Article II. Definitions

Unless specifically defined below, words or phrases used in these regulations shall be interpreted to have the meaning they have in common usage and to give these regulations the most reasonable application. (Ordinance 626 effective 7/22/2013)

Accessory Structure: A building or structure on the same lot with, and of a nature customarily incidental and subordinate to, the principal structure. For the purposes of these regulations, an accessory structure shall be used solely for parking of vehicles and limited storage.

Agreement to Submit an Elevation Certificate: A form on which the applicant for a permit to construct a building or structure, to construct certain horizontal additions, to place or replace a manufactured home, to substantially improve a building, structure, or manufactured home, agrees to have an Elevation Certificate prepared by a licensed professional engineer or licensed professional surveyor, as specified by the Floodplain Administrator, and to submit the certificate:

(1) Upon placement of the lowest floor and prior to further vertical construction; and

(2) Prior to the final inspection and issuance of the Certificate of Occupancy.

Alteration of a Watercourse: For the purpose of these regulations, alteration of a watercourse includes, but is not limited to widening, deepening or relocating the channel, including excavation or filling of the channel. Alteration of a watercourse does not include construction of a road, bridge, culvert, dam, or in-stream pond unless the channel is proposed to be realigned or relocated as part of such construction.

Area of Shallow Flooding: A designated Zone AO on the Flood Insurance Rate Map with a 1- percent annual chance or greater of flooding to an average depth of one to three feet where a clearly defined channel does not exist, where the path of flooding is unpredictable, and where velocity flow may be evident; such flooding is characterized by ponding or sheet flow.

Base Building: The building to which an addition is being added. This term is used in provisions relating to additions.

Base Flood: The flood having a one-percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year; the base flood also is referred to as the 1-percent annual chance (100-year) flood.

Base Flood Elevation: The water surface elevation of the base flood in relation to the datum specified on the community’s Flood Insurance Rate Map. In areas of shallow flooding, the base flood elevation is the highest adjacent natural grade elevation plus the depth number specified in feet on the Flood Insurance Rate Map, or at least four (4) feet if the depth number is not specified.

Basement: Any area of the building having its floor subgrade (below ground level) on all sides.

Building Code(s): The effective Maryland Building Performance Standards (COMAR 05.02.07), including the building code, residential code, and existing building code.

Community: A political subdivision of the State of Maryland (county, city or town) that has authority to adopt and enforce floodplain management regulations within its jurisdictional boundaries.

Critical and Essential Facilities: Buildings and other structures that are intended to remain operational in the event of extreme environmental loading from flood, wind, snow or earthquakes. [Note: See Maryland Building Performance Standards, Sec. 1602 and Table 1604.5.] Critical and essential facilities typically include hospitals, fire stations, police stations, storage of critical records, facilities that handle or store hazardous materials, and similar facilities.

Declaration of Land Restriction (Nonconversion Agreement): A form signed by the owner to agree not to convert or modify in any manner that is inconsistent with the terms of the permit and these regulations, certain enclosures below the lowest floor of elevated buildings and certain accessory structures. The form requires the owner to record it on the property deed to inform future owners of the restrictions.

Development: Any manmade change to improved or unimproved real estate, including but not limited to buildings or other structures, placement of manufactured homes, mining, dredging, filling, grading, paving, excavation or drilling operations or storage of equipment or materials.

Elevation Certificate: FEMA Form 81-31, on which surveyed elevations and other data pertinent to a property and a building are identified and which shall be completed by a licensed professional land surveyor or a licensed professional engineer, as specified by the Floodplain Administrator. When used to document the height above grade of buildings in special flood hazard areas for which base flood elevation data are not available, the Elevation Certificate shall be completed in accordance with the instructions issued by FEMA. [Note: FEMA Form 81-31 and instructions are available online at]

Enclosure Below the Lowest Floor: An unfinished or flood-resistant enclosure that is located below an elevated building, is surrounded by walls on all sides, and is usable solely for parking of vehicles, building access or storage, in an area other than a basement area, provided that such enclosure is built in accordance with the applicable design requirements specified in these regulations. Also see “Lowest Floor.”

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): The Federal agency with the overall responsibility for administering the National Flood Insurance Program. Flood or Flooding: A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of normally dry land areas from:

(1) The overflow of inland or tidal waters, and/or

(2) The unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source.

Flood Damage-Resistant Materials: Any construction material that is capable of withstanding direct and prolonged contact with floodwaters without sustaining any damage that requires more than cosmetic repair. [Note: See NFIP Technical Bulletin #2, “Flood Damage-Resistant Materials Requirements.”]

Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM): An official map on which the Federal Emergency Management Agency has delineated special flood hazard areas to indicate the magnitude and nature of flood hazards, to designate applicable flood zones, and to delineate floodways, if applicable. FIRMs that have been prepared in digital format or converted to digital format are referred to as Digital FIRMs (DFIRM).

Flood Insurance Study (FIS): The official report in which the Federal Emergency Management Agency has provided flood profiles, floodway information, and the water surface elevations.

Flood Opening: A flood opening (non-engineered) is an opening that is used to meet the prescriptive requirement of 1 square inch of net open area for every square foot of enclosed area. An engineered flood opening is an opening that is designed and certified by a licensed professional engineer or licensed architect as meeting certain performance characteristics, including providing automatic entry and exit of floodwaters; the certification requirement may be satisfied by an individual certification or issuance of an Evaluation Report by the ICC Evaluation Service, Inc. [Note: See NFIP Technical Bulletin #1, “Openings in Foundation Walls and Walls of Enclosures.”]

Flood Protection Elevation: The base flood elevation plus two (2) feet of freeboard. Freeboard is a factor of safety that compensates for uncertainty in factors that could contribute to flood heights greater than the height calculated for a selected size flood and floodway conditions, such as wave action, obstructed bridge openings, debris and ice jams, climate change, and the hydrologic effect of urbanization in a watershed.

Flood Protection Setback: A distance measured perpendicular to the top of bank of a watercourse that delineates an area to be left undisturbed to minimize future flood damage and to recognize the potential for bank erosion. Along nontidal waters of the State, the flood protection setback is:

(1) 100 feet, if the watercourse has special flood hazard areas shown on the FIRM, except where the setback extends beyond the boundary of the flood hazard area; or

(2) 50 feet, if the watercourse does not have special flood hazard areas shown on the FIRM. Flood Zone: A designation for areas that are shown on Flood Insurance Rate Maps:

(1) Zone A: Special flood hazard areas subject to inundation by the 1-percent annual chance (100-year) flood; base flood elevations are not determined.

(2) Zone AE and Zone A1-30: Special flood hazard areas subject to inundation by the 1- percent annual chance (100-year) flood; base flood elevations are determined; floodways may or may not be determined. In areas subject to tidal flooding, the Limit of Moderate Wave Action may or may not be delineated.

(3) Zone AH and Zone AO: Areas of shallow flooding, with flood depths of 1 to 3 feet (usually areas of ponding or sheet flow on sloping terrain), with or without BFEs or designated flood depths.

(4) Zone B and Zone X (shaded): Areas subject to inundation by the 0.2-percent annual chance (500-year) flood; areas subject to the 1-percent annual chance (100-year) flood with average depths of less than 1 foot or with contributing drainage area less than 1 square mile; and areas protected from the base flood by levees.

(5) Zone C and Zone X (unshaded): Areas outside of Zones designated A, AE, A1-30, AO, VE, V1-30, B, and X (shaded).

(6) Zone VE and Zone V1-30: Special flood hazard areas subject to inundation by the 1- percent annual chance (100-year) flood and subject to high velocity wave action (also see coastal high hazard area).

Floodplain: Any land area susceptible to being inundated by water from any source (see definition of “Flood” or “Flooding”).

Floodproofing or Floodproofed: Any combination of structural and nonstructural additions, changes, or adjustments to buildings or structures which reduce or eliminate flood damage to real estate or improved real property, water and sanitary facilities, structures and their contents, such that the buildings or structures are watertight with walls substantially impermeable to the passage of water and with structural components having the capability of resisting hydrostatic and hydrodynamic loads and effects of buoyancy. [Note: State regulations at COMAR do not allow new nonresidential buildings in nontidal waters of the State to be floodproofed.]

Floodproofing Certificate: FEMA Form 81-65 that is to be completed, signed and sealed by a licensed professional engineer or licensed architect to certify that the design of floodproofing and proposed methods of construction are in accordance with the applicable requirements of Section 5.5(B) of these regulations. [Note: FEMA Form 81-65 is available online at]

Floodway: The channel of a river or other watercourse and the adjacent land areas that must be reserved in order to pass the base flood discharge such that the cumulative increase in the water surface elevation of the base flood discharge is no more than a designated height. When shown on a FIRM, the floodway is referred to as the “designated floodway.”

