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County Board debates flood plain restrictions

Fri, Apr 11th, 2008
Posted in Government

PRESTON - Zoning Administrator Norman Craig came prepared with copies of the current ordinance on flood plains at the April 8 meeting of the Board of Commissioners. Confusion as to what is allowed to be built in a flood plain was the issue. Craig explained that the definition of a flood plain is divided into two designations including a "floodway" where nothing can be built and a "flood fringe" where building can be permissible under certain conditions. To build in a "flood fringe" a property owner must hire an engineer to locate the "flood fringe." A building on the fringe would need to have no basement and the bottom of the structure would need to be one foot above the 100 year flood plain.

Chairman Randy Dahl asked if a permit would be needed to add fill to the flood plain. Craig answered that a permit would be needed and that the amount of fill is limited as the fill cannot affect the channels of the floodway. Craig added that the structure would need to be resurveyed after completion to establish that the bottom is still one foot above the flood plain.

Commissioner Chuck Amunrud wanted to know if a septic system could be installed in a flood plain. Craig replied that generally it would not be unless there was absolutely no other place to put it, but it is now permitted by ordinance in the ten year flood plain.

Commissioner Duane Bakke insisted that the committee working on the revision of the ordinance had asked Craig numerous times as to whether permanent structures were allowed in the flood plain. He complained that now you are telling us that there is a loophole where it can be done. Bakke added that this is not a good idea. Craig suggested that because of the added expense for the engineering required that it doesn't happen often. Amunrud related information learned at Winona State University at a recent flood forum that the frequency of floods over the last ten years has increased possibly because of climate change. He added that part of the ongoing planning for hazard mitigation should be a review of the language in the current ordinance which can create problems in a flood.

Craig said that the language in the ordinance is federal or FEMA language. He said that he will check with the DNR to see if the whole flood plain could be totally restricted. Bakke responded that he thought that they already did that. Amunrud agreed that he too thought the subcommittee had already dealt with that. He added that the possibility of putting a septic system in a ten year flood plain also needs to be looked at. Craig suggested that he would like to see absolutely no building in the flood plain, but is not sure they can do that.

County Engineer John Grindeland maintained that a home built in the "flood fringe" may have difficulty in buying home owners insurance.

The board decided to send the ordinance to the Planning Commission to determine restrictions in the flood plain and to discuss amending the language in the ordinance. It should be on the agenda at the Planning Commission's May 15 meeting. Craig added that Rushford had protection against a 100 year flood, but not the 500 year flood they endured. Amunrud recommended that the mitigation plan and the ordinance for the flood plain be compatible. Dahl noted that in mitigation planning the buy out of homes and structures in the flood plain is being considered.

Craig asked for and received approval for a Condition Use Permit for Renee Haugerud for two wind turbines in Carimona Township for powering her home. Craig added that the approval was recommended by the Planning Commission.

Chief Deputy Resignation

The retirement of Chief Deputy Sheriff John O'Donnell effective May 31 was accepted with thanks. Sheriff Daryl Jensen noted that "Jack" has worked full time for Fillmore County for 29 years and has been Chief Deputy since 2005.

Jensen recommended Tom Kycek be appointed Chief Deputy as of June 1. Jensen added that he has served with the county for 33 years and was an investigator in the early 1990s. The Kycek appointment was approved. He will start with a salary of $65,000.

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