Government, News

Star City may lose coverage if officials do no address outdated floodplain rule

STAR CITY — Star City must update its current floodplain ordinance to be in compliance with new FEMA regulations or risking losing federal coverage, said Kevin Sneed, West Virginia Department of Homeland Security floodplain coordinator.

Sneed brought the matter of an outdated floodplain ordinance to the attention of council members and city supervisors at this week’s Star City council meeting.

“Star City and every other incorporated municipality in the state of West Virginia is a part of the national flood insurance program,” he said. “Star City originally joined the national flood insurance program in 1978 and has been a member since then.

“The reason you joined is so that all your citizens have access to FEMA flood insurance, basically, and also FEMA and federal disaster assistance money and grant funding and so forth.”
Sneed said he understands the town only has a small area in a floodplain, but nine residents do have flood insurance worth close to $3 million, and without an updated town ordinance, they will not be able to keep their insurance. Also, any homes sold in a floodplain area would not be able to get flood insurance necessary to get financing.

“Your last ordinance is pretty old,” he said. “It’s outdated, and it is not compliant with FEMA’s rules today.”
Sneed said he sent a current state model ordinance to city code enforcement official Lanie Martisko with updated language for the council and city attorney Paul Cranston to review.

Cranston asked if the city could adopt the current state model to replace the existing town ordinance without writing a new one or making a lot of changes, and Sneed agreed.

Sneed said the ordinance needed to be adopted as soon as possible because at midnight April 5, the city will be out of the program. He said letters at six months, three months and one month were sent to the town to warn it about removal from the program.

Martisko said she received the one month letter in March, and she spoke with Cranston and Sneed to determine what the town needed to do to be in compliance.

Cranston asked Sneed if those with a current flood insurance policy would get letters from their insurance companies about their coverage.

Sneed said because owners pay a year at a time, depending on their renewal period, if the ordinance is passed rapidly, there should be no lapse in owner coverage.

“As soon as you adopt the ordinance and send it to me, I’ll review it and send it to FEMA, and they will get you back in the program” he said.

Sneed said the Star City also needed to appoint a floodplain manager with six hours of yearly training to be able to handle disaster relief and floodplain issues. He recommended someone in a town position take over the job duties.
Martisko said she would handle it, and will be attending training soon for her required six hours.

Cranston said the the would not need to hold a public hearing on the ordinance because it did not deal with revenue, but the ordinance will be put on the council’s agenda for the next meeting, at 7 p.m. April 9. The second reading of the ordinance should take place at the April 23 meeting, barring questions or complications.