Oakes Boulevard homeowner Tim Witherite did not get the answer he was looking for Tuesday night at the Golden Gate Community Center.
Under new federal flood zone maps, Witherite will have to buy flood insurance but his neighbors on either side will not, he said as he left a Collier County meeting on the new maps.
“It’s government bureaucracy at its best,” said Witherite, 56, who’s lived in the same house since the 1980s. “We’ve never flooded. Not even close.”
Witherite was among some 150 people who turned out for Tuesday’s meeting, standing in a line that stretched down the hallway and almost out the door even before the meeting’s official start at 6 p.m.
Collier County workers manned a bank of eight computers to help homeowners find their property on aerial color-coded maps and get the answer to the question on everybody’s mind: What will the new flood zones mean for me?
“We’re trying to show them as quickly as we can where they stand,” the county’s floodplain map project manager Robert Wiley said.
Golden Gate Estates homeowner Randy Slaby, 51, found out he would have good news for his neighbors on Third Street Southwest: They are not in a flood zone.
“It’s another premium that a lot of people right now can’t afford,” Slaby said.
Another homeowners meeting is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the University of Florida’s IFAS Center, 14700 Immokalee Road, near the Collier County fairgrounds.
Fewer people are expected to have to dig into their pocketbooks under new maps finalized in November 2011, county officials said.
The county appealed preliminary Federal Emergency Management Agency maps that showed as many as 50,000 new properties would have to carry flood insurance. That number is now down to an estimated 30,000 new properties, Wiley said.
The appeal focused on two basins in eastern Collier County, one in Golden Gate Estates and one between Radio and Immokalee roads and roughly between Goodlette-Frank Road and Collier Boulevard.
FEMA has been reviewing the flood maps since 2004 but used outdated topographic maps that didn’t reflect new development since 2001, the county argued.
Collier County commissioners are expected to vote on whether to approve the maps Jan. 24 and set an effective date of March 30 for building plan review purposes. The maps would go into effect May 16 for insurance purposes.
The county is working to get the new flood maps on its website by the end of the month, at www.colliergov.net/floodmaps,Wiley said.