By Liz Brewer
ADA — Chad J. Letellier, Pontotoc County emergency management director, appointed floodplain administrator by the board of commissioners of Pontotoc County has begun an awareness campaign targeting all persons proposing development in unincorporated areas of the county.
“Our first step toward reaching our goals is to create awareness in the county that all persons that propose development in unincorporated areas will need to file a Notice of Intent,” said Letellier. The administrator then will determine if the area is in a flood zone and if so, a development permit would be required to ensure compliance with the provisions of the regulations.”
Letellier oversees floodplain management regulations and appropriate sections of 44 CFR (National Flood Insurance Program) adopted by the Pontotoc County Board of Commissioners on Jan. 10, 2005, which are designed to minimize public and private flood losses due to flood conditions and to promote the public health, safety and general welfare. The compliance section of the general provisions states “No structure or land shall hereafter be constructed, located, extended, converted or altered, or have its use changed without full compliance with the terms of this regulation and other applicable regulations.”
“It has taken a long time to get to this point,” said Letellier. “A lot of ground work was accomplished to position the county to receive a grant for a Hazard Mitigation Program. After we adopted the county regulations which incorporates both state and federal regulations, it then had to go through the approval process of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, then through Regional FEMA, then through FEMA in Washington.” The five-member Hazard Mitigation board includes Steve Wilson, chairperson, Dana Laxton, secretary, Robert Cheadle, Victor Bolen, and one other to be named. This delegation of responsibility within the local governmental unit is authorized by the Legislature of the State of Oklahoma.
“We are not here to stand in the way of construction or development.” Laxton said. “It’s our intent, per FEMA requirements, to help residential and commercial developers in a manner that will cause the least destruction in the event of a flood and to ensure that adjoining properties are not adversely affected by development.”
“It is estimated that possibly one-half percent of the Notices of Intent we receive will go require a Developer’s Permit. Building codes differ for development in the flood zones,” Letellier said.
“We’re aggressively beginning this awareness campaign by meeting with known groups that work with construction and development, namely the Ada Board of Realtors, the banks and financial institutions, the insurance agents, residential and commercial developers, and the general public.” said Letellier. “We will have the Notice of Intent forms distributed through these groups and available at my office at city hall. We had an information meeting with the Ada Board of Realtors on April 18.”
The filing of the Notice of Intent has a $2 administration fee to offset the costs of processing and five year record retention. If it is not in a floodplain area then no further action is required by the developer. If the development is determined to be in a floodplain area then the board requires an application fee of $15 to consider the proposed development. Once the board decision is reached, which may be an approval, denial or request for additional engineering plans, then there is a $85 charge for the Developer’s Permit.
Persons who fail to comply with any of the floodplain regulations could face misdemeanor charges which may include fines of $1000 for each violation or possible imprisonment in addition to all cost and expenses involved in the case. The floodplain administrator has full police authority to enforce the regulations. “We have every intention to be consistent and fair with all processing.”
By Liz Brewer