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County Revises Flood Ordinance

By David Howell
Editor

WATER VALLEY – A contentious county-wide developer’s permit fee set by supervisors was revised  following a 4-0 vote during a recessed meeting held Dec. 14.

    The fee was set in November as part of the county’s new flood ordinance and was intended to help county officials track work on any new home, mobile home, garage outbuilding, commercial building or home addition proposed in the county.  

    With the vote last Tuesday, the fee will only be assessed for projects that are located in the flood plain. The developer’s permit is still required country-wide, but the $25 fee will not be assessed for projects outside the flood plain.

    In a second vote at the same meeting, supervisors also amended an order requiring all utility companies to have a copy of the developer’s permit. This vote follows an earlier board order, passed Nov. 22, requiring utility companies to have proof that the county has issued a developer’s permit before connecting services. This order was also part of the flood ordinance.

    Supervisors voted 4 – 0 to change this utility order, releasing the county’s rural water associations from this requirement. Instead, supervisors will require Tallahatchie Valley Electric Power Association to help enforce this order.

 District 3 Supervisor M.H. “Butch” Surrette was not at the meeting.

    “We had already discussed revisiting this ordinance to make sure we got it right,” District 1 Supervisor Tommy Vaughn said as the discussion got underway on Dec. 14.

    “I still have reservations about the amount that we are asking the public to do,” Vaughn added. “I personally don’t like the $25 fee on people who are outside the flood zone.”

    “How are you going to determine that?” Board Attorney John Crow asked.

    “It is their responsibility to go get a permit. If they happen to fall in the flood zone, they pay the $25,” Vaughn answered.

    “I think the general objection is, regardless of what you build, you have to go fill out an application,” Crow responded.

    “People got to understand. It’s an inconvenience to go do that (get a permit). I live on a hill – this didn’t apply to me and never will. But I am willing to go take this little bit of an inconvenience to go down there and get my permit to do a little work on my house to take care of my neighbors down the road that absolutely need flood insurance,” Vaughn said.

    “So the initial determination of whether you are in or out (of the flood zone) determines whether you pay the $25?” Crow asked.

    “That’s right. And 95 percent of the people who go down there will not have to pay anything,” Vaughn said.

    “Who is going to make that determination?” Crow asked.

    “Billy (Humphreys). They will go to the 911 office and get the permit,” Vaughn answered. Hum-phreys was hired earlier this year as the county’s part-time flood plain coordinator.

    Vaughn then addressed the second issue, the utility order set by supervisors requiring utility companies to help enforce the ordinance. This issue follows a visit from Jeff Davis Water Association officials, who questioned the requirement at a Dec. 6 meeting.

    “There was one other thing brought last week by Mr. (Buster) Jackson, who is head of one of the water districts about not cutting the water on until they get a permit. We put it in our ordinance that we require them not to cut the water on. There again we are telling them something we probably don’t need to,” Vaughn said.

    Supervisors then voted to amend the utility order, releasing the water associations from the requirement. The revised utility order will only require TVEPA to have a copy of the developer’s permit before providing services.

    “On these so-called permits for doing construction work on your property that is not in the flood zone.  The county is not going to tell you one thing. You can build a doghouse or anything you want to build if you are outside the flood zone. We just want that (permit) to help screen the people,” Vaughn explained.

    “We had 20 houses built in the county last year. What does that tell you, we are not going to have a lot of usage out of this,” Crow added.

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