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Nationwide Insurance gets floodplain ordinance waiver

During a special meeting on Tuesday afternoon, Marlinton Town Council unanimously approved a floodplain ordinance waiver for Jim Bialek to build a new Nationwide Insurance office building on Main Street in Marlinton. After clarifying Federal Emergency Management Agency rules, council determined that the waiver would not violate National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) rules.

Council received a written assurance from NFIP Coordinator Kevin Snead that council may approve construction above the base flood elevation without a NFIP violation. Therefore, potential negative consequences, such as flood insurance rate increases and cancellations, attach only if a municipality approves construction below the base flood elevation.

The council took no action on Bialek’s waiver request during its April 1 meeting because Mayor Joe Smith told council that any construction less than two feet above base flood elevation would be a violation. During the special meeting on Tuesday, Smith said that was the result of a misunderstanding.

“It was a misunderstanding between myself and Mr. Carte, who is the Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division for the State of West Virginia, which is FEMA,” he said.

The clarification is good news for Marlinton, which is seeking builders in the downtown area. Bialek told council he would proceed with construction if granted the waiver, but not without. Under the rules, as clarified, Bialek will be required to build the first floor of his building at least 40 inches above ground level. Forty inches above ground level is the base flood elevation at the proposed building site, next to The Pocahontas Times. Without the waiver, Bialek would have been forced to build a minimum of 64 inches above ground level, which he said was impractical.

Council voted 5-0 to approve a waiver for Bialek to build at least one-tenth of a foot above the base flood elevation.

 Urban deer hunt planning scrapped

Councilmember Norris Long, who chairs an urban deer hunt committee, said the reason for a proposed archery-only deer hunt in the town is to reduce the town’s nuisance deer population. Long said he had received many complaints from town residents about deer damage. Long said the next step in the planning process would be to hold a public meeting to inform the public about the proposed hunt and incorporate public feedback into the plan.

Recorder Robin Mutscheller and Councilmember Sue Helton expressed strong concerns about the safety risks of hunting inside town limits. Smith called for a vote on whether to continue planning for the urban hunt. Continued planning was voted down by a 4-3 margin. Smith, Long and Councilmember Loretta Malcomb voted in support of continued urban hunt planning.

 Levy remains unchanged

Council approved a levy of 12.5 cents per $100 for fiscal year 2014, a rate that remains unchanged from last year. The total amount of revenue to be raised from the levy is $140,064.

In other business, council:

– Took no action on a Health and Sanitation ordinance. Council will reconsider the issue when it has more information on liens that can be imposed for unpaid property clean-up bills.

– Took no action on a new desktop computer for the town water plant.

The next regular Marlinton Council meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 5 at 7 p.m.


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