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Nov 5, 2005

Judge Tosses Out SC Flood Map

U.S. District Judge Margaret Seymour threw out a flood map prepared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) potentially clearing the way for the proposed $1 billion Green Diamond project south of Columbia, South Carolina. According to the Myrtle Beach Sun News, Burroughs & Chapin Co. Inc. had proposed to develop the 4,600 acre property along the Congaree River in Richland County.

In 2001, FEMA produced a new flood map, depicting 70 percent of the property in the flood plain. The new map ruled that levees placed along the river by a previous landowner were ineffective at protecting the property from flooding. Based on the new flood maps, Richland County then voted not to allow development in a flood zone, prohibiting the development. The developer then sued FEMA, arguing that the new flood maps were illegal, and that the method used to discount the effectiveness of the levees was scientifically flawed. While the judge's oral ruling backed the developer's claim, not addressed was what, if anything, FEMA could do to bring their map into compliance with the law. The parties await a formal written ruling, hoping that will give some guidance in the matter.