Council Mulls Floodplain Buyout Request

Map of the proposed buyout area (City of Whiteville)
Map of the proposed buyout area (City of Whiteville)

More than 100 flood-prone properties in Whiteville could become public land if council approves a proposal to expand a buyout program.

City council tonight is set to consider an agreement to take over properties purchased through the N.C. Office of Resiliency and Recovery (NCORR) via a strategic buyout plan. The ambitious move would be funded through state hurricane recovery funding.

The proposed project area has been expanded to cover from Virgil to Main and paralleling Mollies Branch. Included in the proposal are homes, structures and businesses on a number of streets, including Burkhead, Pinewood, Maultsby, Stanley, Walter, Powell, McGill and MLK. Most of the properties in the area have been damaged by both Matthew and Florence, with heavy summer storms sometimes adding to the misery.

Several homes in the area are already abandoned, and others are facing code enforcement by the city due to being run down or creating a health and safety hazard to the community.

The expansion of the buyout area was suggested and is being facilitated by the Coastal Dynamics Design Lab from N.C. State. CDDL teams have bene working in Whiteville for several months creating a floodplain map and examining solutions for both the city and landowners.

NCORR received more than $182 million to cover flood relief not fulfilled by Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) funding and private insurance. In many cases, property owners have rejected FEMA buyout offers as being insufficient to replace flood-prone homes.

The NCORR funding, however, typically covers any additional costs for actual replacement costs for owner-occupied properties.

Under the agreement, the city will take ownership of the properties after they have been cleared using NCORR money. The land could then be used as open space for hard-surface mitigation, drainage improvements, parks and other public uses. The city would not be responsible for purchasing the properties from landowners.

Council will discuss the resolution at tonight’s 6:30 meeting.

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About Jefferson Weaver 1326 Articles
Jefferson Weaver is the managing editor of columbuscountynews.com and news director for WTXY radio. He can be reached at 910.632.4965, or by email at jeffersonweaver@columbuscountynews.com.