By Donald Jay Howton
There has been a significant increase in flooding throughout the city of Bessemer in recent years. These natural occurrences cause substantial damage to multiple properties and threaten public safety.
The benefit of a floodplain buyout program will be appreciable.
The Bessemer City Council approved on the 17th of October 2023 an ordinance to establish and adopt a Floodplain Buyout Program Ordinance. Participation in the Flood Plain Buyout Program is strictly voluntary.
Storm Water Management’s Freddie Freeman said, “This ordinance is the tool that has been needed for a longtime to give the citizens a choice to either remain in a flood plain or relocate.”
The purpose of the Ordinance is to promote public health, safety and general welfare and to minimize public and private losses due to flood conditions in specific areas establishing a Floodplain Buyout Program.
The Program will provide owners of property located in a high-risk flood hazard area or floodway the opportunity to sell their property to the city of Bessemer at its assessed value or its fair market value as determined by a qualified appraiser.
Following the sale of the property, relocation funds will be provided to the homeowner by the city. Next, structures on the property will be demolished and utilities retired. The city will also deed the property as Open Space so that in the case of flooding, the waters will flow as intended.
For local taxpayers, buyouts reduce future public costs for evacuation, emergency shelter and debris removal services. In addition, buyouts provide the added benefit of improving flood storage and conveyance, enhancing habitat for fish and wildlife and supporting water quality.
For questions concerning the program and eligibility contact the City of Bessemer Building Department at 205-424-4060 ext. 4188.