Flood Smart Communities
Genesee/Finger Lakes Regional Planning Council (G/FLRPC) is working with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) on a project funded through by the Department of Commerce and NOAA through Ohio Sea Grant called Flood Smart Communities. Local government decision-makers and members of the community in the Village of Hilton, the Town of Greece, and the Town of Parma (Monroe County) will participate in an assessment of current flooding vulnerability and development of actions. These communities were selected because they represent a diversity of community types—from high density and commercial development to rural residential with agriculture. They regularly experience flooding and are connected by streams that flow to the wetland complex of the Braddock Bay Fish and Wildlife Management Area. The Village of Hilton, the Town of Greece, and the Town of Parma have a strong history of collaboration and currently work together on stormwater management.
A condensed version of Structured Decision Making (SDM) will be used to produce a proactive plan that enables local government and community members to organize their resources into flood damage prevention rather than costly disaster recovery. Two main groups of decision-makers that are impacted by flooding will be engaged: local government and property owners. The processes of engagement and the resulting recommendations will be structured differently for each group.
The Project Team (TNC, GFLRPC, University of Buffalo and SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry will complete a community study, which will include compiling spatial data, researching sample land use tools, identifying current community strengths, and conducting a survey of property owners to determine the economic and social costs of flooding. A study of how local governments can take advantage of shared services and participation in the Community Rating System (CRS) are other anticipated outcomes.
Once data has been collected and evaluated, it will be compiled into a vulnerability assessment that will be used to inform development of recommendations to reduce flooding vulnerability. The final product will be a Floodplain Action Plan that will include the results of the vulnerability assessment and prioritized recommendations. Both the process and the outcomes of Flood Smart Communities can serve as a model for other communities in the Genesee-Finger Lakes Region as well as New York State.
1. The project kick-off meeting was held at Greece Town Hall on September 22, 2014 with TNC, G/FLRPC, UB, and local officials to review the project process and timeline and begin brainstorming a list of individuals to serve on the Local Government Decision-Makers Committee.
2. TNC and G/FLRPC hosted an Orientation Meeting and Tour with all Project Team members on October 6, 2014. TNC and G/FLRPC delivered presentations to SUNY ESF and UB on local hydrogeomorphology, flooding issues, and current local and regional regulation. Four tour stops were visited to demonstrate a variety of building standards, the types of structures that have been included in FEMA mapped flood zones, and areas of past flooding.
3. The Project Team worked with the municipal representatives to characterize flooding experienced by their communities and identify its impacts and causes through the Situation Analysis. The Project Team then worked the information into a conceptual model or relationships diagram that provides a comprehensive understanding of flooding that can be shared with others in local government as well as with the Property Owner Decision-Makers Committee and as a starting place for identifying stakeholders and information gaps.
4. A meeting was held on December 17, 2014 with the Project Team and municipal representatives to check the relationships diagram for accuracy and adequacy and to identify triggers, the scope, and constraints for decision-making. Constructing the Decision Statement provides a clear understanding of what the project is meant to accomplish. Based on information generated by the discussion, the Project Team drafted a decision statement. This draft was then presented to the municipal representatives at a follow-up meeting on January 14, 2015 for their review and feedback and was finalized and re-termed to Statement of Purpose.
5. The next step was the identification of Objectives and Evaluation Criteria. This phase was broken into two meetings: February 12 and March 2, 2015. It is important to identify objectives for developing and prioritizing the final plan’s recommendations. Objectives need only state two things: the thing that matters and the direction you’d like it to move. The evaluation criteria will be populated by data to create a baseline so that if the communities revisit the final plan at a later time, they can measure their progress towards reducing flooding vulnerability.
6. To provide a diversity of perspectives on the project, its process and goals, a Project Advisory Committee (PAC) was formed of members from State and County government, business and agricultural sectors. On June 29, 2015, the Project Team and the Municipal Representatives met with the PAC to discuss the Project Method and to gain their perspective on the Objectives developed in February-March.
- Scott Copey, Planner, Town of Greece
- Paul Czapranski, Technical Services Coordinator, Town of Greece
- John Gauthier, Engineer and MS4 permit manager, Town of Greece
- Mike Lissow, Code Enforcement Officer, Building Inspector and Fire Marshall, Village of Hilton
- Mike McHenry, Public Works Superintendent, Village of Hilton
- Dennis Scibetta, Building and Development Coordinator, Town of Parma
- Stevie Adams, Freshwater Conservation Practitioner, TNC
- Jayme Thomann, Senior Planner, G/FLRPC
- Kathryn Friedman, Researcher on Policy & Inter-municipal Collaboration, University of Buffalo
- Valerie Luzadis, Environmental Economist, SUNY ESF
- Laura Rickard, Environmental Social Scientist, SUNY ESF
- Mike Petroni, Graduate Student, SUNY ESF
- Katie Lenkiewicz, Graduate Student, SUNY ESF
Project Advisory Committee
- William Nechamen, Floodplain Management Chief and Chair Association of State Floodplain Managers, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
- Karis Manning, Environmental Engineer, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
- Andy Sansone, Senior Industrial Waste Technician, Monroe County Department of Environmental Services
- Jack Barton, Retired Code Enforcement Officer and Building Inspector
- Kelly Emerick, Executive Director, Monroe County Soil and Water Conservation District
- Dan Kubit, President, M&T Bank, President, Hilton-Parma Hamlin Chamber of Commerce