Federal Emergency Management Agency OK with Monroe County’s new request-only inspections

Nov 5, 2011

The following article was published in the Key West Keynoter on November 5, 2011:

FEMA OK with county’s new request-only inspections

By Ryan McCarthy

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has given tentative approval to Monroe County’s plan to amend the long-derided downstairs-enclosure inspection program.

In an Oct. 14 letter to county Growth Management Director Christine Hurley, FEMA Mitigation Division Director Brad Loar said the agency would support the county’s “certificate of compliance program.” It would replace the current program that subjects property owners to enclosure inspections when applying for a building permit in a separate area of their home.

Those types of inspections were eliminated when Gov. Rick Scott signed House Bill 407, which bans them, into law in June. Former Lower Keys resident John November drafted the bill, which takes effect this coming June 1.

Enclosure inspections are a local requirement of FEMA’s program to find and remove enclosures below the floodplain or built illegally. They’re key to the county remaining in FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program, which insures almost all Keys properties.

According to the county, 2,619 of 5,686 properties in the inspection program, all with National Flood Insurance Program insurance, have been inspected. Based on what was discovered, they were either found to be in compliance with code or forced to come into compliance. Still, that leaves 3,067 properties to go.

Under the new compliance program, property owners can request an inspection, even if they’ve already had one in the past.

“If you’re good to go, you’ll have a certificate and have [a record] in your chain of title. When you go to sell your house, they’ll now know … you can have what you have,” Hurley said.

Even though there is no requirement to request an inspection, she said county staff began working with FEMA on the new program once HB 407 was approved.

County officials say the county must now amend its code to allow for the new certificate-of-compliance provision. The County Commission is expected to discuss the change at its Nov. 16 meeting at the Murray E. Nelson Government and Cultural Center in Key Largo.

Find this article here:  http://www.keysnet.com/2011/11/05/393659/fema-ok-with-countys-new-request.html