Big Run council discusses new FEMA maps

BIG RUN — Big Run Borough Council discussed the new FEMA flood plane maps with borough solicitor Jay Lundy at Monday’s meeting.

John Niver, council member, said that the new maps were supposed to be mailed to David Rouch, emergency management coordinator/code enforcement officer, and that he was unable to get a hold of him before Monday’s meeting.

Lundy explained that the new maps should’ve been reviewed by borough council already.

“You had a 30- to 60- day window to review the large printout maps,” Lundy said. “Council had a certain amount of time to object to any factual error on the maps, such as wrong street names.Unfortunately, that window has passed.

“The thing for council to pass is the new flood ordinance, which is the proposed draft copy I provided to you in October,” he added. “That ordinance has options in it, and all of the sections are involved.”

Lundy explained that council needed to decide which options it would like. He said he would remove the ones that council found objectionable.

“Tonight, I was handed an old flood ordinance that passed in the ’90s,” Lundy said. “I can go through this entire old ordinance and attempt to make it fit with the FEMA ordinance. However, the more economical way to go is to use the new ordinance, which is what you’re required to do anyways, and it will supersede the old ordinance, which is the best way to go.”

Lundy explained that the more options council chooses, the more restrictive it will be.

“If you leave those options in there, you’re going to create even more restrictions,” Lundy noted.

Niver added that he understood that the borough will assume the responsibility to enforce those options.

Lundy said that the enforcement of those options will come from Veritas, who enforces the borough’s building code.

“When someone builds a new house in the borough, they have to hire Veritas to inspect the structure and to see if it adheres to the new building code or not,” Lundy said. “I think it’s a pretty soft date as to when they’ll go into effect. The person I talked with at FEMA told me the deadline for this ordinance to be put into effect was Nov. 1. But that person told me that it wasn’t a big deal.”

Nick Lantz, council president, asked Lundy if he could get with each council member and go over the options.

Lundy said that he would be willing to do that.

“You tell me what options you agree to, and I’ll remove the options that you don’t want,” Lundy said.

Niver asked what prompted the changes by FEMA.

Lundy explained that there has been increasingly more government oversight into everything the borough does.

“As you know, the oversight by the federal government has continued to increase,” Lundy said. “We’re a small community, and the oversight keeps getting higher and higher from what we’re told to do. That’s part of it. The other part is that the federal government received a lot of funding to redo all of the flood zones.

“They’re using new technology to re-map all of the zones,” he added. “You’re going to notice that Big Run Borough is one of the few municipalities that have some structures that are moving in and out of the flood plane zone. It is important for building and insurance purposes.”

Lantz noted that council would review the maps as soon as it received them, so it could vote on them at the next meeting.

Also at Monday’s meeting:

• Council approved Harold Brunner, the borough maintenance and cleaning person, as a regular employee after passing his probation period.

• Denise Elliott, council member, reported that she put the RV anti-freeze in the restrooms and concession stand at Veterans’ Park, and that she removed the broken board from one of the picnic tables. The board will be replaced sometime before next spring.