Shady Cove council directs legal action for non-compliant floodplain homeowners

At the June 5 meeting, the Shady Cove City Council took the bull by the horns when council directed the city administrator to begin legal action as the next step to improve the city’s standing with FEMA. Some non-compliant homeowners in the floodplain may end up in circuit court. On a roll, council also agreed to join the fight against the Liquefied Natural Gas Pipeline. And a resignation from Planning Commissioner Tom Borgen was a surprise after his recent 4-year reappointment.


Council had an update on the status of the city’s probation with FEMA
from Becca Croft, representing Public Works Management. The city is at
a point where legal steps are the next course of action to prove the
city is making progress in correcting violations in the floodplain.
   
The
city must insist on full compliance from homeowners, Croft said.
Properties with the highest risks to health and safety will be first on
the list of impending legal action. High risk includes living spaces in
basements and lack of vents.
   
A formal request will be made
to FEMA by October to be removed from probation. It is possible
probation may be extended for one more year. Croft said the only
penalty, in that case, is the $50 surcharge homeowners pay on their
insurance policies.
   
Croft informed council that a "1316"
on a property denies flood insurance to a non-compliant property owner
and could cost the homeowner the loss of a mortgage. A "1316" also
renders the property un-sellable while penalties continue to accrue.
But the property must still comply with regulations and the "1316" may
be then removed. "It is not a get out of jail card," said Croft.
   
River
navigability and FEMA overlap. Any change in water course needs to be
reported to FEMA within six months. New digital elevation maps of the
flood plain are in the works. Failure to adopt the latest map excludes
a city from the NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program), according to
Croft.
   
An open house later this summer will be an
educational outreach. Local stakeholders such as Realtors and builders
will be invited along with the public. The date is not yet scheduled.
   
Medford
Attorney, David Lohman, on behalf of the "Upper Rogue Community Against
Liquefied Gas Project" made a presentation on why the 230-mile long
proposed pipeline would have a negative impact on the Upper Rogue. The
pipeline with 1,440 pounds of pressure per sq. inch, would transport 1
billion cubic feet of gas per day. Lohman said the risks and rewards
are out of balance.
   
The Shady Cove metering station will
be in close proximity to the Trail Market that has gas pumps. At that
point, Avista Utilities would connect with the pipeline. There is the
risk of explosion, said Lohman.
   
The pipeline would cross
five rivers and some fish inhabited streams, with the Rogue crossed
twice. Crossing rivers impacts fish. With horizontal drilling under the
river, the risk of "fraq-outs" causing leakage of Benzonite Clay, wears
down fish gills and weakens their eyesight.
   
The width of
Old Ferry Road would be greatly increased, said Lohman. There are also
other impacts to the land such as severely compacted soil. In some
cases, wells have been lost along with a change in terrain that can
cause drainage problems. Property values would plummet.
   
A
compressor station in Butte Falls, on a seven-acre site, would
re-pressurize gas with a 21,000 horsepower motor that is loud.
Residents in Trail also face noise when the river is drilled 24/7 for
weeks or months, said Lohman.
   
Although proponents say gas
is a clean fuel and would meet the energy requirement on the West Coast
and in Oregon, Lohman said that after processing, liquefied natural gas
is almost as dirty as coal. The Rogue Valley already has two pipelines
and neither is close to capacity. Pacific Pipeline admits 90 percent of
the gas is for California. Other countries such as China and Japan have
such a need for gas, they will "bid up the price."
   
1,800
jobs and $2 million in taxes are promised. Lohman questioned how much
of the tax money would be used for increased emergency services and
more. The number of permanent jobs would be about 60 with most in Coos
Bay at the LNG terminal.
   
Councilor Gary Hughes, who
already declared his opposition to the pipeline, proposed a resolution
against the pipeline that will be sent to the governor and other
officials. The council agreed to oppose the pipeline, although Mayor
Ruth Keith said she had some reservations.
   
Several
resolutions were passed by council. One authorizing a supplemental
budget to transfer funds for the replacement of a generator used by
public works was questioned by Resident Bud Rees. Rees questioned the
legalities of the transfer.
   
A survey will be sent to
schools to see the level of interest for a proposed skateboard park
that the city has allocated $75,000 toward in its budget.. And there
may soon be a bike path in front of the school that would connect with
Cleveland.
   
The police department will have a total of five
reserve officers after the graduation of two more officers from the
reserve academy on June 6. On behalf of the department, Officer Waldon
also thanked Reserve Officer Candice Waldon on her many hours of work
planning the recent Bicycle Safety Seminar.
   
The next city
council study session and regular meeting are June 19, 1:30 p.m. and
6:30 p.m. respectively. A public hearing at the evening session of the
19th will consider adoption of the 08-09 budget. The next planning
commission meeting is July 10 at 6:30 p.m. All meetings are at city
hall, 22541 Highway 62.
By Margaret Bradburn
Of the Independent
 

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