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August 10, 2009 | last updated December 1, 2011 1:05 am

FEMA move jeopardizes Portland development

The federal government has proposed reclassifying Portland Harbor in its flood insurance rate map, a move that city officials say would devastate the working waterfront by prohibiting new construction on its private and public piers.

As part of a national effort to save lives and reduce flood loss claims, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has proposed rezoning the harbor as an area where waves could cause structural damage in a 100-year flood, which is defined as a flood elevation that has a 1% chance of being equaled or exceeded in a given year, according to the Portland Press Herald. The reclassification would prohibit building of new structures and limit substantial renovations on piers and wharfs that are over water. That would put an end to even downsized plans to redevelop the Maine State Pier, the paper reported.

City officials are working with the state's congressional delegation to delay the release of the new map until after they have an opportunity to challenge the data and methodology.

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