The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

April 30, 2014

Biggert-Waters Act still a threat, 50 told

LEWISBURG — It was a packed house Wednesday night at the Lewisburg Senior Center as more than 50 people gathered to discuss recent changes to the Biggert-Waters Act, which many of the residents in attendance fear could make their Valley properties worthless.

About 600 structures in Lewisburg are in the 100-year floodplain or are touched by the floodplain, Lewisburg Elm Street Manager Samantha Pearson said.

And the news for them isn’t all good, despite recent reforms to Biggert-Waters, according to experts who spoke at the meeting.

“There is no way I can put a happy face on what is going to happen,” said Fran McJunkin, deputy director of the Lycoming County Planning Department.

The meeting was hosted by the Lewisburg Neighborhoods Corp. for area residents confused by the changing flood insurance regulations, which were overhauled in March after homeowners protested exorbitant rate hikes.

The problem with the original form of Biggert-Waters essentially is that it got rid of “a very important portion of the flood insurance program that affects us in river communities,” McJunkin said.

Previously, houses in river communities built before the adoption of historic flood maps were given low rates for insurance to encourage municipalities to enroll in the federal flood insurance program. Biggert-Waters then ruled that these historic homes would be treated as new construction, meaning they needed elevation certificates and new insurance rates, up to as much as $16,000 per year.

“That was the tipping point in January,” she said. “Congress had to do something.”

The Biggert-Waters reforms “basically reset” rates for primary homeowners who bought homes after July 2012, McJunkin said.

“Congress gave us a reset,” she said. “But what Congress did not do was withdraw (increases).”

Insurance rates will continue to rise, but less dramatically, at a rate of 15 percent to 18 percent of a homeowner’s current policy, until the owner gets an elevation certificate, McJunkin said. Homeowners need to contact surveyors to find out more about their homes and elevations.

Some properties will have to be mitigated, but not every property can be, she said. Sal Vitko, also with Lycoming County, agreed. Options may include filling in basements, raising utilities and elevating structures, he said.

“There’s no silver bullet that’s going to fix every property,” Vitko said.

There also is a property buyout process, but it is lengthy and involves some cost-sharing, he said.

Jeffrey Coup, of the Coup Agency in Milton, was a third panelist, and he talked about the insurance side of the legislation.

The reforms to Biggert-Waters “kicked the can down the road,” he said.

“Everything’s going to get ugly again, but it’s going to take more time,” he added.

The reform extensions run out in 2017. Coup encouraged homeowners to consult a professional who specializes in flood insurance to understand their options and what is best for their properties.

Pearson said the meeting was meant to help inform borough officials as well as the public.

“This is federal legislation, which directly impacts private property owners,” she said. “We don’t get a whole lot of feedback, like the kind of direct information and feedback that property owners do.”

Pearson encouraged residents to contact legislators to express their concerns and opinions.

Homeowners at the meeting seemed most concerned with property values and resale values, wondering will happen to the communities if homes cannot be sold.

“The politicians passed a law that made my house worthless,” one Lewisburg homeowner said.

1
Text Only
News
  • CORBETT_TomC.jpg Corbett: VanKirk helped to save the world

    Gov. Tom Corbett today issued the following statement on the death of Northumberland County native Theodore “Dutch” VanKirk, the last surviving crew member of the Enola Gay:

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Afraid of grandson? "Now I am," Amanda Trometter says

    Erick Trometter slept with hunting and butcher knives beside his bed while living with the grandmother he allegedly attacked on the morning he was shot after allegedly pulling a knife on a city police officer.

    July 30, 2014

  • vk1.jpg Ted VanKirk: Seen from above

    The Daily Item is republishing online its spring 2012 interview with Northumberland native Ted “Dutch” VanKirk, the navigator of the Enola Gay, which dropped the first of two atomic bombs on Japan in 1945. The story appeared in Inside Pennsylvania magazine. VanKirk died Monday in Georgia at age 93.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • vankirk_ted1.jpg “The Japanese were beaten before we even dropped the bomb”

    Compared to the 58 other missions they ran together, the one they were assigned to carry out on Aug. 6, 1945 was easy.
    There would be no return fire, flying conditions were ideal, and if all went according to plan, they would be back to the base in Tinian by nightfall.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • Ritz-Craft Ritz-Craft to hire 60 for Mifflinburg plant

    MIFFLINBURG — Sixty jobs are coming to Mifflinburg as a Ritz-Craft production facility that went dark seven years ago amid the housing downturn will come back on line during the next few months, company officials announced Tuesday.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Selinsgrove man dies when tractor flips in Chapman Township

    PORT TREVORTON — A 57-year-old Selinsgrove man died Tuesday evening when the farm tractor he was driving overturned and pinned him beneath it, according to Snyder County Coroner Bruce Hummel.

    July 29, 2014

  • VanKirk 'Real hero' of World War II dies

    ATLANTA, Ga. — Theodore “Dutch” VanKirk, the last surviving crew member of the Enola Gay, which dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, died Monday of natural causes in the retirement home where he lived in Georgia. He was 93.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mayor: Rental ban for drug dealers a success

    SUNBURY — A controversial landlord-tenant ordinance passed by the City Council in 2012 has become one of Sunbury’s “better success stories,” Mayor David Persing said Tuesday.

    July 29, 2014

  • Mom cited for allegedly leaving baby in car for 12 minutes

    LEWISBURG — A summary citation carrying a maximum fine of $127.50 was filed Tuesday against a Lewisburg woman accused of leaving her 10-month-old baby unattended for 12 minutes in a car in Union County on July 21.

    July 29, 2014

  • Line Mountain district, teachers $1.2M apart in contract talks

    MANDATA — Separate proposals from the Line Mountain School District and its teachers union are $1.2 million apart and not getting any closer, according to Benjamin L. Pratt, the district’s labor counsel at the CGA Law Firm.

    July 29, 2014

The Daily Marquee
Video
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.