A guide to floodplain regulations in Ferguson Township

Date: February 8, 2018

Floodplain conservation and protection are accomplished through the Ferguson Township Code of Ordinances (§27-801 Floodplain Conservation, Part 8, Supplemental Regulations). The intent of this section is to preserve the natural functions of floodplains, protect life and property from the hazards of flooding, properly manage Township waters, and minimize the financial burdens that floods impose on the community.

These regulations stipulate that no construction is permitted in any floodplain throughout the Township. Any proposed construction shall provide a 50-foot buffer between land disturbance and the confirmed flood zone. 

Ferguson Township Zoning Administrator Jeff Ressler, who is also a certified floodplain manager, can assist residents in determining their property location in relation to a floodplain.

FEMA determines the floodplain zones
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) generates the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM). FEMA last revised the maps in 2009.

Zone X on the FIRM indicates an area outside the floodplain.

Zone A indicates an area shown as an approximate floodplain;  the area has not been studied and therefore the elevation has not been determined.

Zone AE on the FIRM is a confirmed floodplain, where FEMA has determined the base flood elevations.

Floodplains provide natural benefits
Homeowners very often view floodplain areas as a potential burden because of the possible risks and expense. The Township strives to preserve them because they provide many natural benefits. Maintaining floodplain areas helps to reduce the number and severity of floods, manage stormwater runoff, and minimize non-point water pollution.

According to the Ordinance, floodplains may be used only for the following, provided such uses and structures do not conflict with the limitations specified in Subsection C of the Ordinance:

1) the tilling of the land, raising of crops, fruits and vegetables, and the raising and keeping of livestock and poultry

2) horticultural uses related to the raising, propagating and selling of trees, shrubs, flowers and other plant materials

3) forestry uses related to the harvesting of lumber products

4) public and private conservation areas for the conservation of open space, water, soil and wildlife resources

5) essential services

6) retaining walls, flood retention dams, culverts and bridges, as permitted by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

7) customary uses accessory to the above

When flood insurance is required or advised
When a home is in a floodplain, flood insurance typically is required if the homeowner has a federally insured mortgage.  

If the property is in a floodplain, but the home is not, the homeowner may qualify for a reduced flood insurance rate.

In areas that are not listed as floodplain, but homes or other structures have flooded, it is advisable to consult with your home insurance provider about available flood insurance options.

For more information about floodplain regulations, consult the Ordinance, or contact Jeffrey Ressler, Zoning Administrator and Certified Floodplain Manager