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County revises flood plain management plan

SHERIDAN — On Tuesday, the Board of County Commissioners re-visited a motion that was defeated in their Nov. 5 meeting regarding regulations for flood plain management in Sheridan County.

After discussion of several options for revising the regulations, the commissioners unanimously passed an amended motion requesting the public works director to modify the regulations for final consideration Dec. 17.

Revisions will address the two primary concerns expressed by Sheridan County residents in past meetings.

The revisions will eliminate a county-wide requirement that all new development in flood plains — including new houses, substantial additions and agriculturally related structures such as corrals and fences — be built one foot or more above base flood elevation.

The revised regulations will require new development to be built at or above base flood elevation in the county and one foot or more above BFE in the code enforcement area, an approximately one-mile “donut” around city limits that serves as a joint planning area. This will match city flood regulations and allow for seamless transitions should contiguous county land be annexed into city limits in the future, Commissioner Terry Cram said.

The changes will also eliminate requirements for applicants who live in “A Zones,” or areas near creeks that don’t have base flood elevation data, to hire an engineer to compute BFE for their land.

The revised regulations will allow the county to use historical flood data and other available maps and information to best estimate base flood elevation and determine the safest place to build. This lines up with city flood codes and prevents residents from having to pay for an engineer’s study, which was estimated by one local engineer to cost $3,000-$5,000, give or take, depending on land size and terrain.

“I think this addresses the issues on the table and in the minds of members of the community,” Commissioner Bob Rolston said. “I believe we’re headed down the right path on this.”

A few residents were present at the meeting, even though there was no public hearing. One resident, George Meredith, was allowed to address the commissioners. He said the flood plain regulations represented a taking of private property without compensation, citing the 14th amendment, and said there could be financial consequences if anyone decided to take action against the county.

On the original motion Nov. 5, the commissioners split their vote three against and two for the flood plain regulations. Tuesday, the vote was 5-0 in favor of the amended motion. The commissioners will formally adopt the rules and regulations regarding flood plain management at their meeting Dec. 17 after the public works department has made the modifications.

“People have a choice, is the main issue,” Commissioner Tom Ringley said. “It’s just about the end of the road on this subject.”

The board is required to adopt the new regulations, which include new flood insurance rate maps and flood studies along 66 miles of the Goose creeks and Soldier Creek, by Jan. 16, 2014, in order to maintain eligibility in the National Flood Insurance program through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

 

 

 

 

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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