Flood plain map wrong?Riverside council approves second reading despite questions
RIVERSIDE – The Riverside City Council passed the second reading of an amendment to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood plain map Monday. However, some councilors wondered if the map was wrong. Councilor Bob Schneider said the map before the council appeared to show a flood plain that was too vast, encompassing homes that were not even flooded during the 2008 deluge.
The council must approve the FEMA flood plain map in order for people in the city to purchase flood insurance. At the same time, some of the councilors are afraid that passing the ordinance could require property owners in the map’s flood plain to purchase flood insurance they do not need. It would also require property owners in the flood plain to follow FEMA guidelines if they improve their property more than 50 percent of its value.
Schneider said he looked at the flood plain and said it included properties where he has never seen water during any flood. In an interview Tuesday morning, Schneider said he is not against adopting a FEMA map. He is merely doubtful that the FEMA map before the council accurately reflects the flood plain in Riverside.
Schneider was the only councilor to vote against the second reading of the ordinance, which passed 4-1.
Mayor Bill Poch said that flood insurance is not cheap. He said he spent $7,000 on flood insurance for his home.
The council agreed that since the flood plain map could affect property owners’ decision about whether to develop or not, it should contact those property owners in the flood plain before the third and final reading at the council’s next meeting Jan. 7.
City Administrator Rusty Rogerson said he will try to get in contact with Jason Conn of the DNR office in Des Moines. He will try to have Conn available for a phone call for the city’s next meeting. However, Rogerson also stressed that neither Conn nor the DNR produced the flood plain map and that it was handed down to the DNR from FEMA.
In other news, the council considered but did not pass a motion about land for a sign on the west end of town. Councilor Kevin Kiene made a motion to enter into a 20-year lease with Wilbur Mast, who owns land west of Riverside. The city would pay Mast $300 a year and would be responsible for maintenance.
Kiene withdrew his motion after hearing from councilor Ralph Schnoebelen, who said another man, Dick Yeggy, will sell the ground to the city.
Jim Leyden of the Riverside Visioning Committee said he attempted to contact the property owners west of town and could not find anybody who was willing to sell their land. He said he attempted to call Yeggy in particular but always got a busy signal. Members of the crowd told Leyden that Yeggy did not have a home phone.
The council agreed to wait until the next meeting to decide what to do about the land. Councilor Christine Kirkwood said she was upset Schnoebelen didn’t inform the council of Yeggy’s offer before the meeting. Schnoebelen said he would have had he remembered to do it.
The council agreed to terminate services with an insurance provider, Insurance Associates and Advantage Administration. In its place the council accepted Fisher Insurance Agency as the administrator of the city’s insurance plan.
Rogerson recommended the city switch insurance firms because he did not believe Insurance Associates was properly handling the city’s insurance deductions from the employee payroll checks. He said he notified the company it was not performing the deductions properly and it did nothing about it. One of the mistakes the firm was committing was that it did not allow either Rogerson or City Clerk Lory Young to have short-term disability insurance.
Kirkwood voted against terminating services with Insurance Associates. She said the decision was being made too hastily. Schneider said the council had no other choice since it only recently became aware of the company’s errors and that it was best to change firms before the start of the year, which left the council with little time to act.