New residences in manufactured home parks must now be built to federally established flood elevations in Charlotte County.

The Charlotte County Commission added the restriction to the county’s building code to keep the county eligible for lower flood insurance ratings from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Until the commission vote on May 25, new manufactured homes in parks only needed to be elevated a standard 36 inches.

Federal regulations now require homes to be built according to an evaluation of the how high waters could rise in an area. Called “base flood elevation,” builders must also add 1 foot to that base level. Without that elevation, banks cannot give out mortgages in the flood-prone zones.

Within the National Flood Insurance Program, Charlotte County and others are rated by FEMA according to its codes. Many Charlotte County homes are in a flood zone of some type.

Without removing the code for flood zone buildings at 36 inches only, the county would have gone from Class 6 to Class 9 in FEMA’s rating, Community Development Director Ben Bailey told commissioners.

That would have dramatically increased national flood insurance rates for residents.

FEMA and related agencies have been raising the mean high water mark in some areas with access to better data and with measures of sea level rise. Homes builders who believe the elevation to be higher than reported on FEMA maps — often due to fill being trucked in — can appeal for a new elevation status.

In contrast to that new requirement, the commission also agreed to lift its outright ban on manufactured homes in areas that get hit hardest by hurricanes: coastal zones also labeled high wind hazard by FEMA. The ban can be lifted, Bailey told commissioners, because manufactured homes can now meet Florida wind-resistance standards. Plus, they must be elevated to meet federal regulation flooding expectations.

The homes in high hazard zones were already allowed to be built in parks established before 1971, so the lifting of the ban is helpful only to the small number banned in coastal zones outside of the early coastal parks.

There is a slight difference between manufactured and modular homes. Manufactured homes are built in factories and shipped by truck usually in single or double-wide packages. Modular homes are built in factories but shipped by truck in large pieces.


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