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No. The building height exemption was added to the existing ordinance, but didn’t change other provisions already in the ordinance. Thus, the building size limitations - which governs how tall the physical size of a building may be - remain the same.
This is simpler to understand with an existing building that’s going to be elevated. It’s the distance from the ground to the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) level, plus up to a maximum of four additional feet. The BFE level differs by location; in some instances, buildings on a single lot may have different BFE levels if a flood zone line runs through the lot. Review How to Read Flood Maps for more information.
Determining how high above ground the minimum flood level (BFE) is for any site can’t be determined until it’s known how high above sea level the land is at. The level of the grade is usually determined by obtaining an Elevation Certificate for the location or building from a land surveyor.
These examples include mathematical expressions. In the following examples the addition symbol (+) will be used and the equals symbol (=).
There are now minimum elevation standards for new buildings. The Building Height Exception doesn’t being to be calculated until those minimums are exceeded. Given that the maximum exception is Base Flood Elevation (BFE) plus four-feet, a maximum three-feet of height exception is possible.
The BFEs are minimum expected flood levels. Deeper flood levels are possible. Additionally, there are substantial flood insurance discounts for every additional foot above BFE (known as freeboard) is up to a maximum four feet.
Note: The current building code requires new and Substantially Improved buildings be elevated to BFE plus one-foot. This height is referred to as the Design Flood Elevation (DFE). By default, these buildings end up having a minimum one-foot of freeboard.
No. The exception only approved a maximum first floor height of 4 feet above the flood level. No City official, board or commission has the authority to allow this to be exceeded. Only another public referendum could change this limitation.
The referendum was designed to assist with the elevation of buildings above flood levels, not to allow the construction of larger buildings. The regulated size of buildings hasn’t changed, only how high those same sized building may be elevated. The 40-foot cap is to ensure that no matter what else may be calculated towards elevation, anything above 40-feet isn’t permitted.
For example: Suppose it’s calculated that the maximum a building might be elevated at the bottom to the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) plus four-feet - would be ten-feet above the ground. However, if adding 10-feet to the bottom of the building would cause the top of the building to be at 42-feet, then the building may only be elevated eight-feet, to the 40-foot limit.
Three different places, depending upon what measurement is needed.
It’s easy to be confused, because at first blush we’re trying to reconcile three different measurements that aren’t directly related to each other:
The only way to reconcile these different measurements is to measure all the relevant heights to one common basis, sea level (NGVD). The following diagram, shows the basic measurements necessary to evaluate utilizing the Building Height Exception. These measurements are all relative to sea level.
This information goes with the diagram of the house: