Development in the Floodplain

Permit Requirements
All development in the City of Bellaire must obtain all necessary permits. Contact the City of Bellaire’s Development Services Department at 713-662-8230 for advice before you build, fill, or otherwise develop. The Zoning Ordinance, Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance, and the International Building Codes have special provisions regulating construction and other developments within floodplains. Without these provisions, flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) would not be available to property owners in the City of Bellaire. Any development in the floodplain without a permit is illegal - such activity should be reported to the Development Services Department.

Substantial Improvement Requirements
What is substantial improvement? The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) requires that any reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition, or other improvement of a structure, the cost of which equals or exceeds 50% of the market value of the structure before the start of construction of the improvement, must conform or meet the same construction requirements as a new building and be constructed above the minimum Base Flood Elevation (BFE) listed on the City of Bellaire’s Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM).

What is substantial damage? Substantial damage means damage of any origin sustained by a building or structure when the cost of restoring the building to its pre-damaged condition would equal or exceed 50% of the market value of the building before the damage occurred. Substantial damage is determined regardless of the actual repair work performed.

Drainage System Maintenance
In the City of Bellaire it is illegal to dump, or deposit, any type of debris into a canal, drainage ditch, stream or river. This debris can become entangled in culverts and shallow streambeds, canals or drainage ditches and impede drainage causing the flow of water to back up. Additionally, citizens of Bellaire should keep drainage ditches on their property free of debris, foliage and vegetation that would impede the flow of water. Debris dumping should be reported to the City of Bellaire’s Public Works Department at 713-662-8150.

Property Protection
Rather than waiting for a flood to occur, you can act now to protect your property from flood damage. Various alternatives are available to help minimize flooding. If the floor level of your property or structure is lower than the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) according to the city’s Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM), consider ways to prevent flooding from occurring such as retrofitting your building. Retrofitting means altering your building to eliminate or reduce flood damage.

Retrofitting measures include:
  • Elevating the building so that flood waters do not enter or reach any damageable portions of it
  • Constructing barriers out of fill or concrete between the building and flood waters
  • “Dry Floodproofing” to make the building walls and floor watertight so water does not enter
  • “Wet Floodproofing” to modify the structure and relocate the contents so that when flood waters enter the building there is little or no damage
  • Preventing basement flooding from sewer backup or sump pump failure
There are several good references on retrofitting in the Bellaire Public Library and on the FEMA website. These references will inform you about retrofitting techniques and help you decide which is best for you.

Flood Protection Assistance
Concerned citizens and the general public can obtain information on flood protection assistance from the City of Bellaire’s Development Services Department by calling 713-662-8235. The City of Bellaire has site-specific flood related data, along with data on historical flooding in the neighborhoods, and similar information, so inquirers can relate the flood threat to their specific areas.

List of Provided Services
  • Provide materials on how to select a qualified contractor and what recourse citizens have if they are dissatisfied with the contractor’s performance.
  • Make site visits to review flooding, drainage and sewer problems and provide one-on-one advice to property owners.
  • Provide advice and assistance on retrofitting techniques, such as, elevating buildings above flood levels or the Base Flood Elevation (BFE), dry floodproofing, wet floodproofing and protecting basements from sewer backup. Also, information on the installation of barriers, berms, levees and floodwalls around individual buildings or structures is available.