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December 24, 2008 THE VILLADOM TIMES IV • Page 3
Mahwah Township may change ﬂood insurance rate map
by Frank J. McMahon
The Mahwah Township Council is expected to fund the
cost of revising the Federal Emergency Management Agen-
cy’s ﬂood insurance rate map for the area around North
Railroad Avenue, which is near the New Jersey Transit
train station on East Ramapo Avenue at Old Station Lane.
One of the residents of that street, Barbara Alberts,
recently advised the township council that when she
attempted to reﬁnance her home she was told by her bank
that she had to purchase ﬂood insurance. But she claims
that Steven Koestner, an engineer she hired to review the
map, has told her that the ﬂood insurance rate map is wrong
and needs to be changed.
“We need the map changed so FEMA can take me out of
the ﬂood area,” Alberts told the council.
Koestner wrote to Boswell McClave Engineering, the
township’s engineering ﬁrm and asked that ﬁrm to submit
a letter of map revision to FEMA on behalf of the township
in order to authorize a revision to the ﬂood insurance rate
map. Koestner claims the FEMA map depicts a railroad
crossing over the Masonicus Brook that appears to act as
an obstruction in the channel, causing water to build up to
a ﬂood elevation. That crossing was removed some time
ago, according to Koestner, yet the latest ﬂood study still
includes the impact of that controlling structure.
“The removal (of that structure) should have a signiﬁ-
cant effect on lowering the ﬂood elevation and the antici-
pated ﬂood water damage to (Albert’s property) and the
upstream vicinity,” Koestner wrote.
The FEMA map has not been revised, however, to reﬂect
the existing site conditions and, therefore, it does not cor-
rectly reﬂect the ﬂood elevations of the brook, according
to Michael Kelly, the Boswell representative for the town-
ship. “This adversely affects properties located along the
brook between Railroad Avenue and the location where
the railroad crossing was removed,” Kelly told the council,
“requiring some property owners to be required to pur-
chase ﬂood insurance.”
Kelly told the council certain things would be needed
to correctly delineate the ﬂoodplain limits of the Masoni-
cus Brook and to submit an application for a letter of map
revision to FEMA, including topographic survey informa-
tion and a review of FEMA’s stream cross section data with
the existing current topographic survey information. Data
would then have to be revised and the FEMA ﬂood panel
and ﬂood proﬁle of the Masonicus Brook would have to
be amended to depict the revised ﬂoodplain and ﬂoodway
limits along with ﬂood elevations for this area. Then, cer-
tain forms would have to be completed and submitted to
FEMA along with certain computations, topographical
data, photographs, and an annotated ﬂood map and pro-
ﬁle. The township would then have to ﬁle a request for a
letter of map revision and coordinate the review process
Kelly estimated the fee for his ﬁrm to perform these
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services would be approximately $11,000, not including
application fees, which could be about $800.
Kelly emphasized that the township has not made any
error in this matter, but the map was just not updated by
FEMA even though the bridge was removed 15 to 20 years
ago. He explained, however, that FEMA has a policy that
requires an engineer to prove that the map is wrong and to
show how it should be before it will be updated.
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