Public GIS Web Application Saves a Trip to County Offices
By Sarah Schrader, Goodhue County
Goodhue County developed a web application that allowed citizens to see how their property was affected by new FEMA flood maps. People whose properties were in or near the designated flood areas were mailed notices and invited to go to the site and zoom to their properties. The notices were mailed in anticipation of a public Planning Commission meeting on the topic and saved many citizens the trouble of attending that meeting.
To view the site, go here and click on "Interactive GIS Web Application".
County GIS staff created this basic ‘out-of-the-box’ application using ESRI’s ArcGIS Server 9.3 software. The site shows municipal boundaries, roads, parcels, imagery and updated FEMA floodway and flood zone information. Users can search for their property interactively or by entering their Property ID Number (PIN). There is an option to create a printable map and a link is also available to FEMA’s website for more information about the Flood Zone designations.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently completed the creation of the Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps (DFIRM’s) for Goodhue County, Minnesota. During the update process, there were many opportunities for public feedback regarding the updated information and maps. Most recently, FEMA had set the effective date for the final maps and Goodhue County staff were required to adopt the maps and amend their zoning ordinance to incorporate the changes by the effective date.
Because the floodplain is an overlay district in Goodhue County’s Zoning Maps, county staff were required by ordinance to send notices to every property that contained floodplain and every property that was within ½ mile of the floodplain. By these standards, county staff had to send notification letters to over 4,000 property owners! The notices were broken up into different groups to try to ease confusion: those whose parcels intersect any part of the new Flood Zone or Floodway, those whose structures intersect any part of the new Flood Zone or Floodway, and those property owners within a ½ mile of any of the new Flood Zone or Floodway areas. County staff added this topic to the agenda for an upcoming Planning Commission meeting. With so many property owners being notified, staff needed a better way to handle feedback and questions from citizens so that 4,000 people did not show up at the public meeting!
Over a period of two weeks, the web application was accessed over 140 times. County staff also fielded over 200 phone calls regarding the updated flood data and web application. Because of the availability of this web application, many citizens saved a drive to county offices for the public meeting and their questions were answered quickly and more efficiently. The web application also saved staff time by not having to create and print hard copy maps of each individual property owner’s land and mail it to them.
This web application was set up temporarily until the new FEMA data has been adopted by Goodhue County. Once the data has been finalized and adopted by the county, the new flood data will be added to Goodhue County’s general online GIS mapping site located here.