Functionally Dependent Use: A use which cannot perform its intended purpose unless it is located or carried out in close proximity to water; the term includes only docking facilities, port facilities that are necessary for the loading and unloading of cargo or passengers, and ship building and ship repair facilities, but does not include long-term storage or related manufacturing facilities.

Highest Adjacent Grade: The highest natural elevation of the ground surface, prior to construction, next to the proposed foundation of a structure.

Historic Structure: Any structure that is:

(1) Individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places (a listing maintained by the U.S. Department of Interior) or preliminarily determined by the Secretary of the Interior as meeting the requirements for individual listings on the National Register;

(2) Certified or preliminarily determined by the Secretary of the Interior as contributing to the historical significance of a registered historic district or a district preliminarily determined by the Secretary to qualify as a registered historic district;

(3) Individually listed on the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties maintained by the Maryland Historical Trust; or

(4) Individually listed on the inventory of historic places maintained by Town of Easton whose historic preservation program has been certified by the Maryland Historical Trust or the Secretary of the Interior.

Hydrologic and Hydraulic Engineering Analyses: Analyses performed by a licensed professional engineer, in accordance with standard engineering practices that are accepted by the Maryland Department of the Environment (Nontidal Wetlands & Waterways) and FEMA, used to determine the base flood, other frequency floods, flood elevations, floodway information and boundaries, and flood profiles.

Letter of Map Change (LOMC): A Letter of Map Change is an official FEMA determination, by letter, that amends or revises an effective Flood Insurance Rate Map or Flood Insurance Study. Letters of Map Change include:

Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA): An amendment based on technical data showing that a property was incorrectly included in a designated special flood hazard area. A LOMA amends the current effective Flood Insurance Rate Map and establishes that a specific property or structure is not located in a special flood hazard area.

Letter of Map Revision (LOMR): A revision based on technical data that may show changes to flood zones, flood elevations, floodplain and floodway delineations, and planimetric features.  A Letter of Map Revision Based on Fill (LOMR-F), is a determination that a structure or parcel of land has been elevated by fill above the base flood elevation and is, therefore, no longer exposed to flooding associated with the base flood. In order to qualify for this determination, the fill must have been permitted and placed in accordance with the community’s floodplain management regulations.

Conditional Letter of Map Revision (CLOMR): A formal review and comment as to whether a proposed flood protection project or other project complies with the minimum NFIP requirements for such projects with respect to delineation of special flood hazard areas. A CLOMR does not revise the effective Flood Insurance Rate Map or Flood Insurance Study; upon submission and approval of certified as-built documentation, a Letter of Map Revision may be issued by FEMA, to revise the effective FIRM.

Licensed: As used in these regulations, licensed refers to professionals who are authorized to practice in the State of Maryland by issuance of licenses by the Maryland Board of Architects, Maryland Board of Professional Engineers, Maryland Board of Professional Land Surveyors, and the Maryland Real Estate Appraisers and Home Inspectors Commission.

Lowest Floor: The lowest floor of the lowest enclosed area (including basement) of a building or structure; the floor of an enclosure below the lowest floor is not the lowest floor provided the enclosure is constructed in accordance with these regulations. The lowest floor of a manufactured home is the bottom of the lowest horizontal supporting member (longitudinal chassis frame beam).

Manufactured Home: A structure, transportable in one or more sections, which is built on a permanent chassis and is designed for use with or without a permanent foundation when connected to the required utilities. The term manufactured home does not include a recreational vehicle.

Market Value: The price at which a property will change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither party being under compulsion to buy or sell and both having reasonable knowledge of relevant facts. For the purposes of these regulations, the market value of a building is determined by a licensed real estate appraiser or the most recent, full phased-in assessment value of the building (improvement) determined by the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation.

Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE): A principal department of the State of Maryland that is charged with, among other responsibilities, the coordination of the National Flood Insurance Program in Maryland (NFIP State Coordinator) and the administration of regulatory programs for development and construction that occur within the waters of the State, including nontidal wetlands, nontidal waters and floodplains, and State and private tidal wetlands (Tidal Wetlands). Unless otherwise specified, “MDE” refers to the Department’s Wetlands and Waterways Program.

National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP): The program authorized by the U.S. Congress in 42 U.S.C. §§4001 - 4129. The NFIP makes flood insurance coverage available in communities that agree to adopt and enforce minimum regulatory requirements for development in areas prone to flooding (see definition of “Special Flood Hazard Area”).

