Terri Jo Bennett

Commission postpones floodplain fee decision

BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Commission has started a discussion about revising the Upshur County Floodplain Ordinance to potentially include a fee that would be charged when an individual builds in the floodplain.

Terri Joe Bennett, the county’s building permit and floodplain coordinator, said not having a floodplain fee is a missed opportunity.

Bennett is also the mapping and addressing coordinator for the county.

“We are missing out quite a bit by not charging something,” Bennett told the commission at its meeting Thursday. “We are one of seven, counties out of 55 in the state of West Virginia that has no fee being charged at all, when the overwhelming majority has a fee of some sort.

“It just seems kind of silly to me that we just keep spending more and more time and money on the floodplain management and not being able to try to recoup some of that cost.”

The current Floodplain Ordinance for Upshur County does not require a fee to build in the floodplain, but Bennett said if the commission were to add one, she would recommend a flat fee.

“It looks like most of the counties are on a scaling fee, but I don’t necessarily think that that’s the best scenario,” Bennett said. “The reason why is because I don’t require you to give me some sort of proof that the house you’re building is a $200,000 house or the garage that you’re building is a $15,000 garage; I’m literally taking their word for it, but that’s the cost that they’re going to have.

“So, I think when you try to do a scale fee that leaves a little bit more gray area, and when it’s just a flat rate fee, you will at least recoup some of the cost of the time and money.”

Bennett also said she thinks if implemented, a fee for a residential project should be different from a fee for a commercial project.

“If I’m going to build a $100,000 house, my building permit fee is $15; if I’m going to build a billion-and-a-half-dollar commercial building, that building permit is $15,” Bennett said. “I really do think that it would be my suggestion that you do have a different fee structure, whether it’s a residential type building that’s being done or commercial.”

Bennett said if the commission decides to change the ordinance, it will be a long process.

“If it is something that we’re going to move forward with, there is a lengthy process to actually get it approved,” Bennett said, “even if the only thing you’re going to change is to actually include a fee structure.”

The commission tabled the discussion for a later date.

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