NORTH TOPSAIL BEACH — An effort to correct a long-standing mistake that affects nearly all of the property within North Topsail Beach is moving forward in Congress.
A subcommittee hearing will be held next month in Washington, D.C. on legislation introduced to fix a decades-old federal mapping error that has kept a large portion of the town from participating in the National Flood Insurance Program.
The April 8 hearing is the next step to bring H.R. 187 to the House floor for a vote and move the legislation forward.
“This is the most significant step since the introduction of the bill to correct a technical error to a 1982 map, and we are still hopeful we’ll achieve our final goal of correcting the error. It will be beneficial to the town from the governmental perspective and to the citizens,” Town Manager Stuart Turille said.
The Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA) was enacted in 1982 to discourage development of previously undeveloped coastal area. At that time, a large part of North Topsail Beach was mistakenly classified as undeveloped though the town has said the area designated as a CBRA zone was already under development, was zoned for residential development and had infrastructure in the ground.
The town has fought for a number of years to have the CBRA changed and is now seeking a resolution by legislative means in Congress.
Rep. Walter Jones introduced H.R. 187 in January 2013 and a similar bill was introduced by Sen. Kay Hagan in the Senate the following March.
“North Topsail Beach has provided extensive documentation to prove that in 1982 the area was under development and in fact had full infrastructure in place. There is no reason that North Topsail Beach should be prevented from accessing the NFIP, and it is my hope that the subcommittee will support my effort to correct this error,” Jones said in a statement Tuesday announcing the hearing.
Mayor Dan Tuman said he was notified of the hearing and will testify before the House Fisheries, Wildlife, Ocean and Insular Affairs Subcommittee regarding the CBRA designation.
“It has a substantial impact to our community,” he said.
By not being eligible for the NFIP, homeowners in the zone face significantly higher flood insurance premiums.
However, town officials said, the impact goes well beyond insurance rates.
“It’s not just helping homeowners on the beach get a decrease in flood insurance (rates). It’s a lot more complex than that,” Turille said.
Areas in CBRA zones are not eligible for any kind of federal assistance. While that includes participation in the NFIP, it can also keep the town from receiving such assistance as highway funds or grants and financing for shore protection or hazard mitigation projects.
Contact Daily News reporter Jannette Pippin at 910-382-2557 or firstname.lastname@example.org.