After months of wrangling with proposed new flood maps, the Sandy Springs City Council on Tuesday, April 17, voted to change them to show a lower flood risk for some residents.

The council followed the recommendation of the city’s staff and voted 6-0 to label 2,567 parcels and 244 structures as Zone X on flood maps, meaning they have a moderate risk of flooding. If the city did not act, these buildings would’ve stayed in Zone A, a high-risk flood zone that would mean lowered property values and higher insurance costs for homeowners.

“It’s the result I’ve been going for the whole time,” Councilman Chip Collins said. Collins has said the city should shield property owners from any additional costs, if it was within the council’s power. “I just can’t vote to stay in Zone A when it would end up costing Sandy Springs residents more money.”

Council members approved the map change with little discussion after hearing a few public comments from property owners in favor of the decision. When the issue came before the council in August, council members debated their moral obligation to leave the properties as Zone A so residents would know their flood risk.

The council’s decision will be included on the final flood insurance rate maps, known as FIRMS, produced by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Councilman John Paulson said his home is one of the 244 structures affected, and urged the city to make sure property owners in Zone X know their flood risk. The cities of Roswell and Alpharetta also moved some properties to Zone X, according to research compiled by city staff.

“This was always the way the council was leaning,” Paulson said. “It’s the right decision.”

Councilman Tibby DeJulio said the council has spoken with hundreds of residents about the issue.

“Residents … are intelligent enough to make the decision for themselves whether or not they need flood insurance,” DeJulio said.

In other business, the City Council approved new sign regulations.

Under the new sign rules, all monument style signs will be required to have a base made of either brick or stone. The base of the signs will also be required to be equal to or greater than the top of the sign. The new regulations would require businesses to display their addresses at the top of monument signs.

Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt wrote for Reporter Newspapers from 2011 - 2014. He is the founder and editor of Decaturish.com