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Floodplain Management

Areas of Portland are subject to periodic inundation of flood waters which could result in loss of life and property, health and safety hazards, disruption of commerce and governmental services, extraordinary public expenditures for flood protection and relief, and impairment of the tax base, all of which adversely affect the public health, safety and general welfare. Some of these flood losses are caused by the cumulative effect of obstructions in floodplains, causing increases in flood heights and velocities; by placing uses in areas vulnerable to floods; or constructing buildings that are inadequately elevated, flood-proofed, or otherwise unprotected from flooding.

The State of Tennessee General Assembly has Title, 13, Chapter 7, Sections 13-7-201 through 13-7-210, Tennessee Code Annotated, delegated the responsibility to local governments to adopt regulations designed to promote the public health, safety, and general welfare of its citizenry. The City of Portland has adopted regulations to manage construction in flood zones including limits on constructing improvements to a property, excavating, or placing earthen fill.

Download and print: Portland Zoning Ordinance Article IX: Floodplain Districts

Floodplain Permitting Requirements

Floodplain Development Permit

A Floodplain Development Permit is required prior to the issuance of a building permit or any other development activity in a lot or parcel located within a designated Flood Hazard Area. Application for a development permit shall be made to the City Planner on forms furnished by the Planning Department. Additional documents may be required such as, plans in duplicate drawn to scale, showing the nature, location, dimensions, and elevations of the area in question; existing or proposed structures, earthen fill, storage of materials or equipment, drainage facilities. In some cases, before a Floodplain Development Permit can be issued a floodplain study and/or an Elevation Certificate may be required.

Most development in the Special Flood Hazard Area requires a Floodplain Development Permit. Types of development requiring a permit include:

  • New residential construction or manufactured home installation.
  • New commercial or industrial construction.
  • Installation or replacement of electrical, gas, and heating and air appliances.
  • Substantial improvement of an existing structure. Substantially improved residential structures must be elevated to at least one foot above the base flood elevation. Commercial property may be flood-proofed or elevated to the one foot above base flood elevation.
  • Alterations to the natural terrain including filling or excavating and any modifications to drainage way or stream.

Please consult the Planning Department or the city’s Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance for complete information regarding development in the Special Flood Hazard Area. Applications for a Floodplain Development Permit are located on the Application Page.

Improper or unpermitted development in the floodplain should be reported to Planning Department immediately. Improper modifications or development in the floodplain may result in additional flooding hazards and property damage.

Elevation Certificate

An Elevation Certificate may be required prior to or during the construction stage. For all new construction and substantial improvements located within or in close proximity to a Flood Hazard Area, the permit holder shall provide to the City Planner an Elevation Certificate, possibly at various stages, of the regulatory floor elevation or flood-proofing level upon the completion of the lowest floor in accordance with the City’s floodplain regulations or flood-proofing.

Always check on the floodplain status of your property before applying for a building permit or purchasing property. FEMA Flood Map Service Center