Regulatory Response to Sea Level Rise and Storm Surge Inundation City of Annapolis, Maryland

The City of Annapolis, Maryland established projected sea level rise estimates for the area, and developed planning and regulatory responses to sea level rise impacts on the City. This report reviews the sea level rise projections, summarizes potential municipal responses to the increased flooding risks, and provides recommendations on revisions that should be considered to the City’s code.

The recommendations in Part II of this report address revisions to the city floodplain and development codes to respond to the increased flooding expected from sea level rise. These code revisions, if implemented, would require private property owners seeking building permits or change-in-use permits to better protect their properties from flood damages.

The following is a synopsis of some of the recommended City code revisions in Part II:

The current Floodplain Ordinance requires the elevation of the lowest floor of all new or substantially improved structures within the one-hundred-year flood zone to be at or above eight feet above mean sea level.

One of the recommended options for the Floodplain Ordinance is to: 

Adopt Maryland’s recommended 2-foot freeboard standard by requiring elevation of 2 feet above the FEMA base flood elevation for the first floor and electrical/plumbing equipment currently required to be 8 feet above mean sea level.

Some of the recommendations for the Zoning Code are to:

Evaluate the impact of any proposed expansions of the Critical Area on the Annapolis zoning map and regulations.

Consider providing a process for approval of emergency repairs following flooding, fire or other disaster.

Address the possibility of property owners using storm protection measures such as temporary or permanent flood walls.

Recommended in future revisions to the Zoning Ordinance:

To evaluate height limits if problems are encountered due to the need for higher first floor elevations. (especially in the historic overlay district requires a maximum cornice height of 22 to 35 feet.)

Other components of preparing for sea level rise that are recommended for Annapolis to evaluate in its cycle of comprehensive plan, neighborhood plan, and capital program updates are included also.

Part III: Summary of Recommended Actions in Other Jurisdictions provides additional recommended responses for selected jurisdictions, focusing on revisions to regulations.

The guidance and plans discussed for jurisdictions within Maryland include:

- Sea Level Rise: Technical Guidance for Dorchester County, 2008
- Somerset County Rising Sea Level Guidance, March 2008
- Worcester County Sea Level Rise Guidance Document, 2008
- Anne Arundel County Report on Sea Level Rise, General Development Plan 2008
- Town of Queenstown 2010 Community Plan

Jurisdictions outside Maryland reviewed are:

- Portsmouth Virginia Floodplain Management Plan and Repetitive Loss Plan, 2010
- The City of Lewes Hazard Mitigation and Climate Adaptation Action Plan, 2011


In 2011, the City of Annapolis contracted the consulting firms Environmental Resources Management and Whitney Bailey Cox & Magnani, LLC to develop these planning and regulatory responses to the impacts of sea level rise in the City. 



Publication Date: October 2011

Related Organizations:

  • City of Annapolis, Maryland


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Policy analysis/recommendations

States Affected:


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