That happens very rarely. In that particular unlikely case it might be good for the town to notify the property owner. Otherwise it's pretty seamless."


We will also have to adopt revised regulations for development in designated FEMA floodplains that meet or exceed the minimum federal standards of 44 CFR 60.3 and new state requirements prior to the effective date of the community's new FIRM. Stay tuned on that.


Additional note regarding LOMCs:

The 12/18/09 letter also states that the following properties will NOT be reflected on the final revised FIRM panels because they are being superseded by new detailed flood hazard information or the information available was not sufficient to make a determination.  These LOMCs will no longer be in effect when the revised FIRM becomes effective.  There are opportunities to receive a grandfathering rate if action is taken prior to June 18, 2010.  Please contact Diane Ifkovic at (860) 424-3537 for more information.


Belle Haven Club

McCready residence

Lindermann residence

201 Byram Shore Road

247 Byram Shore Road



DRAFT Text of  Proposed Changes: (click)