An estimated 50 or so people attended a Shady Cove City Council workshop Jan. 17 on the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The city contracted with Public Works Management, Inc., of Medford to assist in issues with FEMA. Joe Strahl, who founded Public Works Management after retiring in 2001as head of the county roads for 17 years, updated those present on the flood insurance issue.
He said Shady Cove passed the original flood ordinance in 1980 and updated it in 1990, providing for the health, safety and welfare of the citizens, among a number of other stipulations.
Strahl’s firm was hired in late November 2007. His presentation was from that time forward. He said FEMA mailed letters to 17 residents on Dec. 26 regarding a Feb. 29 compliance date. Strahl and a certified flood management staff member are working with residents to help through the technical issues. He said legal issues would need to have the attention of an attorney.
"Overall, the majority of the contacts have been positive. It is obvious some are resisting, especially where requirements seem unfair. We are working hard to get rationalization from FEMA," said Strahl.
City Administrator Elise Smurzynski reviewed, once again, activity on
behalf of the city and FEMA from 2001 until 2007, describing letters
and FEMA communication delays . "The city believes we have done all
FEMA asked, spending over one year on this is not a wise use of our
time," said the administrator.
When asked how close the
city was to suspension, Strahl said potentially after May 2, which came
as a surprise to most and is earlier than previously understood. "But
the goal is to show substantial compliance." He said homeowner(s)
opting out of compliance (utilizing something called a 1316) will find
it is only a short term fix, and not an easy one. The city still has
the responsibility to enforce their ordinance. He said FEMA wants the
city to enforce the ordinance, they don’t want to suspend a city.
could mean no more flood or disaster insurance, no more loans, and a
number of long term devastating effects to the city and to homeowners
Strahl concluded by saying he sensed about
half of the 17 residents would probably be in compliance. He pointed to
a case where a resident has a building permit from a number of years
ago and now he learns he is out of compliance. Strahl said this is an
example of some of the tougher issues they are trying to work through
with residents and FEMA.
The group was told there would be additional meetings as information warranted.
regular council meeting found the council in a tie vote over the
Southern Oregon Historical Society’s proposed Historical Heritage
District, which is being considered to fund the county’s various
historical societies. According to Smurzynski, the tie vote means no
action. Mayor Ruth Keith said former mayor Tom Anderson was in the
audience and he said a 2-2 vote was a vote to defeat, i.e. it was a no
vote. Jim Collier, with the Upper Rogue Historical Society, said the
tie vote means there is no decision, that it is in limbo and needs to
be resolved. Councilor Lois Holland was absent with a badly broken arm
waiting additional medical attention.
Mayor Ruth Keith
said she voted no because it was her understanding that if it came to a
vote and the rest of the county voted yes, Shady Cove residents would
be obligated to pay also and they were already paying for enhanced
safety. If that information was wrong, she said she certainly would
want to call for another vote. The proposed tax would be seven cents
per $1,000 of assessed value.
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent