Gonzales city leaders propose new flood base elevation

GONZALES, LA (WAFB) - It could now cost some home and business owners more to build in the City of Gonzales. City leaders are proposing that all new developments in flood zones be built higher. The move comes on the heels of the historic August 2016 flood in which hundreds of homes and businesses were damaged.

Contractors are moving dirt on the much-anticipated Conway development off Burnside Highway and I-10. The $325 million home and business site is expected to be one of the largest in Gonzales with over 3,500 people living in the community. Gonzales Chief Administrative Officer Scot Byrd says it's being built at least one foot over the flood base elevation. That's the height water is expected to reach in a 100-year flood, a flood that has a one percent chance of happening in any given year.

"The benefit to the citizens is that they would be able to have access to the FEMA program in the event there is a catastrophe of some kind, and they would also be eligible for the National Flood Insurance Program," Byrd said.

It's why city leaders say they would like to have all future developments that are in flood zones built one foot above the flood base elevation. Byrd says for a home that costs $150,000, that would mean adding around $1,500 more to the price. Byrd says the move would save homeowners money in the long run.

"The cost of raising that development by one foot is a one-time charge that can be absorbed in the overall financing of the home or business, and the increase in insurance cost if you are in a flood plain is going to be something you pay every year forever," Byrd said.

Byrd says the new elevation requirement would have minimal impact on drainage, which the council believes is something all property owners can bank on.

There will be a public hearing before the council votes in March. New developments that already have permits will be grandfathered in.

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