Combined Final Notice and Public Explanation of a Proposed Activity | Legal Announcements

Combined Final Notice and Public Explanation of a Proposed Activity in a 100-Year Floodplain and Finding of No Significant Impact and Notice of Intent to Request Release of Funds Darlington County February 15, 2021 South Carolina Office of Resilience, Disaster Recovery Office (SCDRO) 632 Rosewood Drive Columbia, South Carolina 29201 These notices shall satisfy three separate but related procedural requirements for activities to be undertaken by the South Carolina Office of Resilience, Disaster Recovery Office (SCDRO). The proposed activities will assist Darlington County residents affected by Hurricane Florence, a Presidentially Declared Disaster. REQUEST FOR RELEASE OF FUNDS On or about February 15, 2021, the SCDRO will submit a request to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the release of Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds under Title I of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 (42 U.S.C. 5301 et seq.), as amended, and appropriated by the Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act, 2018 (Pub. L. 115254) and the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act, 2019 (Pub. L. 11620), to undertake a project known as Hurricane Florence Single-Family Housing Program (HUD CDBG-DR Grants B-19-DV-45-0001 / B-19-DV-45-0002) for the purpose of repair / rehabilitation, reconstruction, replacement and acquisition/buyout of single-family housing. SCDRO has allocated an estimated $72,075,000 in funding for the Hurricane Florence Single-Family Housing Program across an eight (8) county area. In accordance with the requirement to expend 80% ($57,660,000) of funds within the most impacted and distressed counties (Marion, Horry and Dillon), SCDRO estimates $2,883,000 in CDBG-DR funding will be expended on program activities in Darlington County. FINAL NOTICE AND PUBLIC EXPLANATION OF A PROPOSED ACTIVITY IN A 100-YEAR FLOODPLAIN This is to give notice that the SCDRO has conducted an evaluation as required by Executive Order 11988, in accordance with HUD regulations at 24 CFR 55.20 Subpart C Procedures for Making Determinations on Floodplain Management. The activity is funded under the Hurricane Florence Single-Family Housing Program under HUD grants B-19-DV-45-0001 and B-19-DV-45-0002. The proposed project(s) are located at scattered sites that have not yet been identified in Darlington County. The project will assist the most vulnerable families in their recovery efforts, by meeting their housing needs through the repair / rehabilitation of existing single-family (1-4 unit) housing; replacement of damaged Manufactured Housing Units (MHUs); reconstruction of disaster-damaged stick-built single-family (1-4 unit) homes; limited relocation assistance on a case-by-case basis; single-family (1-4 unit) rental repair; and acquisition / buyout. While the program strives to fund as many eligible projects as funding will allow, current estimates indicate that the program will fund approximately 500 single-family repair / replacement / reconstruction projects, 15 rental repair projects and 50 homeowner buyouts across an eight (8) county area, including Darlington County. Although developed residential properties in the 100-year floodplain typically do not contribute significantly to the function and value of natural floodplains, due to the extensive development of floodplains, it is not uncommon for areas of natural floodplains to be in close proximity, or even adjacent to, developed areas. Natural floodplains provide flood risk reduction benefits by slowing runoff and storing and conveying flood water. They also provide other benefits of considerable economic, social, and environmental value such as fish and wildlife habitat protection, natural flood and erosion control, surface water quality maintenance, groundwater discharge or recharge, biological productivity, and higher quality recreational opportunities (fishing, bird watching, boating, etc.). According to the FEMA National Flood Hazard data, approximately 53,594 acres (14.8%) of land in Darlington County, South Carolina lies within the 100-Year Floodplain also known as the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). The proposed project activities will be limited to the previously disturbed area of the property and will occur on previously developed, scattered residential sites throughout Darlington County, South Carolina. SCDRO has considered the following alternatives and mitigation measures to be taken to minimize adverse impacts and to restore and preserve natural and beneficial values: 1. Not implementing the proposed action in the 100-year floodplain. Doing so would significantly inhibit the program’s rehabilitation and reconstruction activities given that structures in the 100-year floodplain are significantly more likely to experience flood damage, in addition to preventing the program from addressing the housing needs of the most vulnerable and disproportionally impacted residents of South Carolina. 2. Commissioning infrastructure projects to achieve community-wide flood protection. It may take many years to study, design and implement such projects which does not accomplish the Program’s goal to primarily consider and meet the unmet housing recovery needs of these communities. Such projects can be cost-prohibitive and typically offer only limited flood protection to a finite area and number of structures. 3. Exclusively implement acquisition of damaged structures in the 100-year floodplain for demolition and conversion to green space to the exclusion of repair, reconstruction and replacement. This would further reduce the availability and affordability of housing stock for the most vulnerable populations within the community. Most of these residents would continue to live in the SFHA, in damaged, unsafe, and unsanitary housing. The program has opted to include this alternative within its project activities, as a means of offering assistance for properties that might otherwise not be eligible for assistance while simultaneously reducing future flood risk. 4. Relocating all projects outside of the 100-year floodplain. This is exorbitantly expensive and would vastly increase the cost of each individual housing project, thereby drastically reducing the number of projects the program could potentially fund. SCDRO has opted to allow this alternative in very limited circumstances, to be considered on a case-by-case basis when an applicant may be unable to receive a replacement MHU. 5. The most practicable alternative for most applicants is to implement the proposed action (repair, reconstruct, or replace single-family