HAMPTON — At the upcoming town election, voters will decide if new or substantially improved structures built in the tidal wetlands buffer must be placed on pilings.
If approved, the requirement will affect about 340 properties already located in FEMA flood zones.
Officials said that in recent years, the flooding in Hampton has become more frequent and more severe. There is at least minor street flooding with every 10-foot high tide, and the National Weather Service predicts close to 60 tides greater than 10 feet in 2019.
“We have heard from property owners about cracking and shifting foundations in some high tide/storm events. The best way we have to protect structures from tidal forces is to lessen or remove the pressures on their foundations,” Jay Diener, chairman of the Hampton Conservation Commission, said.
Diener said elevating a structure so water can flow under it protects the buildings, allows for more absorption and helps to reduce erosion.
The properties affected by the proposal represent less than 8 percent of the structures in Hampton’s FEMA flood zones. Based on the 2016 Hampton Hazard Mitigation Plan, there are a total of 4,015 buildings in FEMA flood zones.
Diener points out that property owners who have their homes on pilings above FEMA’s base flood elevation have reduced their flood insurance premiums by as much as 50 percent or more.
“That significant savings can help to offset the additional cost of elevating a home,” Diener said.
According to a June report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, projections indicate that 1,498 of Hampton’s homes are at risk of being chronically inundated by seawater by 2045. That represents 15.5 percent of the Hampton community.
Voters in Hampton will be asked to vote on Article 3, which asks them if they want to amend the wetland conservation district ordinance to add construction standards for the tidal wetland conservation district during town elections on March 12.
Voting will take place from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the cafeteria at Winnacunnet High School.