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Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas — Charlotte-Mecklenburg County, North Carolina: Floodplain Buyout Program

July 15, 2020

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services (CMSS) — a county-wide regional utility in North Carolina — has been administering a Floodplain Buyout Program to relocate vulnerable residents out of floodplains and reduce long-term flood damage. The buyout program is focused on risk reduction and flood mitigation best practices, where once bought out, properties are returned to open space uses to restore their natural beneficial flood retention and water quality improvement functions and provide other community amenities, like parks and trails. CMSS has purchased more than 400 flood-prone homes and businesses and enabled over 700 families and businesses to relocate to less vulnerable locations outside of the floodplain. CMSS has also supported a number of leaseback arrangements on a case-by-case basis with property owners to increase participation in the buyout program and reduce the county’s property maintenance costs. The program has been funded through a combination of federal and local government sources, with leasebacks also supporting the recapture of some costs. Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s Floodplain Buyout Program is an example of a nationally recognized approach to supporting voluntary retreat in a riverine floodplain. Other local governments could consider adopting a comprehensive buyout program like Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s or individual program elements, like local funding options or leasebacks, to help support voluntary retreat decisions in coastal areas experiencing sea-level rise, impacts from disaster events, and land loss. This case study is one of 17 case studies featured in a report written by the Georgetown Climate Center, Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas: Lessons and Tools from 17 Case Studies.

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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From Newtok to Mertarvik: A Native Alaskan Tribal Village Relocation

Several tribal villages in Alaska are facing impending community-wide climate impacts of permafrost degradation, sea level rise, erosion, and flooding  which require immediate adaptation measures, including the potential of managed retreat. However, only one, the Village of Newtok, is in the process of actively relocating to a new site, Mertarvik, which was conveyed to Newtok through a federal land grant. The Newtok team  composed of federal, state, and local tribal representatives  is prioritizing the development of housing, roads, energy, and an evacuation center in the near-term. The project goal is to relocate everyone in Newtok to Mertarvik by 2023. The Newtok relocation has been funded by a patchwork of federal and state agencies for over 20 years. This case study can highlight one approach and ongoing lessons learned for state and local jurisdictions confronting larger-scale questions about managed retreat, and the process of transitioning entire communities to higher ground. 

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Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Act of 1970

The Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Act of 1970 (URA) (42 U. S. C. §§ 4621 et seq. (2020); 49 C. F. R. pt. 24 (2020)) is a federal law enacted to provide standard and predictable real property acquisition and relocation expenses for homeowners and tenants of land acquired through eminent domain. URA ensures consistent treatment for people displaced through federal programs or with federal funding. State and local governments can learn and draw from URA when evaluating the amount and types of relocation assistance potentially provided for bought-out homeowners and tenants as a part of comprehensive retreat strategies.

Resource Category: Law and Governance

 

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Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, Boston, Massachusetts

The Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) in the Dudley Triangle neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts is one of the first examples of a city-land trust partnership designed to address a range of community challenges including housing affordability, and racial and economic inequality. In the 1980s, DSNI created the community land trust, Dudley Neighbors, Inc. (DNI) to combat blight in the Dudley Triangle neighborhood, which as a result of disinvestment had numerous vacant properties and became a frequent site for dumping and arson. The goal of the land trust was to facilitate redevelopment of the neighborhood without displacing existing residents and to empower community control over future development. DNI acquired 60 acres of land and currently stewards 225 units of affordable housing, an urban farm, a greenhouse, a charter school, parks, and a town common.  The DSNI is also notable because of the unique partnership with the City of Boston. The City granted the land trust eminent domain authority to condemn lands in the Dudley Triangle neighborhood and provided the land trust significant financial resources to support the development of affordable housing and other community projects in the neighborhood. DSNI’s work has helped to enhance the resilience of the community by preventing displacement in the face of rapid gentrification in the city, enhancing food security for residents, creating and stewarding green space that help to reduce urban heat islands, and by increasing social cohesion in the neighborhood through community activities and a community-led governing Board. DSNI shows how innovative public-partnerships between land trusts and cities can be fostered to address climate resilience and other community stressors, such as the lack of affordable housing, blight, and disinvestment.