New Construction: Structures, including additions and improvements, and the placement of manufactured homes, for which the start of construction commenced on or after September 28, 1984, the initial effective date of the Town of Easton Flood Insurance Rate Map, including any subsequent improvements, alterations, modifications, and additions to such structures.

NFIP State Coordinator: See Maryland Department of the Environment.

Nontidal Waters of the State: See “Waters of the State.” As used in these regulations, “nontidal waters of the State” refers to any stream or body of water within the State that is subject to State regulation, including the “100-year frequency floodplain of free-flowing waters.” COMAR 26.17.04 states that “the landward boundaries of any tidal waters shall be deemed coterminous with the wetlands boundary maps adopted pursuant to Environment Article, §16-301, Annotated Code of Maryland.” Therefore, the boundary between the tidal and nontidal waters of the State is the tidal wetlands boundary.

Person: An individual or group of individuals, corporation, partnership, association, or any other entity, including State and local governments and agencies.

Recreational Vehicle: A vehicle that is built on a single chassis, 400 square feet or less when measured at the largest horizontal projection, designed to be self-propelled or permanently towable by a light duty truck, and designed primarily not for use as a permanent dwelling, but as temporary living quarters for recreational, camping, travel, or seasonal use.

Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA): The land in the floodplain subject to a one-percent or greater chance of flooding in any given year. Special flood hazard areas are designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Flood Insurance Studies and on Flood Insurance Rate Maps as Zones A, AE, AH, AO, A1-30, and A99. The term includes areas shown on other flood maps that are identified in Section 1.5.

Start of Construction: The date the building permit was issued, provided the actual start of construction, repair, reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition placement, or other improvement was within 180 days of the permit date. The actual start means either the first placement of permanent construction of a structure on a site, such as the pouring of slab or footings, the installation of piles, the construction of columns, or any work beyond the stage of excavation; or the placement of a manufactured home on a foundation. Permanent construction does not include land preparation, such as clearing, grading and filling; nor does it include the installation of streets and/or walkways; nor does it include excavation for a basement, footings, piers, or foundations or the erection of temporary forms; nor does it include the installation on the property of accessory structures, such as garages or sheds not occupied as dwelling units or not part of the main structure. For substantial improvements, the actual start of construction means the first alteration of any wall, ceiling, floor, or other structural part of a building, whether or not that alteration affects the external dimensions of the building.

Structure: That which is built or constructed; specifically, a walled and roofed building, including a gas or liquid storage tank that is principally above ground, as well as a manufactured home.

Substantial Damage: Damage of any origin sustained by a building or structure whereby the cost of restoring the building or structure to its before damaged condition would equal or exceed 50 percent of the market value of the building or structure before the damage occurred. Also used as “substantially damaged” structures.

Substantial Improvement: Any reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition, or other improvement of a building or structure, the cost of which equals or exceeds 50 percent of the market value of the building or structure before the start of construction of the improvement. The term includes structures which have incurred substantial damage, regardless of the actual repair work performed. The term does not, however, include either:

(1) Any project for improvement of a building or structure to correct existing violations of State or local health, sanitary, or safety code specifications which have been identified by the local code enforcement official prior to submission of an application for a permit and which are the minimum necessary to assure safe living conditions; or

(2) Any alteration of a historic structure, provided that the alteration will not preclude the structure’s continued designation as a historic structure.

Temporary Structure: A structure installed, used, or erected for a period of less than 180 days.

Variance: A grant of relief from the strict application of one or more requirements of these regulations.

Violation: Any construction or development in a special flood hazard area that is being performed without an issued permit. The failure of a building, structure, or other development for which a permit is issued to be fully compliant with these regulations and the conditions of the issued permit. A building, structure, or other development without the required design certifications, the Elevation Certificate, or other evidence of compliance required is presumed to be a violation until such time as the required documentation is provided.

Watercourse: The channel, including channel banks and bed, of nontidal waters of the State.

Waters of the State: [See Environment Article, Title 5, Subtitle 1, Annotated Code of Maryland.] Waters of the State include:

(1) Both surface and underground waters within the boundaries of the State subject to its jurisdiction;

(2) That portion of the Atlantic Ocean within the boundaries of the State;

(3) The Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries;

(4) All ponds, lakes, rivers, streams, public ditches, tax ditches, and public drainage systems within the State, other than those designed and used to collect, convey, or dispose of sanitary sewage; and

(5) The floodplain of free-flowing waters determined by MDE on the basis of the 100-year flood frequency.