Most local governments in Minnesota have some form of a floodplain ordinance. Local government units must adopt ordinances in order to be in full compliance with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) – which is required for flood insurance and certain types of disaster assistance.
The DNR is required to review and approve all new and amended floodplain ordinances prior to their adoption to verify that minimum state and federal standards are met. Local governments considering adopting an ordinance for the first time are encouraged to do so, and this would also require formal enrollment in the NFIP.
Local governments should think about the flood risks unique to their community during any ordinance amendment process. Most of the federal and state minimum floodplain standards were developed over fifty years ago, and our knowledge of flood risk has evolved since that time. Each ordinance will reference the official flood maps, but many of these maps do not always give an accurate picture of flood potential. A carefully crafted ordinance can reduce a community’s exposure to risk, preserve the near-shore area, and maintain the stream stabilizing and pollution and sediment filtering functions that floodplains provide.
State Model Ordinances
Most local governments in Minnesota have an ordinance based off a previous version of the State’s model. The model has been revised a number of times over the years for various reasons, with the most significant update occurring in early 2022. Local governments are encouraged to adopt the most recent version during each ordinance amendment.
Any communities interested in amending or adopting their ordinances should contact DNR's Floodplain Program staff at [email protected] early in the process. Your DNR Area Hydrologist should also be kept in the loop. Each ordinance will vary slightly, depending on the types of flood risk shown on the official FEMA maps. The DNR can provide a more customized Microsoft Word version of these ordinances, and will help guide your community through the ordinance amendment, review, and approval process.
- Minnesota Model Floodplain Ordinance - This comprehensive ordinance regulates three districts: (a) floodway, (b) flood fringe, and (c) A Zones ("general floodplain") - identified as separate districts in the ordinance. The version posted here contains right margin commentary that details other items worth considering during ordinance development.
- Minnesota Simplified Floodplain Ordinance - This ordinance prohibits buildings from developed in the floodplain. Consider using this model ordinance if your community has a FEMA flood risk map, but has limited existing and potential development within the mapped floodplain, or if the mapped floodplain consists of large lots that can accommodate alternative building locations.
- Minnesota No Map Floodplain Ordinance - Adoption of an ordinance is required in order to participate in the NFIP – whether a community has their flood risk areas mapped or not. This ordinance is for communities that do not have a FEMA flood risk map, or if there are no flood risk areas within your corporate boundaries on a FEMA map.
Matt Bauman, Floodplain and Shoreland Planner, [email protected] 651-259-5710