A property owner whose land may soon be classified as having a high risk of flooding said she wouldn’t have purchased the home less than a year ago had she known this was coming.

Now, as the home Sue Armor owns and rents out on Robert Street sits just inside the proposed 100-year flood zone, she may soon have to factor in the cost of flood insurance, which can easily top $1,000 annually and is mandatory for mortgages on properties in flood-prone areas. The home is about a half-mile east of Canary Ditch.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is working to update maps that detail the risk of flooding for properties near Canary Ditch, which has been added as a new waterway. Many properties that were either not previously at risk, or had not been developed prior to the last mapping more than 30 years ago, are now listed as being in potential 100-year flood zones.

Story continues below gallery

The concern of about 70 property owners gathered at an informational meeting Thursday night in Beeson Hall was that keeping their homes may become more costly, and selling them could be more difficult.

The effect of these new designations on property values and taxes, whether future construction and renovations would be allowed and why they might be in a 100-year flood zone if they got through the flood of 2008 without any issues were among the other issues raised by the audience.

Properties in the proposed flood zones could face restrictions on the types of construction allowed, city planner Joanna Myers said. City staff can’t outline specifically what projects would or wouldn’t require a special permit, but would have to examine each project prior to a homeowner wanting to begin a project, such as an addition or outbuilding, Myers said.

Franklin officials stressed the proposed maps aren’t final. The city has already begun the process to appeal, and property owners will have that opportunity as well, city engineer Travis Underhill said.

The proposed flood zones are the worst case scenario. While it isn’t likely that properties will be removed from the flood plain, the elevation levels that determine whether a property is in a 100-year-flood zone could be adjusted, he said. The city has hired a consultant for the appeal, Underhill said.

A final decision on what properties will be impacted by the flood zones could be as far as a year away, he said.

Canary Ditch 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 homes along Schoolhouse Road, Crescent Street, Churchill Road, Roberts Road, Washington Street, Parkview Court and Fourteenth Street, according to the preliminary flood maps.

Commercial properties, such as industrial land along Commerce Drive and U.S. 31, also are included in proposed maps.

For Armor and many other homeowners near Canary Creek, the uncertainty of what the final decision will mean for them lingers.

Neighbors on Castle Drive who have or are close to paying off their mortgages are concerned about how these new designations would impact their ability to sell their homes in the future.

Lyman Benner and John Stevens both experienced significant flooding in their basements in 2008. Neither had flood insurance then and didn’t purchase it afterward. Their backyards border Canary Ditch and are included in both the current and proposed flood plain, and a portion of their houses are now in the proposed 100-year flood zone.

If they were to sell their homes, interested buyers likely would need a mortgage, and would have to pay for flood insurance, which is an additional cost that could require Benner or Stevens to sell their properties for less or wait longer for someone willing to pay those extra costs.

Jerry Edward owns a rental home on Roberts Road, and the new flood map shows the 100-year flood zone touching the driveway and consuming the backyard, but the structure is in the proposed 500-year flood zone. He wonders if his bank still might require flood insurance, and learned from an insurance agency that he could pay $500 to $1,000 more per year if that happens.

“I can’t pass all of that on to the renter,” Jerry Edward said.

At issue

More than 600 property owners near Canary Ditch in Franklin could have their properties listed as being in areas that are a high risk for flooding as the Federal Emergency Management Agency is updating its maps.

A map of the proposed changes is available online at infip.dnr.in.gov. Homeowners can locate their specific property and see how the proposed flood zones will impact them.

Author photo
Jacob Tellers is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at jtellers@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2702.