HARPSWELL

On Nov. 7, Harpswell voters will have the opportunity to vote on two local referendums.

The first referendum article concerns Federal Emergency Management Agency flood maps. FEMA released preliminary flood maps earlier this year, and both before and after that release towns in York and Cumberland counties have been preparing to appeal FEMA’s decisions.

The flood maps are important because they are used to set National Flood Insurance Program rates. If FEMA determines that properties in a coastal community are at a high risk of flood damage, insurance rates in affected properties can skyrocket.

In preparation for the new maps, the town allotted $55,000 toward the FEMA appeal process at their March town meeting as part of a regional appeal to the new FEMA maps. Other towns working with Ransom Consulting include Kittery, Kennebunkport, Old Orchard Beach, Wells and Biddeford.

The town is asking voters to approve $50,000 to continue the appeal process. Once the appeal process opens up, which could be as soon as November, the town will have just 90 days to file an appeal, which means the money could be needed before the next town meeting in March.

“This additional money will allow us to do both the phase one and phase two appeals,” said Town Administrator Kristi Eiane.

In the appeal process, Ransom Consulting engineers will try to provide more accurate maps of the areas in question, said engineer Nathan Dill. In creating their flood maps, FEMA’s model necessarily looks at larger chunks of area encompassing multiple towns and then making determinations about risk. Ransom Consulting engineers will look at smaller areas that are overlooked by FEMA to create more accurate maps.

“FEMA is looking at this in a much broader scale,” said Dill. “They’re going county by county.”

In doing so, they can miss a lot of the variation between and on individual properties, which distorts their risk.

“Where you have a very complicated shoreline like you do in Harpswell, it varies quite a bit,” said Dill.

After coming up with their own recommendations, the company will then work with FEMA during the appeals process to create a more correct map.

Harpswell voters will also vote on whether to accept an easement on a piece of privately owned property on Orr’s Island. The easement will give the town access to a culvert designed to drain water off of Leeman Road. Under the 2,690-square-foot easement, the town retains the right to trim or cut down vegetation in the easement area and to excavate or place fill there if deemed necessary.

“We’ve worked hard trying to get this passed for about a year,” said Road Commissioner Ronald Ponziani at a public hearing Thursday.

The town currently has a bid out to remove and replace the culvert on the easement, along with one that extends under Leeman Road. The two culverts will be replaced by a single culvert 132 feet in length and one foot in diameter, which extends into the easement area. According to the request for proposal, the project is expected to be completed by the end of the year, weather permitting.

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What’s up?

THE FIRST referendum article concerns Federal Emergency Management Agency flood maps.

HARPSWELL voters will also vote on whether to accept an easement on a piece of privately owned property on Orr’s Island.



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