Floodplain fill effect on neighbors ‘insignificant’
Whatever city leaders decide about housing developments proposed for floodplain areas, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, not the city, is responsible for changing the floodplain map and for reviewing the extensive engineering studies that are part of that process.
"I think the process will be a solid engineering process," said Eudora Planning Commission Chairman Kurt von Achen.
The Commission and City Council had Rick Treas, who is the city building inspector and Eudora's FEMA representative, and city engineer Brian Kingsley explain the process of amending floodplains during the Council meeting earlier this month before making any decisions about the Shadow Ridge property, which would require developers to fill in an undelineated floodplain.
Uncertain how approving a preliminary plat would affect FEMA's decision to amend the floodplain map -- and the city's liability -- members of the Planning Commission shied away from approving plans for 40 acres of new Shadow Ridge development south of 28th Street. For some commissioners, the loss of greenspace in the redrawn plans played a part, too.
Treas said if the city approved a preliminary plat it would be included in a submittal to FEMA and its engineering staff. Moreover, he said FEMA would look at hydrology reports and at a drainage study of what would happen to nearby properties.
The Planning Commission will revisit the clarified issue during its Feb. 4 meeting. Earlier this month, the Commission and Council discussed approving plans for a neighborhood requiring filling in a floodplain, including concerns they'd heard from neighbors who feared flooding on their own property as a result.
Kingsley said it had been determined by state standards that impact on neighboring properties would be "insignificant." Moreover, Kingsley said the type of floodplain in Shadow Ridge was dealing with backwater from a stream, not the stream itself, so filling it in wouldn't create more water flow.
Public notification was also part of the permit process, he said.
City leaders were also concerned about the city's liability if damaging floods were to occur. If property were damaged because standards were not met, Kingsley said, it would go back to the developer's engineer, and he reminded that the city would submit plans to FEMA's engineers, too.
But Council member Tom Pyle said from personal experience with Kansas Highway 10 construction, he knew what drainage and other engineering studies said would work didn't always do so. Regardless of who would be technically liable, he said the public would blame the City Council, whether it was the same composition or a whole new Council.
Even though the process could have begun either way, city leaders decided to look at the preliminary plat before seeking a letter of map change from FEMA rather than after. However, developers would need to have it documented the land wasn't in a floodplain before showing the lot breakdown, Treas said.
Landplan Engineering developer Phil Strubel said the materials needed for the fill were available on-site.
"We're in a position to see everything that needs to be done gets done," he said.