Zoning regulations are one of the most powerful tools communities have to promote appropriate growth. Zoning bylaws and ordinances allow communities to reduce conflicts by clearly defining areas appropriate for growth, as well as areas where growth should be discouraged or prohibited. Consider adopting zoning that directly decreases risk to people and property. To maximize its legal power, zoning regulations should clearly explain why your community wishes to discourage or prohibit growth in the coastal floodplain, and should be consistently applied across permitting boards and departments. See legal issues.
The following resources provide additional information about zoning:
- The Massachusetts Law About Zoning site has general information on zoning regulations in Massachusetts.
- In 2001, the Massachusetts Attorney General released A Guidebook for Adopting Zoning By-Laws to guide communities through the legal process of creating bylaws, including information on public hearings.
- The StormSmart Coasts Fact Sheet 2, No Adverse Impact and the Legal Framework of Coastal Management (PDF, 1.82 MB) explains the legal issues surrounding regulating land use in coastal floodplains.
- These Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) publications provide zoning information:
- Section 2.3 of FEMA’s Coastal Construction Manual has general information on siting and the appropriateness of specific areas for different types of structures. To obtain a free copy of the Coastal Construction Manual (in print or on a CD), contact the FEMA Publications Distribution Facility at (800) 480-2520.
- Fact Sheet 6 from FEMA’s Home Builder’s Guide to Coastal Construction series explains how planning, siting, and design decisions affect coastal home costs.
- Fact Sheet 7 from FEMA’s Home Builder’s Guide to Coastal Construction series provides guidance on lot selection and siting considerations for coastal residential buildings.
- StormSmart Coasts Fact Sheet 3: A Cape Cod Community Prevents New Residences In Floodplains (PDF, 5.52 MB) discusses how Chatham has set an example with its own zoning bylaw (PDF 310 KB), which prohibits construction of residences in certain areas known to flood (including the entire 100-year floodplain as mapped on their FIRMs). The bylaw was challenged, but upheld by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.
- The Cape Cod Commission and Sea Grant have released a Model Bylaw For Effectively Managing Coastal Floodplain Development, which recommends that communities prohibit all new or expanded non-water dependent structures in the coastal high hazard zone. The model also contains a technical report to support its higher standards.
* Your community needs only 500 points to qualify for reduced flood insurance premiums through the Community Rating System (CRS). For more information (including how to apply for the CRS program), see our Community Rating System (CRS) primer.
Notes from the folks at CRS:
“Low density zoning credit is provided for limiting development to no more than one building per acre. Credit increases as the allowable density decreases to one building to 10 acres.”