Many residents and businesses have been hard at work over the past week cleaning and making emergency repairs in order to get back into your homes and businesses. The Montpelier Planning & Community Development Department is no different as we have been seriously flooded and are getting ourselves back up and running in the Montpelier Senior Center building on Barre Street. Now that we are back, we will be getting out information to you over the coming days and weeks about the requirements and process on how to help Montpelier rebuild better. In short – most permanent fixes will require permits and we want to talk about those requirements here.
First, cleaning and debris removal will not require permits during this event. Emergency fixes will also not require permits but once that initial emergency stabilization and repair work are complete — permanent fixes to damaged areas will require River Hard Area Permits and/or Building Permits. For example, you may fix your damaged electric panel on a temporary basis in order to get the power back on in a building, but you will later be required to elevate that panel to meet the requirements for permanent changes.
The most common items we are seeing are temporary and permanent repairs to basement utilities. Regarding River Hazard Permits the changes must be in compliance with the existing regulatory requirements, including but not limited to elevating any replacement utilities above Montpelier’s Design Flood Elevation in compliance with the City’s River Hazard Area Regulations. This generally means moving these utilities to at least the first floor. We require elevating utilities to ensure structures are safer and more resilient to floods in the future. It is also a requirement of the National Flood Insurance Program and Community Rating System which Montpelier is a part of.
How do you know what needs to be elevated and how high?
We will need to work with you and your contractor on a case-by-case basis to answer those questions. Some items may not need a permit at all and others may need special certifications to determine compliance. This is the same for determining elevations. You may or may not need a survey depending on where you are. You should reach out to us so we can get you the most accurate information we can. See next steps below for what to do.
What Do the River Hazard Area Regulations Require?
Short answer – Any repairs beyond emergency fixes for safety need to bring at least the damaged aspects of the structure into compliance with the Montpelier’s River Hazard Area Regulations as amended through April 13, 2022 (the “RHA”).
As confirmed with the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation and our Regional Floodplain Manager, even when only a portion of a building is damaged — the permanent repairs must comply with the current requirements – which in Montpelier include elevating replacement electrical panels, HVAC, and fuel systems above the Design Flood Elevation (“DFE”) for that specific location or be certified as dry floodproofed. See RHA §§ 638.A and 801.B.
Every property will need to be inspected to determine the degree of damage, and what is required for compliance with the various codes and regulations. So reach out to the Planning Department as detailed below as soon as possible to get the process moving.
What Are Your Next Steps
FIRST – If you haven’t yet met with State and City code inspectors, please reach out to Montpelier’s Building Inspector, Michelle Savary, at email@example.com as soon as possible to make an appointment to inspect the damage with her and obtain guidance on necessary immediate repairs and any necessary permanent renovations.
SECOND – Any permanent repairs, including replacement of utilities require applicable permits. This will likely include at least City building and river hazard area permits, and possibly City zoning or State permits. As soon as possible – email the City’s Planning and Zoning Administrator, Meredith Crandall, at firstname.lastname@example.org, and Audra Brown, the Planning and Zoning Assistant and Certified Flood Plain Manager, at email@example.com, with the details of the damage, including:
• The address in question;
• Details of the flood damage incurred;
• What emergency repairs have been made already;
• Plans for permanent repairs or renovations; and
• Any photo documentation you may have.
Staff will respond with guidance on further action, including necessary permits and how to apply for them. PLEASE DO NOT CALL OUR OFFICE. OUR PHONE SERVICE HAS NOT BEEN RESTORED AND WE HAVE NO WAY OF RETURNING CALLS AT THIS TIME.
Additional Guidance and Resources
• Montpelier Flood Disaster Recovery Assistance Page, including the latest press releases and FEMA guidance: https://www.montpelier-vt.org/1407/Flood-Disaster-Recovery-Assistance
• Vermont Small Business Development Center – Flood 2023: Resources for Small Businesses: https://www.vtsbdc.org/disaster-recovery/
• State of Vermont Flood Ready Quick Links For Help or to Help Others: https://floodready.vermont.gov/help-after-flooding
• Montpelier Alive 2023 Flood Resource Page: https://www.montpelieralive.com/flood2023
Watch for additional press releases from the Planning Department in the near future regarding non-flood damage related projects, and our new physical location – which will also be posted on the Planning Department’s webpage at https://www.montpelier-vt.org/228/Planning-Community-Development.