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Flood plain talks continue

By Staff | May 16, 2014

The Corporation of Shepherdstown continues to work toward re-assessment of its current ‘Flood Plain,’ designation.

At a meeting last Friday, members of the Food Plain committee spoke with a representative from GRW, the consultant hired to help with the Flood Plain project.

The town sought the expertise of GRW Engineers after unsuccessful attempts were made to utilize the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in reassessing the towns current flood zone.

FEMA maps indicate the area- which begins near the library and runs east along the Town Run – is a flood plain, according to flood plain project manager and part-time zoning officer Harvey Heyser.

Heyser said that though the town has anecdotal evidence to support the belief that flooding occurred during the 1930s, no flooding has been recorded in the historic district in recent decades.

“There have only been a couple of instances ever that we know of,” Heyser said in an interview in January.

As a result of the ‘Flood Plain,’ designation, property owners in the historic district have suffered from burdensome flood insurance rates according to Heyser.

The Flood Plain committee was formed to investigate a solution, after residents sought assistance in managing the issue from the town.

At Friday’s meeting, committee member Stuart Wallace outlined steps the town would like to take in studying the topography of affected AO zone to measure the karst factor, as required by FEMA.

The committee discussed the cost of undertaking the necessary study.

Committee member Bane Schill suggested the consultants use similar studies previously done in Leetown as part of their professional justification for reassessment, to be submitted to FEMA.

Wallace asked GRW to draft a memo to FEMA detailing the towns position. Additionally, GRW would consult the town in implantation of the study and development of methodology for the research.

Though the Corporation of Shepherdstown is not responsible for mitigating the insurance rates of individual property owners within the flood zone, Mayor Jim Auxer explained that he believes it benefits everyone to look into the issue in a collective way.

“It’s my understanding, over the years that some individuals have attempted to do this themselves, and its been overwhelming for them,” he said.

“This is their best bet… to ever get resolution,” Wallace agreed.