ESSEX — Special Town Meeting voted unanimously to approve a Federal Emergency Management Agency update of Essex's flood plain Monday night, overturning an early May decision that, officials say, could have made some residents ineligible for federal flood insurance.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requires that participating towns update their flood plain maps in order to remain part of the national flood insurance program.
With the approval of the bylaw Monday night, town officials can move forward in submitting the updated maps to FEMA in order to remain part of the national flood insurance program, Town Clerk Christina Wright said Tuesday.
The program ensures residents that live within flood zoning areas that are not covered by private insurance companies, can buy coverage, Essex Town Administrator Brendhan Zubricki had said previously. And, Zubricki said, the town's approval of the updated maps was necessary in order to participate in the program, which has a July 3 application deadline.
Essex Town Meeting on its second night last month had rejected the article calling for the town to join the FEMA program. Some of those who opposed the update during the May 9 Town Meeting said the bylaw's language was too complicated and could prevent development in areas of the flood plain.
One opponent, local attorney John Guerin, had said he opposed the new bylaw because its loose language could prevent construction in areas where construction would have been allowed under the old bylaw.
But even two days after the vote, one resident, Clifford Ageloff, had "urged" the swift passage of the article in a May 11 letter to the Times.
"Adopting the new maps as presented at Town Meeting is simply the necessary housekeeping our town needs to do for the financial security of all our residents," Ageloff wrote.
Some 37 residents attended Monday's Special Town Meeting, officials said, and this time gave the revised article received unanimous approval.
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-238-7000 x3451, or firstname.lastname@example.org.