Officials Eye Funding For OC Projects

OCEAN CITY – A progress report on the town’s hazard mitigation plan highlighted efforts to secure grant funding for two flood prevention projects.

Last week, Planning and Community Development Director Bill Neville presented the Mayor and Council with a progress report on the resort’s hazard mitigation plan. He noted it would be the first presentation since the plan was updated earlier this year.

“Technically it’s not a full year since the adoption and approval by FEMA this last March,” Neville told officials last week. “But this is an important part of the requirement to maintain and work with our hazard mitigation plan. And by providing the report this evening, we meet one of the requirements of our community rating system that provides the flood insurance discount for properties in town.”

Every five years, the town is tasked with updating its hazard mitigation plan, which identifies Ocean City’s long-term strategies for reducing disaster losses and breaking the cycle of repeated damage. The plan not only allows the Town of Ocean City to secure mitigation grants but meets the requirements of the town’s community rating system, administered by FEMA.

Working with a consulting firm, the town began updating its hazard mitigation plan last year. And in March, the council approved those changes in the form of a resolution.

Neville told the Mayor and Council last week the plan’s mitigation actions have since been reviewed by members of the hazard mitigation planning committee. Those actions, he noted, included drafting a recovery plan and aligning capital improvement plan (CIP) projects with the hazard mitigation plan.

“We did have a quarterly meeting of the hazard mitigation planning committee on August 17, and you will see on one of those items, the focus of that particular meeting was to review the CIP projects approved by the Mayor and City Council and making sure we were aligning certain projects with the hazard mitigation plan strategies and goals,” he said.

As part of that CIP review, Neville said two projects were identified as priorities – the Eagle’s Landing Golf Course tidal flood remediation project and the Route 50 bridge/Ocean Gateway intersection elevation project. He noted that the staff has submitted a notice of interest for grant funding.

“I will mention that both of those two projects, we’ve indicated on a notice of interest for FEMA BRIC Grant funding,” he said. “That’s the first step in being able to present those for a grant application. Part of the presentation tonight is we’d ask the council to consider adopting the two project sheets … That would indicate that these two projects have been elevated to a priority status that you’d like to present for grant funding.”

In last week’s update, Neville also highlighted the town’s annual recertification for the community rating system. He noted that renewal provides a 20% discount on flood insurance offered to property owners.

“We’ve discovered last year, as FEMA has changed the flood insurance program, that there are 473 properties in town on a list. It used to be called the minus rated list. It’s now called the national violation tracker,” he added. “Actually, this last year I’ve been able to work with two condo associations to work to get themselves off of that list. We do offer that as a service within the department, to be able to work with the property owner to try to provide updated information to FEMA.”

Neville also highlighted the town’s efforts to promote the hazard mitigation plan and complete mitigation actions. He also announced the launch of an Adopt a Storm Drain program, which seeks citizen volunteers to help clear and maintain storm drains in front of their properties.

After further discussion, the council voted 6-0, with Councilwoman Carol Proctor absent, to prioritize the two mitigation projects and to publish the hazard mitigation plan update on the town’s website.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.