BOCC reviews flood plain regulations

SHERIDAN — The Board of County Commissioners discussed how it would handle revisions to the county’s new rules and regulations governing flood plain management at its staff meeting Tuesday. The meeting was rescheduled from its regular time on Monday due to the Veterans Day holiday.

The commissioners rejected the new regulations at their meeting Nov. 5 by a vote of 3-2. Commissioners who voted to reject the rules said they felt too rushed and wanted more time to work on a few areas of concern voiced by several residents at the meeting.

At that meeting, it was stated that once the regulations were revised they would have to be considered by the County Planning and Zoning Commission (which recommended approval of the rules at its meeting in October) before being heard again by the county commissioners.

There is a Jan. 16, 2014, deadline to adopt the new regulations, which include new Flood Insurance Rate Maps and a new flood study, in order to maintain eligibility in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Flood Insurance Program.

However, Deputy County Attorney Lynn Smith said at Thursday’s planning commission meeting and Tuesday’s BOCC staff meeting that further review of Robert’s Rules of Order showed differently. Smith said that a motion that fails can be brought back at a later meeting of the same body if all requirements for publication and public hearings about the matter have been met.

Commissioners then discussed the two areas of concern in the revised regulations. These include a requirement that all new development within a flood plain be built at least 1 foot above the Base Flood Elevation and a requirement that people who want to develop in “A zones,” which are areas near creeks without any official data, obtain an engineer’s study — which cost $3,000-$5,000 — to determine the Base Flood Elevation.

Concerned residents felt these two requirements were too restrictive because they were more than is required in FEMA’s model regulations.

The commissioners have asked County Public Works Director Rod Liesinger to present them with a staff memo that details options for revision.

They said this should include three options for the Base Flood Elevation: to keep the BFE+1 rule, to eliminate the +1 rule, or to require a BFE+1 in the joint planning area, which is an approximately one-mile radius around the city limits, but not in the county.

For the engineering study requirement, commissioners asked for two options: to require it if no data is available, or to not require it and allow staff to determine the Base Flood Elevation as best they can with available historical data.

The county commissioners hope to have the revisions complete in time to discuss the new rules and regulations governing flood plain management at their Dec. 3 meeting.

About

Hannah Wiest is the government and outdoors reporter for The Sheridan Press. She has lived in Colorado and Montana but loves her sunny home state of Wyoming best. She joined The Press staff in February 2013.

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