Development Permits & Elevation Certificates
Development, Permits and the Elevation Certificate
A floodplain development permit is required for ALL development within the floodplain. For projects that otherwise require a permit, such as a new home or adding a substantial amount of fill to a site, the floodplain development permit is a part of the permit review. Activities in the SFHA (Special Flood Hazard Area) that may not otherwise require a permit, such as limited grading, fill, or the construction of a small detached shed, do require a floodplain development permit. Some floodplain development permits may issued at the Permit & Information Center, which is located at 99 West 10th Avenue.
Note: Any development to a wetland, even outside of the SFHA, may require state and federal approval.
Land Use Code
On March 7, 2023, the City of Eugene City Council unanimously adopted floodplain development code amendments to comply with FEMAs National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) minimum standards.
As used in the Eugene Land Use Code for floodplains, development is defined as any man-made change to improved or unimproved real estate, including but not limited to buildings or other structures, mining, dredging, filling, grading, paving, excavation or drilling operations or storage of equipment or material.
Elevation Certificates are required for all new construction and substantial improvements. Substantial improvements are defined as any reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition or other improvement to a structure, the total cost of which equals or exceeds fifty percent of the market value of the structure before the start of construction of the improvement.
Non-residential structures which are not used as dwellings or for overnight stays may be flood-proofed instead of elevated. Flood-proofed structures are designed to be substantially impermeable to the passage of floodwaters and to withstand the forces that floodwaters can exert onto the structure.
Dry floodproofed structures are certified using a Dry Floodproofing Certificate. Please note that, for insurance purposes, flood-proofed structures are rated as if they are protected to a height one foot lower than they are actually protected.
To minimize potential damage caused by flooding, construction within the floodplain is regulated by local, state, and federal regulations. Elevation of structures is a key component of these requirements. Required elevations are identified during the permit review process, and are noted on the approved set of plans. Two Elevation Certificate forms will be attached to the plans during plan review and must be completed by a licensed land surveyor, engineer, or architect who is authorized by law to certify elevation information.
Builders should work closely with their surveyor to identify and mark on-site the minimum required elevations of the building floor, ducting, heat pumps, electrical, and other building equipment. This should be done prior to foundation work. The surveyor should return during early construction to verify the height of the crawlspace, vents, duct work, and the finished floor.
When the structure is completed, the surveyor must confirm the height of mechanical equipment (such as heat pumps and water heaters) and the height of the adjacent grade. Inspectors will ask for a preliminary Elevation Certificate when the lowest floor is in place.
For typical construction, the verification will occur at the Underfloor Framing inspection when the height of the floor can be identified. Of course, that is too late if you find the foundation was constructed too low. Check early and request that your surveyor provide an elevation reference point before forms are set.
At the completion of a project, the inspector will pick up the completed Elevation Certificate and verify some of the basic information such as the diagram used, and the number, size, and type of flood vents. If the paperwork is not in order, the building will not receive final inspection approval. Some easily missed items are:
- All mechanical equipment (this includes ducting) must be elevated to one foot above the base flood elevation, even if it is in an attached garage or outside the structure.
- The bottom of required vents cannot be more than one foot above adjacent grade.
- Crawlspaces below grade on all sides are prohibited (fill can be added to raise the crawlspace height to comply but must meet other required clearances).
Flood Hazard Information Assistance
The City of Eugene provides free information regarding flood hazards for specific sites within the community and can answer many of your flood-related questions. Staff can assist with flood protection and mitigation design questions and with local flooding concerns. And we can make site visits.