Carper, Coons Introduce Legislation to Fix Coastal Barrier Resources Map affecting North Bethany Beach homeowners

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Tom Carper, top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, and Chris Coons (both D-Del.) introduced legislation to adjust the boundary of the Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA) map unit for North Bethany Beach, Delaware. This legislation would implement a recommendation made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) following its discovery during the recent digital mapping pilot project that a portion of the North Bethany Beach unit, which encompasses the South Shore Marina development, was included by mistake when the map was created in 1990. This change to the map may only be made through Congressional action.

In November 2016, FWS sent a report to Congress that included the results of the mapping pilot project, which was required by the 2006 Coastal Barrier Resources Reauthorization Act. Delaware was part of the pilot project, and the report contains the recommendation for this map change.

Enacted in 1982, the CBRA is a map-based law that recognizes certain actions and programs of the federal government subsidize and encourage development on coastal barriers. However, coastal building, if done improperly, contributes to the loss of natural resources and threatens human life, health and property. The CBRA system currently contains 859 geographic units in 23 U.S. states and territories along the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, Great Lakes, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico coasts.  The CBRA units are depicted on a set of maps that is maintained by the Secretary of the Interior through FWS.

While CBRA does not prohibit or regulate development, it removes the federal incentives to build on these undeveloped, unstable and environmentally sensitive areas.

“The Coastal Barrier Resources Act seeks to save taxpayers’ money, keep people out of harm’s way, and conserve natural resources by restricting most new federal expenditures and financial assistance. That may includes activities such as beach nourishment, disaster assistance and flood insurance in areas designated within the CBRA system,” said Senator Carper. “That is why it is important to make sure these maps are accurate and that they do not include previously developed property. This bill will fix a mistake that has prevented South Shore Marina homeowners from access to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), saving them tens of thousands of dollars.”

“This common-sense fix will help protect both Delaware homeowners and our natural resources,” said Sen. Coons.  “It is important for Congress to make these updates as our mapping technology improves.  I look forward to this law being passed, allowing Delaware homeowners to access the federal flood insurance program.”

As it reviewed digital mapping results, FWS consulted South Bethany Beach area property owners, as well as the state government, which concurs with the map change.