Establish the Planning Area

The planning area refers to the geographic area covered by the plan. Generally, the planning area follows local government jurisdictional boundaries, such as cities, townships, counties, or planning districts. However, planning areas also may be defined by watersheds or other natural features, particularly where hazards create similar risks across jurisdictional boundaries. A jurisdiction’s boundaries may also cross over or encompass other jurisdictions, such as a fire protection district or a utility district.

The State Hazard Mitigation Officer (SHMO) or state emergency management agency can help communities determine the appropriate planning area. This determination may be based on state planning goals and planning grant funding priorities.

Best Practice

Wrightsville Beach, NC

The Town of Wrightsville Beach, NC 2009 Hazard Mitigation Plan was selected as a best single jurisdiction plan because it clearly defined its planning area and jurisdiction with the use of a map. The map(shown below) points out where Wrightsville Beach is located within the state of North Carolina, and identifies the corporate limits.



Mitigation Plan Updates

If you are updating your community’s plan, determine if the planning area defined in the previously approved plan is still appropriate. Review any lessons learned in the previous planning process. Consider whether your community’s mitigation planning needs were met by the previous planning effort or whether your community would benefit from adjusting the planning area and the participating jurisdictions.

Existing Partnerships and Planning Efforts

There are many possible options for the planning area based on existing planning projects, relationships, and partnerships. Consider whether your community currently collaborates with regional organizations, councils of government, or other established multi-jurisdictional partnerships for planning activities related to comprehensive planning, watershed protection, or transportation. Counties may provide emergency management or development review services to jurisdictions within their boundaries. These activities coordinate well with the goals of mitigation planning, so a countywide plan can be a good approach.

Prior to beginning the planning process, determine if other planning efforts could be aligned or integrated with the mitigation plan to save time and money and create better outcomes for your community. For instance, mitigation plan development could be integrated into a community’s process for updating its comprehensive plan. Or, if your community participates in the Community Rating System (CRS), you could design the mitigation planning process to maximize CRS credit for floodplain management planning. A FEMA program, CRS rewards communities that go beyond the minimum standards for floodplain management under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) by providing flood insurance premium discounts for policy holders in the community. Appendix A includes a worksheet that cross-references the CRS and mitigation planning requirements (see Worksheet 1.1).