At the Tuesday, March 21 Rushford Village Council meeting, Zoning Administrator Jon Pettit notified the council that a revised version of proposed flood mapping has been found. The maps, a work in progress for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), are nearly to the deadline for comment and correction, not including any appeal processes.
“It’s kind of a big deal,” said Pettit. “After we talked about the floodplain, we found in the interim, we’d received another flood plain map.” According to Pettit, sometime during the period when former Village Clerk Kristina Mart resigned and new Village Clerk Mary Miner came on board, a revised version of the proposed map was mailed to the city and then put aside without anyone knowing. “We’re not sure how it came about. The revised map came here in June. She found it in the storage room, in the envelope, still folded up. We’ve been referring to something too old to be referred to,” added Pettit.
The map the Village had been referencing was from 2012. Between it and the 2016 map there are discrepancies. It’s possible that changes were made to the map due to engineering that was done in the south Rushford area of the city. However, it’s largely unclear whether changes to culverts, ponding, and water flow were the triggers for the revisions and the city will need to discuss the matter with the city engineer, Bolton & Menk.
Pettit consulted with insurance agent and Councilor Dennis Overland about the matter and what it means for the city and its residents. “There are some areas that are touched by the flood plain. We received it in the interim and didn’t get a handle on it,” acknowledged Pettit. It appears that even if homes aren’t in the flood plain, portions of properties are and it could lead to lenders requiring flood insurance on those parcels.
City Attorney Tom Manion indicated that there’s a public interest at stake. Flood plain designation could limit development in the Village and real estate price value may be affected by insurance requirements, according to Manion.
“We have to have that dialogue; why did it change?” said Mayor Gordon Johnson.
What is clear is that FEMA has to determine the elevations to designate a flood plain and that landowners are responsible for addressing or contesting incorrect information with the agency. Residents and business owners can check the proposed status for their property online. Properties are searchable by address or latitude/longitude coordinates. The website is: www.msc.fema.gov/portal.
In other news, the Village continues its discussion on policing. Mayor Gordon Johnson stressed that the city is not without coverage. “We have police protection. We just don’t have an agreement for reimbursement of the City [of Rushford]. Our police protection didn’t change.” Johnson maintains that all the current agreement only details that the City of Rushford Police Department will be reimbursed by the Village when called out by the Fillmore County Sheriff’s Department. “They don’t want reimbursement. They want to patrol,” he continued. “Some people want that. Some don’t.”
Councilor Chad Rasmussen noted he’d received more communication from residents regarding the policing issue than even the recent road project. The biggest question seems to revolve around whether policing with a contemporary contract would entail patrolling the residential subdivisions in north and south of Rushford Village or whether patrolling would be over the Village as a whole, including more rural areas. The answer is unclear.
Mayor Johnson indicated that he is waiting on a response from Fillmore County Sheriff Tom Kaase for further dialogue before anything can be decided. “It came to mind for me that rather than be hasty with anything, we really need to communicate with our public and find out what it is they really want and need; to come together as a community. We want to hear what they have to say.” Johnson suggested the Village hold a town hall-style meeting for the purpose of public discussion.
“Rather than make a decision to jump to this or do a little bit of nothing, we need to get the community’s opinion,” cautioned Johnson. A series of questions and information about the policing issue will be on the forthcoming Village newsletter. Residents and encouraged to reply.
The council also discussed an issue with a water leak in south Rushford. The curb stop hasn’t been located on the property and it may be that a deck constructed in 2007 is covering it. Public Works Supervisor Travis Scheck is digging and working with a detector, but cannot locate the shut off. The source of the leak is a 90-degree bend in the line, in a six-foot deep pit, prior to where the water is metered.
If the curb stop is located, the city will shut off the water for the property and address the problem. If it is not located, the water for a city block will need to be turned off so a curb stop can be put in and the leak addressed. The city will need to coordinate with a plumber and utility location services if the latter option. Residents would be notified by flyer if that would need to happen.
“We have to get it fixed,” stressed Scheck. It’s unclear how the cost of work will be determined and which party will be responsible for it. “It adds up pretty quick,” he continued while discussing the severity of the problem.
The next regularly scheduled council meeting is Tuesday, April 4, at 7 p.m., at the Village Hall. The public is encouraged to attend.