housing) in the 100-year floodplain with hazard mitigation requirements. This will be in compliance with state and local floodplain protection procedures. All rehabilitation projects will comply with the current HUD Housing Quality Standards (HQS). Construction methods that emphasize quality, durability, energy efficiency, sustainability, and mold resistance will be implemented. All rehabilitation, reconstruction, and new construction will be designed to incorporate principles of sustainability, including water and energy efficiency, resilience, and mitigation against the impact of future disasters, with the implementation of home construction standards. All residential structures located in the 100-year floodplain that receive assistance for new construction, repair of substantial damage, or substantial improvement, must be elevated with the lowest floor, including the basement, at least two feet above the 1-percent annual floodplain elevation. Residential structures with no dwelling units and no residents below two feet above the 1-percent annual floodplain, must be elevated or flood proofed up to at least two feet above the 1-percent annual floodplain. The owners of all properties in the 100-year floodplain, will be required to obtain and maintain flood insurance and are required to notify prospective future owners of the requirement to maintain flood insurance regardless of the transfer of ownership. Additionally, SCDRO will implement resilient practices to ensure the viability, durability and accessibility of replacement mobile homes. SCDRO has reevaluated the alternatives to building in the floodplain and has determined that while alternative five is the most practicable alternative, when feasible, alternatives 3 and 4 will be offered. Environmental files that document compliance with steps 3 through 6 of Executive Order 11988, are available for public inspection, review and copying upon request at the times and location delineated in the last paragraph of this notice for receipt of comments. There are three primary purposes for this final floodplain notice. First, people who may be affected by activities in floodplains and those who have an interest in the protection of the natural environment should be given an opportunity to express their concerns and provide information about these areas. Second, an adequate public notice program can be an important public educational tool. The dissemination of information and request for public comment about floodplains can facilitate and enhance Federal efforts to reduce the risks and impacts associated with the occupancy and modification of these special areas. Third, as a matter of fairness, when the Federal government determines it will participate in actions taking place in floodplains, it must inform those who may be put at greater or continued risk. FINDING OF NO SIGNIFICANT IMPACT The SCDRO has determined that the project will have no significant impact on the human or natural environment. Therefore, an Environmental Impact Statement under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) is not required. Additional project information is contained in the Environmental Review Record (ERR) on file at the South Carolina Disaster Recovery Office, located at 632 Rosewood Drive, Columbia, SC 29201 or online at https://admin.sc.gov/SCDRO/HUDdocs and may be examined or copied weekdays between 9:00 A.M. and 5:00 P.M. PUBLIC COMMENTS The proposed project will provide urgently needed safe and sanitary housing to residents impacted by Hurricane Florence, a Presidentially Declared Disaster. Therefore, as provided by federal regulations at 24 CFR 58.33(b), SCDRO is publishing the combined Finding of No Significant Impact and Notice of Intent to Request Release of Funds prior to the submission of the RROF to HUD. Any individual, group, or agency may submit written comments on these notices or the ERR to the South Carolina Office of Resilience, Disaster Recovery Office (SCDRO). Comments may be submitted to the attention of Eric Fosmire, Legal Director at SCDRO, 632 Rosewood Drive, Columbia, SC 29201, or by email at eric.fosmire@admin.sc.gov. All comments received by March 2, 2021 will be considered by the SCDRO prior to authorizing submission of a request for release of funds. Comments should specify which Notice they are addressing. ENVIRONMENTAL CERTIFICATION The South Carolina Office of Resilience, Disaster Recovery Office (SCDRO) certifies to HUD that Eric Fosmire, in his capacity as Legal Director at SCDRO, consents to accept the jurisdiction of the Federal Courts if an action is brought to enforce responsibilities in relation to the environmental review process and that these responsibilities have been satisfied. HUD’s approval of the certification satisfies its responsibilities under NEPA and related laws and authorities and allows the South Carolina Office of Resilience, Disaster Recovery Office (SCDRO) to use Program funds. OBJECTIONS TO RELEASE OF FUNDS The proposed project will provide urgently needed safe and sanitary housing to residents impacted by Hurricane Florence, a Presidentially Declared Disaster. Therefore, as provided by federal regulations at 24 CFR 58.33(b), SCDRO is publishing the combined Finding of No Significant Impact and Notice of Intent to Request Release of Funds prior to the submission of the RROF to HUD. HUD will accept objections to its release of funds and the SCDRO’s certification for a period of fifteen days following the anticipated submission date or its actual receipt of the request (whichever is later) only if they are on one of the following bases: (a) the certification was not executed by the Certifying Officer of the SCDRO; (b) the SCDRO has omitted a step or failed to make a decision or finding required by HUD regulations at 24 CFR part 58; (c) the grant recipient or other participants in the development process have committed funds, incurred costs or undertaken activities not authorized by 24 CFR Part 58 before approval of a release of funds by HUD; or (d) another Federal agency acting pursuant to 40 CFR Part 1504 has submitted a written finding that the project is unsatisfactory from the standpoint of environmental quality. Objections must be prepared and submitted in accordance with the required procedures (24 CFR Part 58, Sec. 58.76) and shall be addressed to Aaron B. Gagné, Disaster Recovery and Special Issues Division, CPD, HUD; 1835 Assembly Street, 13th Floor, Columbia, SC 29201-2460 or via email to Aaron.B.Gagne@hud.gov. Potential objectors should contact HUD to verify the actual last day of the objection period. Certifying Officer: Eric Fosmire, Legal Director, South Carolina Office of Resilience, Disaster Recovery Office