By Conrad Dudderar
Canadian County officials are giving property owners a chance to remedy – or at least address – floodplain violations.
The Canadian County Floodplain Board, at its Aug. 7th meeting, found that three properties may not comply with the county’s floodplain regulations.
Two of the properties are in the 17000 block of Darren Ave. in El Reno. The board determined they were in violation because the owner had not provided elevation statuses of metal buildings.
The other property is in the 3600 block of S.W. 74th in Union City. This violation occurred because the owner did not obtain a permit or provide elevation status of a mobile home.
The Canadian County Floodplain Board recommended Canadian County Commissioners review these violations.
Jennifer Lloyd, Canadian County’s certified floodplain manager, attempted – but has been unable – to obtain elevation data for the structures.
“They could very well be compliant,” Lloyd said. “They are just not willing to get me the elevation of their structures to show that.”
The property owners do not have – or want – flood insurance.
County Commissioners’ review of the three violations is the “last resort” in the county’s floodplain regulations, according to Lloyd.
“Once that is done, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) can step in and do what they have available – which removes flood insurance and any kind of disaster relief from them,” she added. “We have to exhaust all our means first.”
A permit is required for any development in Canadian County’s floodplains.
“Canadian County is home to two major rivers, the North Canadian and the South Canadian, as well as multiple creeks making flooding a major concern for our citizens,” according to the Canadian County website.
Canadian County has been a member of the National Flood Insurance Program since 2000.
As a requirement, County Commissioners formed a floodplain board and appointed a certified floodplain manager to regulate development inside FEMA’s designated floodplains.
“One thing we don’t want to put in jeopardy is our eligibility for flood insurance,” Canadian County Commission Chairman Dave Anderson said.
The Union City property with the mobile home is in Anderson’s district.
“The Canadian County Floodplain Management program strives to educate the public about the importance of flood safety and encourages safer floodplain development by partnering with our citizens, neighboring communities and maintaining our permitting process,” according to the county’s website.
Canadian County Commissioners regularly review permit approvals by the floodplain board, whose members are Ray Bornemann, Mike Fink, Francis Parizek, Jimmie Smith, and Steve Renbarger.
Commissioners now must review the board’s three findings of violations before any action by FEMA.
Another option to protect Canadian County is filing a civil suit against any property owner in violation. A final option would be criminal charges.
“In this case, we want to provide the property owner with every opportunity to be heard,” Assistant District Attorney Tommy Humphries said.
The owners were contacted by certified mail but did not appear before the county’s floodplain board.
Humphries suggested that Canadian County Commissioners invite each property owner to a commissioners’ meeting to explain why they refuse to comply with floodplain requirements.
He advised “notifying them that you received a finding that they’re in violation from the floodplain board (and) setting it for a date on a Monday to appear. Then if they don’t, they’re going to be down to those final options.”
Commissioners agreed to work with Humphries and Lloyd to draft a letter that will be sent to owners of the three properties who “refuse to comply,” Chairman Anderson said.
They will be asked to appear before the commissioners “to give them an opportunity to defend their position,” he added.
ODDS ‘N ENDS
Among other business at its Aug. 14th meeting, Canadian County Commissioners approved:
- Removing a Britton Road chip seal resurfacing project from the County Improvements for Roads and Bridges five-year plan for District 1.
- A contract with Inflatable Adventures for the Canadian County Children’s Justice Center to use equipment for an end-of-summer Camp Hope event.
- A floodplain permit allowing Diana Canales to place a steel garage in the 16900 block of Andrea Lane in District 1.
Canadian County Undersheriff Kevin Ward presented the weekly county jail report showing an inmate population totaling 216, with 174 prisoners at the El Reno detention center and 42 others housed in contracted counties.
The total count is down two from last week as 47 prisoners await transfer to state Department of Corrections’ custody.