Officials discuss on floodplain issues

by karla pomeroy

Big Horn County met with Federal Emergency Management Agency and Office of Homeland Security personnel Wednesday.

Prior to the meeting Land Planner Joy Hill said the purpose of the meeting is to clarify FEMA, state and local community roles in floodplain management under the National Flood Plain Insurance Program; to discuss community and property owner liability for floodplain development activities, including emergency measures and flood protection structures; discuss proposed regulation changes and answer questions concerning the NFIP and implementation of totally adopted floodplain management regulations.

Those who were expected to attend include representatives from OHS, FEMA, Big Horn County, Karen McCreery from Sen. Mike Enzi’s office and local legislators Sen. Gerald Geis and Rep. Mike Greear.

The meeting included site visits to areas that have had issues – Wyo-Ben, Mi-SWACO and the Whaley cabin on Beaver Creek Road.

Work to protect the Whaley cabin from flooding this spring was seen on a video on Facebook.

Mi-SWACO is where a landowner has expressed concern about a flood protection berm that was diverting water to their property.

In regard to Wyo-Ben, Hill had reported during the July 1 meeting that Wyo-Ben came to land planning over a year ago with a septic permit and at that time it was not in the floodplain and no development was planned. Today, they are planning some development and about 20 percent of the planned structure is in the floodplain.

“We don’t feel it is worth their time and effort to get a flood elevation certification,” She recommended moving forward to grant the permit.

She added that she spoke to FEMA about moving the area out of the floodplain since nothing changed in the landscape when it wasn’t in the floodplain and now it is. She was informed Wyo-Ben would have to do an elevation survey and go through the formal process to amend the floodplain map.

“This is a business impacted by erroneous floodplain designation,” Hill said.

(Due to press deadline, a report on the meeting from Wednesday will be published next week.)

In other land planning business:

The commissioners approved two simple subdivisions.

The commissioners in the July 1 meeting agreed to allow land planning to provide a letter to Bureau Vista stating they impose no limitations on proposed development of a cell tower. She said Bureau Vista on behalf of Verizon Wireless requested the letter as they are working on adding some antenna equipment to an existing tower outside Burlington.

Hill said, “Due to a lack of building codes and zoning, we do not really have any limitations to impose on this proposed development. Additionally their study had identified that the antennae will be attached to an existing tower and the proposed collocation will not result in any significant alterations to the existing setting or feeling of this historic resource (it is visible from an historic property).”

Hill said the Wyoming State Historical Preservation Office was requiring the letter.