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DeFazio joins mayors of Springfield and Coos Bay in concerns over FEMA flood insurance

"They want FEMA to prohibit redevelopment in large areas of Oregon, overriding our own land use laws," Rep. Peter DeFazio said. "They can't do that."

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - The national flood insurance program through FEMA now has to make sure it complies with the Endangered Species Act after thea gency was sued in 2009.

But the new requirements that are being proposed for flood prone areas have local leaders concerned about future redevelopment.

"They want FEMA to prohibit redevelopment in large areas of Oregon, overriding our own land use laws," Rep. Peter DeFazio said. "They can't do that."

DeFazio met with mayors and city planners from Springfield and Coos Bay on Wednesday to discuss proposed federal flood plain changes.

The National Marine Fisheries Service is asking FEMA to deny flood insurance to any property that lies within the 500-year flood plain, any property with a .2 percent likelihood of flooding in any given year.

"All of north Springfield up around Hayden Bridge prohibited from development or redevelopment, and these are areas that have been carefully zoned under Oregon's land use law which is one of the strictest in the United States of America," DeFazio said.

The City of Springfield has been working to redevelop the Glenwood area along Franklin Boulevard. Under the proposed requirements, future development wouldn't be possible.

Flood insurance for homeowners and the impact it could have on affordable housing is also concerning for city leaders.

"So many more are going to have to have flood insurance, they're not going to be able to hang on to their houses. Flood insurance is very expensive," Springfield Mayor Christine Lundberg said.

And Springfield isn't the only city that would be greatly affected by these new requirements.

The entire downtown area of Coos Bay is already under the 100 year flood plain. The worst case scenario for a 500-year flood

"This would simply be an opportunity for the federal government to tell us we should not exist as a city," Mayor Crystal Shoji of Coos Bay said.

The National Marine Fisheries Services issued this statement:

"We are working constructively with FEMA to implement effective improvements in the national flood insurance program in an orderly and successful way that benefits salmon and communities, and we will continue to do so in close conjunction with FEMA, Oregon and the public. "

DeFazio said he worked on a bill that just passed the House that would prohibit other federal agencies from forcing another to do things that it doesn't have legal authority to do.

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