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No Flood Permit Necessary, Landowner Tells County Officials

By David Howell

COFFEEVILLE – Flood plain issues were at the top of the agenda for Monday’s recessed meeting held in Coffeeville.
    First supervisors appointed Karl Grubb from Willis Engineering in Grenada to serve as the flood plain coordinator.
    “They do this for two or three other counties,” Board President Tommy Vaughn said about the service provided by Willis Engineering. Grubb already serves as the county engineer.
    Grubb’s appointment was for a $500 monthly salary. He replaces Billy Hum-phreys, who resigned from the position.
    Grubb immediately began earning his salary when John Potts questioned the county’s flood plain ordinance.
    “I am fixing to build a house, big,” Potts told supervisors. The problem explained by Potts, is the house site on Turkey Creek is located in the flood plain and he cannot obtain a certificate from the county for the site.
    Potts also disputed the map showing his property is in the flood plain. He told supervisors that he has been waiting on the county to provide an elevation reading for three months, a reading he said would prove his property’s elevation is higher than the flood plain.
    “It’s the landowner’s responsibility to get that elevation reading,” Vaughn explained.
    “Not according to Jackson,” Potts countered.
    Grubb backed Vaughn, explaining it was the landowner’s responsibility to get the elevation.
    “You have to provide the county an elevation certificate at your expense. Once you get that to us, we can issue you a permit,” Grubb explained, if the elevation is higher than the flood plain.
    “Well let me ask you this, there ain’t no way it could be in the flood plain, but they are showing it,” Potts said. “My momma has been there 67 years,” he added.
    “Yalobusha County did not generate these maps. These are federally generated maps and we have to abide by them. That’s the law,” Grubb explained.
    “Well I am going to build a house, y’all can do whatever you want to do,” Potts said.
    “I understand, but according to the ordinance if you don’t go through the proper process you will be in violation and there are penalties,” Grubb said.
    “I ain’t paying no penalty,” Potts continued.
    “Well, there is more than penalties, there is possible jail time,” Grubb told him.
    “I have been waiting for two years to build a house and I am fixing to build it,” Potts said.
    “Keep in mind, Mr. Potts, that electricity cannot be run to the house,” Vaughn also said.
    “I ain’t worried about the electricity. That line comes across me. They can move the line off me,” Potts said about the electricity line already on his property. “Daddy gave me the property to build the house on,” said Potts.
    Vaughn then explained the purpose of the county’s flood ordinance.
    “I know this sounds like someone is trying to punish you. But this whole ordinance was designed the help the people of the county. If we have people who refuse to abide by it, it puts the whole county in jeopardy of receiving any type of funds in a catastrophe,” Vaughn said before Potts interrupted.
    “Let me tell you something. In 2000 when we got blowed away, it came straight out of Washington, D.C. We could not get a bit of help because the supervisors did not do what they were supposed to do,” Potts said. The incident was clarified later in the meeting as a tornado.
    “What were we supposed to do?” Vaughn asked.
    “Do the FEMA work,” Potts answered
    “We weren’t in the flood plain in 2000, Vaughn said,  ironically driving home the importance of the current participation in the flood plain requirements necessary for Yalobushians to receive federal aid following a natural disaster.
    “I am fixing to do the dirt work, y’all can come look and do whatever you want to,” Potts said.
    “Just don’t get in a bind, it will cost you some money and possibly some jail time,” Vaughn stressed.
    “Ain’t going to cost me a nickel,” Potts said.
    “We’ll see,” Vaughn answered.
    “Well, I will see,” Potts said as he exited the meeting.

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