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Flood plan affecting some landowners

By The Mercury

Pottawatomie County commissioners discussed new FEMA flood plain maps Monday and how the revised maps are adversely impacting some area property owners.

The discussion was prompted by a recent work session with the Wamego City Commission during which several local business owners along U.S. Highway 24 learned their inclusion in the flood plain would require them to purchase federal flood insurance.

“Jim Meinhardt (owner of KanEquip at Wamego) said it was going to cost him about $72,000 a year for flood insurance,” said Commissioner Pat Weixelman.

The Wamego City Commission met recently with several business owners who expressed concern about the federal flood insurance requirement and the impact it will have on their property values.

City manager Merl Page said Monday the city of Wamego plans to arrange a public forum with a state representative to discuss the issue with property owners. County officials wondered if they should become involved in the matter.

“Is there any way to fight it or do you just roll over and die?” asked Weixelman.

Gregg Webster, county zoning administrator, said the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) began work on the revised flood plain maps in 2009. The maps were finalized late last year following a period of public review and protest, he said.

Webster said the county’s flood plain management area includes only unincorporated portions of the county, while cities are responsible for their own boundaries, as well as their extraterritorial zoning areas.

“We had some areas along Highway 24 that weren’t in the flood plain before that are now,” Webster said, adding that he has worked with a number of property owners who have been successful in having their properties removed from the newly-revised flood plain.

“You must prove you’re not in the flood plain to be taken out, and many (property owners) have been able to do that,” Webster said.

Webster said it’s possible the Wamego businesses impacted by the revised FEMA maps have been in the flood plain all along. The map’s boundaries changed as new measurement technologies became available, he said.

“The base flood elevation didn’t change, but the new (measurement) methods brought some areas into the flood plain and it took others out,” Webster said. “They were probably in the flood plain before, but with new technology, the map boundaries changed.”

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