A. Development Permit Required (44 CFR 60.3 (b) (1)). A development permit is required before construction or development begins within any area of special flood hazard. The permit shall be for all structures including manufactured homes, as set forth in the “Definitions,” and for all development including fill and other activities, also as set forth in the “Definitions.”
B. Application for Development Permit. Application for a development permit shall be made on forms furnished by the City of Snohomish and may include, but not be limited to, plans in duplicate drawn to scale showing the nature, location, dimensions, and elevations of the area in question; existing or proposed structures, fill, storage of materials, drainage facilities, and the location of the foregoing. Specifically, the following information is required:
1. Elevation in relation to mean sea level, of the lowest floor (including basement) of all structures recorded on a current elevation certificate (FF 81-31) with Section B completed by the local official;
2. Elevation in relation to mean sea level to which any structure has been flood proofed;
3. Certification by a registered professional engineer or architect that the flood proofing methods for any non-residential structure meet FEMA flood proofing criteria; and
4. Description of the extent to which a watercourse will be altered or relocated in the proposed development.
C. Designation of the Local Administrator (44 CFR 59.22(b)(1)). The City Planner is the designated local administrator to administer and implement this chapter by granting or denying development permit applications in accordance with its provisions.
D. Permit Review.
1. The City Planner shall review all development permits to determine that the permit requirements of this chapter have been satisfied.
2. The City Planner shall review all development permits to determine that all necessary permits required in this chapter have been obtained from those Federal, State, or local governmental agencies from which prior approval is required. (44 CFR 60.3(a)(2))
3. The City Planner shall review all development permits to determine if the proposed development is located in the floodway. If located in the floodway, assure that the encroachment provisions of this chapter are met.
E. Use of Other Base Flood Data (In A and V Zones) (44 CFR 60.3 (b) (4)). When base flood elevation data has not been provided (in A or V Zones) in accordance with Section 14.270.050 B, Basis for Establishing the Areas of Flood Hazard, the City Planner shall obtain, review, and reasonably utilize any base flood elevation and floodway data available from a Federal, State or other source, in order to administer Sections 14.270.080 A through F of this Chapter.
F. Information to be Obtained and Maintained.
1. Where base flood elevation data is provided through the Flood Insurance Study, FIRM, or required as in SMC 14.270.060 E, the City Planner shall obtain and record the actual (as-built) elevation (in relation to mean sea level) of the lowest floor (including basement) of all new or substantially improved structures, and whether or not the structure contains a basement. (44 CFR 60.3(b)(5)(i)) (The information shall be recorded on a current elevation certificate (FF 81-31) with Section B completed by the City Planner.)
2. For all new or substantially improved flood proofed nonresidential structures where base flood elevation data is provided through the FIS, FIRM, or as required in SMC 14.270.060 E, The City Planner shall:
1. The City Planner shall notify adjacent communities and the Department of Ecology prior to any alteration or relocation of a watercourse, and submit evidence of such notification to the Federal Insurance Administration.
2. The City Planner shall require that maintenance is provided within the altered or relocated portion of said watercourse so that the flood carrying capacity is not diminished.
H. Interpretation of FIRM Boundaries. The City Planner shall provide interpretations where needed, as to exact location of the boundaries of the areas of special flood hazards (e.g. where there appears to be a conflict between a mapped boundary and actual field conditions). The person contesting the location of the boundary shall be given a reasonable opportunity to appeal the interpretation. Such appeals shall be granted consistent with the standards of Section 60.6 of the Rules and Regulations of the National Flood Insurance Program (44 CFR 59-76).
I. Conditions for Variances.
1. Generally, the only condition under which a variance from the elevation standard be issued is for new construction and substantial improvements to be erected on a small or irregularly shaped lot contiguous to and surrounded by lots with existing structures constructed below the base flood level. As the lot size increases the technical justification required for issuing the variance increases.
2. Variances shall not be issued within a designated floodway if any increase in flood levels during the base flood discharge would result.
3. Variances shall only be issued upon a determination that the variance is the minimum necessary, considering the flood hazard, to afford relief.
4. Variances shall only be issued upon:
i. A Showing of good and sufficient cause;
ii. A determination that failure to grant the variance would result in exceptional hardship to the applicant; and
iii. A determination that the granting of a variance will not result in increased flood heights, additional threats to public safety, extraordinary public expense, create nuisances, cause fraud on or victimization of the public, or conflict with existing local laws or ordinances.
5. Variances as interpreted in the National Flood Insurance Program are based on the general zoning law principle that they pertain to a physical piece of property; they are not personal in nature, and they do not pertain to the structure, its inhabitants, economic or financial circumstances. They primarily address small lots in densely populated residential neighborhoods. As such, variances from flood elevations should be quite rare.
6. Variances may be issued for nonresidential buildings in very limited circumstances to allow a lesser degree of flood proofing than watertight or dry-flood proofing, where it can be determined that such action will have low damage potential, complies with all other variance criteria and otherwise complies with recommended FEMA General Standards.
7. Any applicant to whom a variance is granted shall be given written notice that the permitted structure will be built with its lowest floor below the base flood elevation and that the cost of flood insurance will be commensurate with the increased risk.