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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection-Bureau of Flood Engineering
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Vincent Mazzei, Jr., P.E.
Assistant Commissioner
Watershed & Land Management
401 East State Street
Trenton, NJ 08625
PH: (609) 292-2178
FX: (609) 633-0750

NJ Department of Environmental Protection
Division of Dam Safety & Flood Engineering
Bureau of Flood Engineering
Mail Code 501-01A
501 East State Street
PO Box 420
Trenton, NJ 08625-0420

A recent audit of New Jersey’s model ordinances by FEMA for conformance with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) regulations, 44 CFR Parts 59 and 60, resulted in a review of existing local flood damage prevention ordinances.  Based upon FEMA’s review, specific language related to NFIP regulations was not consistent.  Additionally, during Compliance Assistance Contacts with local floodplain administrators, it was determined that better coordination was needed between the three sets of regulations that regulate development and construction in the floodplain.  These regulations are: the NFIP implemented by local floodplain administrators, the New Jersey Flood Hazard Area Control Act (FHACA) implemented at the State level by the NJDEP, and the Uniform Construction Code (UCC) implemented by the local Construction Official.  

Because New Jersey has adopted most flood provisions in the International Code Coordinating Council (ICC) i-Codes and because FEMA has worked with the ICC to develop a Model Code Coordinated Ordinance that can be adapted for local use, FEMA’s Version 3 Model Code Coordinated Ordinance was used as a starting point.  Then, because NFIP regulations encourage and specify that higher State-level standards take precedence in 44 CFR 60.1(d), higher standards such as those for floodway rise and mandatory freeboard have been incorporated in these new model ordinances so that local floodplain management regulations and decisions do not conflict with Statewide minimum requirements.    Also, in an effort to better specify enforcement authority and processes for achieving compliance, N.J.S.A. 40:49 is referenced, and language is proposed for development that does not meet NFIP and ordinance regulations.       

As a result of this process, New Jersey Model Flood Damage Prevention Ordinances have been simplified from more than 6 models (A, B, C, D, D&E, and E) to 2 models: Riverine (formerly A, B, C, and D without LiMWA) and Coastal (formerly D&E, E, and D with LiMWA).  In the past, ordinance models were tailored to mapped characteristics present within a municipality depending upon whether flood zones and base flood elevations were mapped, floodways were present, and coastal construction standards were necessary for V and Coastal A Zones.   This simplification was necessary because both the FHACA and the UCC are expansively written to achieve site-specific compliance for construction and development in all types of floodplains.   Additionally, the Flood Hazard Area Control Act’s requirement that the best available mapping be considered in determining the floodplain and the design flood elevation for structures necessitated that the municipality’s regulation of the floodplain and the local design flood elevation would be no less stringent than that required by State regulation.     

WARNING: This model ordinance should not be adopted by a community without obtaining the appropriate review and concurrence by the NFIP State Coordinator and the FEMA Regional Office. Careful attention should be paid to changes and renumbering that affect cross references. Two versions are available for this ordinance:  A, B, C, and D without LiMWAs Communities should adopt the Riverine model and D with LiMWAs, D&E, and E Communities should adopt the Coastal model.

Identification of Community Specifics. Locations in the Model Ordinance where community-specific information must be inserted are identified with {brackets} and highlighted in yellow. The information must be provided for the ordinance to apply to a specific community.  Referencing the title and date of the effective and preliminary Flood Insurance Studies (FIS) are required to document compliance with Federal and State laws.   The ordinance worksheet below can be used to help make sure all this information is updated by your community.

Floodplain Administrator Responsibilities. The Model Ordinance identifies the Floodplain Administrator as the office or position that is designated by the community’s legislative body to be responsible for administering the floodplain management regulations. The Floodplain Administrator may or may not be the Construction Official. In New Jersey many communities’ floodplain management responsibilities have traditionally been assigned to the building department. In other communities, the responsibilities are assigned to the planning, engineering, public works, or stormwater department. In addition, in many communities, while one official is designated as the Floodplain Administrator, floodplain management requirements may be adopted in various regulatory instruments (e.g., subdivision regulations, zoning ordinance). The Model Ordinance allows departments other than the building department to retain the floodplain management responsibilities that the building codes do not assign to the Construction Official. When the Construction Official is designated the Floodplain Administrator, the authorities to perform both functions have different origins. This ordinance should not be modified to replace “Floodplain Administrator” with the title of the position designated to serve in that capacity.  Be sure when assigning an appeal board that the Floodplain Administrator does not sit on it.

Construction Official Responsibilities. The Model Ordinance alerts the reader when Construction Official’s authority is established in the building codes.

Administrative Provisions. The administrative sections of the Model Ordinance are organized to be consistent with the administrative provisions of the building codes. It is important to note that some administrative provisions, even if they appear in the building codes, must be retained in the Model Ordinance to appropriately regulate development regulated under the National Flood Insurance Program or the New Jersey Flood Hazard Area Control Act that is not within the scopes of the building codes.

Inspection and Enforcement. The Model Ordinance now requires the Floodplain Administrator to make certain inspections and enforce the ordinance, and alerts the reader that building codes authorize the Construction Official to inspect work for which building permits have been issued and to enforce the building codes.

Higher Standards. Statewide minimum standards in the FHACA are included.  Highlighted blue text is optional suggested language for higher standards commonly incorporated into ordinances in communities receiving credit for higher regulatory standards.  Section 102.2.3 allows municipalities to reference ordinances allowing other Best Available Data to be used in their communities to regulate floodplains to higher standards than the State minimum.  

WARNING: This model ordinance should not be adopted by a community without obtaining the appropriate review and concurrence by the NFIP State Coordinator and the FEMA Regional Office. 

Coastal Model Code Coordinated Ordinance
D with LiMWAs, D&E, and E Communities should adopt the Coastal Model

Riverine Model Code Coordinated Ordinance
A, B, C, and D without LiMWAs Communities should adopt the Riverine model

Reference Tables

Below is a link to the reference tables that supplement the ordinances.  They are a break down of each section of the ordinances and indicate which regulations the language has been taken from.  It is broken down into 3 tables for section 100, definitions (section 200), and then sections 300 through the end.

Ordinance Worksheet

Below is a link to the Ordinance Worksheet which can be used to ensure all community specific information has been updated, all cross sections and numbering is correct, and all optional higher standards have been included or removed.


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Last Updated: March 29, 2022