Code Enforcement Answers

What are the rules for developing near the floodplain?
The City of Ottawa has an ordinance called FLOOD DAMAGE PREVENTION ORDINANCE. The document is located here:
I have a boat dock and want to replace it, do I need a permit?
Yes, any development in the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) requires a permit. Depending on the size and location, you may also need a permit from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and the US Army Corps of Engineers.
My home was damaged during the last flood. What is the process for getting the repairs done?
First the City’s Floodplain Management must inspect the damage. Once the damages are assessed, a permit will be required to make the repairs. A final inspection must be made in order to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy.
I want to put an addition on my hoouse. It is inside the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). Are there any restrictions?
Yes. First, the addition cannot be larger than 20% of the current footprint. Also, you cannot do anything that increases the market value of the home more than 50% of the pre-flood value of the home.
Why can't I improve the value of my home if it is in the SFHA?
The City of Ottawa belongs to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). They provide flood insurance, federal disaster assistance & grants and loans. In return, the city must adopt and enforce a floodplain ordinance. The ordinance must prevent increased damages from flooding, protect new buildings and keep flooding from getting worse. If the city does not do the bare minimum required by the NFIP they can be suspended or expelled from the NFIP. If that happens, the city is not eligible for any federal disaster aid or funding.
What happens if I increase the value of my property more than 50% of its pre-flood value?
If your home is damaged more than 50% of its market value or improved more than 50%, then it must become code compliant. For the residential home owner that means one of three things:

  • Elevate the home
  • Re-locate the home outside of the SFHA
  • Demolish the home

If the home is substantially damaged and the homeowner has a flood insurance policy there is a provision to assist with elevation of the home called Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC). In most cases it provides the homeowner with up to $30,000 to elevate a building.
Who determines if the damage is 50%?
The Building Official & the City Engineer work with a FEMA software program called Substantial Damage Estimator. Records for damage to flood prone properties are kept cumulatively for the life of the property at City Hall. These records are public and subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
What type of work requires a permit in the floodplain?
Any type of development requires a permit. Development means placing fill, roads, bridges, concrete, buildings, fences and any type of excavating.