Author or Affiliated User: Jessica Grannis

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Annexing and Preparing Higher Ground Receiving Areas in Princeville, North Carolina Through Post-Disaster Recovery Processes

In 2017, the Town of Princeville, North Carolina engaged experts and communities in a long-term, comprehensive planning process to annex a 53-acre parcel of land located outside of the town’s 100-year floodplain to develop a safer, higher ground area where residents, structures, and infrastructure can be relocated. After experiencing flooding impacts from Hurricane Matthew in 2016, Princeville was selected as one of six municipalities in North Carolina to receive technical and funding support from the state through the Hurricane Matthew Disaster Recovery and Resilience Initiative. Princeville provides an example for other municipalities either in a pre-or post-disaster context for how to balance the preservation of original townships while dealing with flooding vulnerabilities, while increasing the resiliency of core community assets and services through adaptation actions. As done in Princeville, local governments may consider options for relocating vulnerable residences and community facilities and services, including by annexing new land where sufficient higher ground land within existing municipal boundaries is not available to reallocate critical land uses and maintain local communities, tax bases, and economies.

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Yankeetown, Florida Natural Resource Adaptation Action Area

The Town of Yankeetown, Florida is utilizing a state authorized land-use planning tool  called Adaptation Action Areas  to mitigate the impacts of sea-level rise on local ecosystems. Specifically, Yankeetown is experiencing coastal inundation due to sea-level rise that is causing large swaths of coastal forests to rapidly decline and salt marshes to migrate inland, creating a phenomenon known as “ghost forests.” Yankeetown has taken a unique approach to planning for coastal change by utilizing Adaptation Action Areas. Adaptation Action Areas are overlay districts local governments can utilize to increase management attention and oversight over defined areas within their municipality with the goal of increasing resilience to sea-level rise impacts. Yankeetown amended its local comprehensive plan to create a “Natural Resource Adaptation Action Area,” which is the first instance of a locality in Florida using this tool for the purpose of natural resource management rather than solely infrastructure protection. The tool is helping Yankeetown shape future growth and development to conserve and protect its natural resources in the face of rising seas. Local governments could consider adopting overlay districts like Adaptation Action Areas or other zoning, land-use, or planning tools to reduce or limit development in wetland and forest migration pathways as a part of comprehensive retreat strategies. 

Resource Category: Law and Governance

 

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Maryland Senate Bill 457: Resilience Authorities

May 8, 2020

Passed on May 8, 2020, Maryland’s Senate Bill 457 authorizes local governments to establish and fund a Resilience Authority under local law, outlines the requirements to do so, and specifies the powers local governments may grant to an Authority. A Resilience Authority enables a local jurisdiction to flexibly organize funding structures for and manage large-scale infrastructure projects specifically aimed at addressing the effects of climate change, including sea-level rise, flooding, increased precipitation, erosion, and heatwaves.

Resource Category: Law and Governance

 

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New York State (NYSERDA) Clean Energy Workforce Development Program

New York State’s Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) developed the Clean Energy Workforce Development Program, committing more than $100 million through 2025 to converting the State’s workforce to a cleaner, more resilient future. Working with partners across the State - including small businesses, local governments, frontline community leaders, and more - NYSERDA is focusing on funding five programs in the clean energy sector, including: (1) training in energy efficiency and clean technology; (2) on the job/site training; (3) providing internships to young adults; (4) offering training on building operations and maintenance; and (5) funding contractors that provide clean energy training.

Resource Category: Education and Outreach

 

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City of Minneapolis, Minnesota Neighborhoods 2020: Community Engagement Working Group

December 2018

The City of Minneapolis’ Neighborhoods 2020 initiative is a process to restructure how the City serves and supports neighborhood organizations. As part of this process, Minneapolis formed a Community Engagement Policy Work Group, which created a framework for a Citywide Community Engagement Policy. This framework outlines the processes and stakeholder commitments necessary to improve the City’s engagement with community members, and places an emphasis on a thoughtful, integrated community engagement policy that extends to all members of Minneapolis. 

 

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Tiered Assistance Program

2017

The City of Philadelphia created the Tiered Assistance Program (TAP) in 2017 in order to address water affordability for low income communities. In Philadelphia, water affordability is an issue that affects a large number of families - between April 2012 and January 2018, 40% of households either had unpaid bills or some other sort of water debt. To address this issue, the Philadelphia Water Department implemented TAP, a program that allows customers to pay water bills at a percent of their income - this payment is capped at 3%. Through this program’s fixed rates, Philadelphians who are struggling to pay their water bill can budget more accurately and access more affordable water, which is predicted to result in increased payment rates and reduced water debts.

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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