Senate Approves Carper, Coons Bill to Fix Coastal Barrier Resources Map affecting North Bethany Beach Homeowners

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate has approved legislation introduced by Senators Tom Carper, top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, and Chris Coons (both D-Del.), to adjust the boundary of the Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA) map unit for North Bethany Beach, Delaware. The legislation will 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. The legislation will now be sent to the House of Representatives.

“The Coastal Barrier Resources Act saves taxpayers money, keeps people out of harm’s way and conserves natural resources by restricting most federal expenditures and financial assistance for new construction on barrier islands. But a mistake made years ago has prevented South Shore Marina homeowners from accessing tens of thousands of dollars through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP),” said Senator Carper. “This bill fixes that mistake and allows Delaware homeowners access to the National Flood Insurance Program, saving them tens of thousands of dollars. I’m pleased that the Senate has approved this legislation, and I look forward to working with Senator Coons to get it across the finish line and right this wrong.”

“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 am glad the Senate passed our bill, and we will now work to make sure it gets signed into law so that more Delaware homeowners can access the federal flood insurance program.”

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 that certain actions and programs of the federal government subsidize and encourage development on coastal barriers. However, coastal building, if done in the wrong places, 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. As it reviewed digital mapping results, FWS consulted South Bethany Beach area property owners, as well as the state government, who all concur with the map change.