County commissioners Kristie Tenney and Terry Cutright at Thursday's weekly meeting.

Commission votes to revise county floodplain ordinance

BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Commission voted to revise the Upshur County Floodplain Ordinance at its Thursday meeting, opting to attach a percentage-based fee to building in the floodplain.

During Thursday’s meeting, the commissioners voted to begin the process of revising the Floodplain Ordinance to include a fee when a person builds in the floodplain. The fee structure the commission voted to add will take the form of a percentage system.

Here’s how it works: when a person applies to build in the floodplain, they will also submit a value for the project. The fee will total .25 percent of that value for residential projects and 1 percent for commercial projects.

County commission president Sam Nolte said there were two proposed fee structures, and the other one would have been a flat fee of $250 for residential structures and $500 for commercial projects, but the commission decided against that idea.

“If you decided to do a pavilion for $450, you wouldn’t want to pay over 50 percent cost for the fee,” Nolte said. “It’s much more reasonable to charge $1.12 even though that’s not much money, but at least you are charging something according to the value of the project rather than a flat rate.”

Nolte said the money from the fees will be funneled into the commission’s general fund revenue.

Now that the commission has voted to add the fee, a revision to the Floodplain Ordinance must take places, and a couple public readings of the ordinance.

Upshur County administrator Carrie Wallace said that process could take about six weeks.

Following the meeting, Upshur County’s building permit officer and addressing and mapping coordinator Terri Jo Bennett said the fee would help recoup the cost of processing an application for building in the floodplain.

“[It will recoup the cost of] all the work that I do for a floodplain case, from the time somebody comes in and applies for an application to the follow-up,” Bennett said. “I have to go to take pictures before the start of the project and throughout the project. I have to follow up and things of that nature, and there are the mailings that I send out. There’s just a number of things that we do as far as for floodplain management, from start to finish.”

Bennett said the fee would not recoup the entire cost of managing of the floodplain, but it would help.

“Each case is different,” Bennett said. “I can spend anywhere from eight to 10 hours on a simple case, to ones that have been ongoing for years,” Bennett said. “There’s still that same amount of follow-up and things of that nature that I have to do. That’s why I’m saying I don’t think you would ever be able to recoup your costs unless you charge … an hourly fee, which I don’t see that ever happening. So just charge a fee of some sort, like the majority of the other counties, I think would be better than not charging anything at all.”

In other county news, Joseph D. Barcus was sworn in as a deputy sheriff, effective April 28, 2019. Chief Deputy Mike Kelly said Barcus has completed all his civil service testing, noting he exceled in the written test and completed the physical test as well.
He is a certified police officer who graduated from the State Police Academy, and he is a former Buckhannon Police Department officer. He’s currently an officer with the Philippi Police Department.

Prior to adjourning, the commission also:

  • Approved a correspondence from Lori Ulderich Harvey, executive director of the Upshur County Family Resource Network, requesting permission to place a Foster Care Awareness Month display in the Courthouse Annex foyer during the month of April.
  • Approved seasonal employment for the Upshur County Youth Camp staff effective May 20, 2019.

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