HUDSON COUNTY -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is in the process of revising flood maps and construction recommendations for the Jersey City-Hoboken region. Some city planners are concerned.
The maps and guidelines have yet to be finalized and adopted by the agency, but if they are approved in their current draft, city planners and local officials say they will radically change the urban landscape.
Older flood maps for Jersey City and Hoboken allowed for ground floor commercial and residential space. It appears the new maps will advise against such architectural designs and will recommend that buildings be elevated seven or eight feet to avoid flooding from future hurricanes.
“If you’re selling a sweater or a pair of shoes, you have to be at [ground] level. The customer has to be able to see the store, look at the merchandise through a glass window, and walk in. Psychologically, customers won’t take the trip up a flight of stairs," said Jersey City Planner Robert Cotter.
The new recommendations – which FEMA spokesman Darrel Habisch emphasized are not requirements – wouldn’t affect any development that has already been completed, any development that has already broken ground, or any project that has already received its building permits. But the recommendations will likely impact projects that are currently in their planning stages. And projects that don't comply may not be able to get flood insurance.
Read much more about this story in this weekend's Jersey City Reporter and Hoboken Reporter, available on your doorstep this weekend or on the bottom half of hudsonreporter.com starting Sunday.