In establishing projected flood elevations and designating areas having special flood hazards for land use purposes with respect to any community pursuant to section 4102 of this title, the Administrator shall first propose such determinations and designations by publication for comment in the Federal Register, by direct notification to the chief executive officer of the community, and by publication in a prominent local newspaper.
The Administrator shall publish notification of flood elevation determinations and designations of areas having special flood hazards in a prominent local newspaper at least twice during the ten-day period following notification to the local government. During the ninety-day period following the second publication, any owner or lessee of real property within the community who believes his property rights to be adversely affected by the Administrator’s proposed determination may appeal such determination to the local government. The sole grounds for appeal shall be the possession of knowledge or information indicating that (1) the elevations being proposed by the Administrator with respect to an identified area having special flood hazards are scientifically or technically incorrect, or (2) the designation of an identified special flood hazard area is scientifically or technically incorrect.
Appeals by private persons shall be made to the chief executive officer of the community, or to such agency as he shall publicly designate, and shall set forth the data that tend to negate or contradict the Administrator’s finding in such form as the chief executive officer may specify. The community shall review and consolidate all such appeals and issue a written opinion stating whether the evidence presented is sufficient to justify an appeal on behalf of such persons by the community in its own name. Whether or not the community decides to appeal the Administrator’s determination, copies of individual appeals shall be sent to the Administrator as they are received by the community, and the community’s appeal or a copy of its decision not to appeal shall be filed with the Administrator not later than ninety days after the date of the second newspaper publication of the Administrator’s notification.
In the event the Administrator does not receive an appeal from the community within the ninety days provided, he shall consolidate and review on their own merits, in accordance with the procedures set forth in subsection (e), the appeals filed within the community by private persons and shall make such modifications of his proposed determinations as may be appropriate, taking into account the written opinion, if any, issued by the community in not supporting such appeals. The Administrator’s decision shall be in written form, and copies thereof shall be sent both to the chief executive officer of the community and to each individual appellant.
Upon appeal by any community, as provided by this section, the Administrator shall review and take fully into account any technical or scientific data submitted by the community that tend to negate or contradict the information upon which his proposed determination is based. The Administrator shall resolve such appeal by consultation with officials of the local government involved, by administrative hearing, or by submission of the conflicting data to the Scientific Resolution Panel provided for in section 4104–1 of this title. Until the conflict in data is resolved, and the Administrator makes a final determination on the basis of his findings in the Federal Register, and so notifies the governing body of the community, flood insurance previously available within the community shall continue to be available, and no person shall be denied the right to purchase such insurance at chargeable rates. The Administrator shall make his determination within a reasonable time. The community shall be given a reasonable time after the Administrator’s final determination in which to adopt local land use and control measures consistent with the Administrator’s determination. The reports and other information used by the Administrator in making his final determination shall be made available for public inspection and shall be admissible in a court of law in the event the community seeks judicial review as provided by this section.
When, incident to any appeal under subsection (b) or (c) of this section, the owner or lessee of real property or the community, as the case may be, or, in the case of an appeal that is resolved by submission of conflicting data to the Scientific Resolution Panel provided for in section 4104–1 of this title, the community, incurs expense in connection with the services of surveyors, engineers, or similar services, but not including legal services, in the effecting of an appeal based on a scientific or technical error on the part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is successful in whole or part, the Administrator shall reimburse such individual or community to an extent measured by the ratio of the successful portion of the appeal as compared to the entire appeal and applying such ratio to the reasonable value of all such services, but no reimbursement shall be made by the Administrator in respect to any fee or expense payment, the payment of which was agreed to be contingent upon the result of the appeal. The Administrator may use such amounts from the National Flood Insurance Fund established under section 4017 of this title as may be necessary to carry out this subsection. The Administrator shall promulgate regulations to carry out this subsection.
Except as provided in section 4104–1 of this title, any appellant aggrieved by any final determination of the Administrator upon administrative appeal, as provided by this section, may appeal such determination to the United States district court for the district within which the community is located not more than sixty days after receipt of notice of such determination. The scope of review by the court shall be as provided by chapter 7 of title 5. During the pendency of any such litigation, all final determinations of the Administrator shall be effective for the purposes of this chapter unless stayed by the court for good cause shown.