The current effective FEMA floodplain maps for Boulder County are the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) dated December 18, 2012.
The 2013 flood event caused widespread damage and changes along waterways throughout the county and other areas of the state. In response, the State of Colorado is taking steps towards bolstering long-term planning and resiliency efforts by funding the Colorado Hazard Mapping Program (CHAMP) that will update local hazard information including regulatory floodplain maps for the most affected waterways.
Boulder County is supporting this initiative because accurate floodplain maps provide detailed information for property owners on their own flood risks and enable proactive measures to protect people and property before the next significant flood event.
Work on the new floodplain maps has begun. Learn more about the county’s involvement in the Floodplain Remapping Project.
Proposed Land Use Code Text Amendments to Floodplain Regulations and Related Provisions
On Sept. 17, 2015, the County Commissioners authorized staff to pursue text amendments to floodplain regulations in Boulder County Land Use Code Article 4-400 and related provisions in Article 3 (Processes), Article 4 (Zoning), and Article 18 (Definitions).
The September 2013 Flood Event significantly changed the real-world floodplain areas throughout Boulder County. Under current Land Use Code regulations, both the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB and FEMA must approve changes to the boundaries of the Floodplain Overlay District; the result is that it takes a long time to update the regulatory maps and studies the County staff are using to reflect the County’s real-world floodplain areas. While the County Engineer currently has the authority to regulate in the floodplain based on best available data that has not been approved by FEMA and the CWCB, provisions do not currently exist in the Code for a public process to keep citizens informed about the existence of best available data that may affect them. This can result in confusion for residents about the data by which they are being regulated.
The Transportation Department Floodplain Management Team, in collaboration with the Land Use Department, would like to explore revisions to the Floodplain Overlay District provisions of the Code to allow more accurate reflection of real-world conditions post-Flood and to more effectively and efficiently incorporate best available data into our regulatory scheme. This will allow County staff to better protect the health, safety, and welfare of the residents of and visitors to Boulder County and afford residents an opportunity to be part of the process of incorporating best available data and to have certainty about the regulations and associated mapping that affects property in the County.
Staff would also like to explore changes to or elimination of Article 4-408, which addresses nonconforming uses and structures within the Floodplain Overlay District, to bring floodplain regulations into conformance with the general nonconforming uses and structures language of Articles 4-1000 to 4-1003, in order to create a more transparent, comprehensible regulatory scheme for staff and the public alike. Similarly, staff would like to explore changes to Article 4-409, which addresses appeals and variances to decisions made by the County Engineer based upon or made in the administration or enforcement of the floodplain regulations, to bring floodplain appeals and variances into conformance with the general appeals and variance language of Article 4-1201.
Finally, staff will explore updates to related provisions in the code in order to best protect the health, safety, and welfare of Boulder County residents. No changes to the floodplain maps which define the floodplain overlay district will occur as part of this regulatory update.