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Water-Related News

Longboat Key Commission votes to allow additional freeboard with possible expansion

Town commissioners debated over how much optional freeboard to allow after a change in FEMA flood maps changed for Sarasota County.

At the April 1 regular meeting, Longboat Key town commissioners voted to pass an ordinance allowing for property owners to include up to 3 feet of freeboard — two optional feet on top of the required 1 foot.

An option to allow two more feet of freeboard — 4 feet total — was also on the table, but commissioners needed more research and development for that ordinance.

Base flood elevation (BFE) is the estimated level of surface water expected during a 100-year base flood event. Freeboard is a safety feature of floodplain management and is added on top of the BFE height to equal a property’s design flood elevation.

The Planning, Zoning and Building Department proposed an ordinance that would allow for an additional 2 feet of freeboard.

In January, Planning, Zoning, & Building Director Allen Parsons presented the new flood control maps for Sarasota County as prepared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Those maps generally had a decrease of 2 feet of base flood elevation recommendations across the town.

FEMA regularly updates the maps, and Manatee County received its own set of updates in 2021. Those maps showed a similar decrease, according to Parsons.

What is “freeboard”?

illustration showing freeboard example