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Frequently Asked Questions
Question 1: What is and is not considered an Actively Disturbed Area under the Flood Hazard Area Control Act?
An Actively Disturbed Area is any expanse of land within a riparian zone in which the vegetation has been permanently or periodically cleared, cut, removed, or otherwise altered by humans to accommodate an ongoing, lawfully existing land use.
Examples of an actively disturbed area include:
1. Any area occupied by lawfully existing impervious surface
2. Any actively farmed area
3. Any portion of an easement, right-of-way, field, lawn, park, or garden that is cultivated
The image below shows an example of a site that IS considered actively disturbed. Note the impervious surface, maintained lawn, and the signs of human disturbance.
Areas that are not considered actively disturbed include forested areas and areas of non-ornamental woody vegetation. In the image below, the mowed grass area below the red line in an example of an actively disturbed area, but the portion of the site above the red line is an example of an area that IS NOT considered actively disturbed. Note the non-ornamental vegetation.
Question 2: What is considered a redevelopment of an impervious surface under the land use rules?
In general, for a project to be considered a redevelopment of an impervious surface, a permit application should be submitted to the Department within five years after the removal of an impervious surface. The site in the example below would therefore be considered a redevelopment of an impervious surface.
This example depicts a development at the corner of Rhode Island Avenue and Pacific Avenue that was demolished less than five years ago. If the impervious surface existed at the site within the five years prior to the date an application to the Department is made, it is considered existing impervious surface.
However, the Department recognizes that there can be a slight lag in time while existing paved areas and buildings are demolished for public safety reasons and/or sites are remediated. As such, the site in the example below could still be considered a redevelopment of an impervious surface.
This example depicts the former post office at the corner of Martin Luther King Boulevard (formerly Illinois Avenue) and Pacific Avenue that was demolished more than five years ago. In this case, the demolition of the former improvements was undertaken for the purpose of remediation at the site. Although the former impervious surfaces were demolished more than five years before the date that an application was made to the Department, the remediation work made it impractical to redevelop the parcel within five years of demolition of the former improvements.
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Last Updated: January 10, 2019