Hundreds of homes, businesses and future developments are at risk of being included in updated flood plain maps from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
If the proposed maps are finalized, residents could have to pay a new monthly fee to cover their homes with flood insurance, and new developments, such as a new Kroger Marketplace off U.S. 31 or new facilities in some of the city’s business parks, may need to spend more money to make sure their building is not at risk of flooding.
Earlier in the year, the national agency that decides what land could flood during a heavy storm like in 2008 unveiled new maps for Johnson County. Minor changes to the existing maps were made in unincorporated parts of Johnson County and Greenwood, but Franklin saw the biggest changes.
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In the proposed maps, about 70 percent of Franklin’s industrial areas were included in the immediate danger zone if a 100-year flood were to happen, city engineer Travis Underhill said.
“It was easier to count who wasn’t included,” he said.
But there was a reason why Franklin’s maps had such major changes: Canary Ditch was never included in previous flood plain maps, Underhill said.
That waterway stretches from just south of Earlywood Drive, goes under U.S. 31 north of Northwood Plaza and connects to Youngs Creek near State Road 144. The new areas in the flood plain include Earlywood Drive, Commerce Drive and residences within a mile south of Commerce Drive. Much of the area west of U.S. 31 already was included in the flood plain, but the new maps now include areas along Canary Ditch, east of U.S. 31.
Before FEMA can approve the new maps, the city can first appeal them, Underhill said. The city hired Whitaker Engineering to study the areas included on the flood maps to see what the potential for flooding really is, he said.
“We noticed the concerns right away and started looking into them from our end since there’s an appeal process you can go through,” Underhill said. “The level of impact, if we accepted the proposal, was substantial enough that we would have to do some research.”
The majority of Franklin’s industrially zoned area near Commerce Drive, Graham Road and parts of Earlywood Drive — essentially the strip of land east of U.S. 31, between Earlywood and Commerce drives — is included in the updated maps. Since this area is where Franklin has the largest space for companies to build warehouses or manufacturing centers, any company that would build a new facility or expand a current one in the area now faces the risk of being included in a 100-year flood plain.
Future development, such as the new Kroger Marketplace off Mallory Parkway, also would be included in the newly drawn flood plain. That would mean the new store may have to be built at a higher elevation so it doesn’t flood, which would add to the construction cost, Underhill said. Kroger officials already have been given a copy of the new maps so they are aware of the possibility, Underhill said.
“We provide them the information so that they can prepare for the worst-case scenario,” he said.
And paying the additional insurance costs for businesses in flood plains could be expensive.
Flood insurances rates for businesses are expected to go up 10 to 15 percent during the next 10 years, said John Auld, president of Franklin Insurance Agency.
Whole neighborhoods would now be included in the flood plain, including homes along Schoolhouse Road, Crescent Street, Churchill Road, Roberts Road, Washington Street, Parkview Court and Fourteenth Street, according to the preliminary flood maps. If FEMA does not approve Franklin’s appeal, that means dozens of residents could need to buy flood insurance, which is not included in homeowner insurance.
Flood insurance policies could cost homeowners or renters about $1,500 per year, Auld said. For example, a home in White River Township with $250,000 worth of coverage and a $5,000 deductible costs the homeowner $2,000 per year, he said.
Notifications would be sent to affected homeowners once the new maps are finalized, Underhill said. Even if your home is included in the newly designated flood plain, your home could be exempt from the requirement to buy flood insurance, he said. Residents can check with their bank or insurance company to see if the home is built higher than the flooded areas, which would not require them to buy flood insurance, Underhill said.
Johnson County and Greenwood city officials do not plan to appeal the new maps since they had minimal changes from the current flood plain maps, officials said.
Johnson County planning engineer Allen Kirk said that, in the 16 years he has worked for the department, county officials have never appealed the flood plain maps from FEMA.
The last time FEMA updated the maps, in 2007, Greenwood appealed the flood maps so that 100 of about 200 homes would not be included in the flood plain. Greenwood had to prove that new creeks have been added in newer developments for water to drain. Greenwood engineers also found that the flood plain maps had been created by using outdated maps of the area.
Earlier this year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency released new floodplain maps for Johnson County, which have the biggest impact on Franklin. To see if your home or property is affected, check out the maps online:
Under “Jurisdiction,” set state as Indiana, county as Johnson County and community as “Franklin, city of” or any other local community you want to view.
Hit search, then download the maps included in the Preliminary Products folder. These are the newly proposed floodplain maps.