By Jane Smith
Delray Beach city commissioners unanimously approved the revised Coastal Management segment of their comprehensive plan on Dec. 11.
The Coastal Management element is one chapter of the city’s plan, which acts as a wish book to guide the city over the next decade. With the help of a branding firm, Delray Beach planners dubbed the plan update “Always Delray.”
On Dec. 11, commissioners learned that the Coastal Management area is now larger by nearly 157 acres, or 25 percent, because it includes more of the western areas along the Intracoastal Waterway that are prone to flooding.
The addition came from the Development Services staffers who used a consultant and a steering committee of city residents to review the current comprehensive plan and suggest changes.
The coastal segment takes into account the low-lying land along the Intracoastal Waterway that saw tidal flooding only with the highest of tides in the past, but now sees “nuisance flooding more often,” said barrier island resident Andy Katz. He was part of the Always Delray steering committee and worked on the Coastal Management segment of the plan.
The city also recognizes that sea level rise, from melting ice on land masses and warmer waters, is coming more quickly than scientists predicted, Katz said.
While it’s hard to assign an exact year to the sea level rise scenarios that will be submitted with the plan, Katz said that nearly all scientists agree that Delray Beach could see 2 feet of sea level rise in the 2060 decade.
Natural disaster planning was removed from the Coastal Management segment, said Tim Stillings, Development Services director. “It’s a citywide initiative and was moved to the Conservation, Sustainability and Resiliency segment,” Stillings wrote in an email after the meeting.
Another change is the availability of better mapping techniques to show potential flooding and elevation of the various city streets, Stillings wrote.
The City Commission will have a chance to review the entire plan in the spring before it is sent to the state.
The state requires a comprehensive plan update every 10 years. Delray Beach submitted the current update in March 2008.