AlliedNews.com - Grove City, Pennsylvania

January 3, 2014

Some residents still up a creek

By Felicia A. Petro/Senior Reporter
Allied News

GROVE CITY — Grove City Borough will earn a steady stream of income from Verizon Wireless in the new year while Grove City area residents within a local floodplain find themselves on a financial hook.

Borough manager Vance Oakes told council members Dec. 16 that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is expecting Mercer County municipalities to create an ordinance in six months to adopt new floodplain management regulations.

Citizens living along Wolf Creek in the borough and Pine Township in the floodplain must obtain flood insurance through FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program; however, municipalities are required to adopt the agency’s new regulations for continued eligibility in the NFIP.

The residents in the floodplain would like to get rid of the flood insurance completely.

FEMA’s current floodplain maps of the neighborhood were made before two dams along Wolf Creek were removed, which had caused much of the flooding of residential properties during storms – particularly on Pine Street in the borough.

Those incidents are rare now and residents feel that paying for expensive flood insurance is unfair.

However, FEMA will not change its current floodplain map in the Wolf Creek area without a costly engineering study, which the agency will not fund.

To see if it would be worth the costs, the borough took aerial photographs and used a computer program model last fall to see what the floodplain level might be today without the dams.

The cursory study determined that a complete engineering study would be worth the money how much would it cost? to officially show the changes to the current floodplain – but the citizens would have to fund it.How many people are affected?

Citizens have met at different times to talk over funding possibilities, but have not determined to pay for the engineering study, Oakes said in a phone interview.

A Dec. 9 letter to the borough about new floodplain management regulations said FEMA officials have been working to digitize floodplain maps and want municipalities to accept the maps and regulations to manage floodplain development and for FEMA to determine insurance rates. 

“They have a state coordinator who will work (with the borough) to create a sample ordinance to meet those regulations,” Oakes told council.

“My hope is that in early 2014 we’ll have an ordinance that complies with the FEMA regulations .... so if there’s some kind of disaster, we have help from FEMA. We’ll work to get a sample ready to go for council (to approve).”

Verizon has been negotiating an agreement to put a cell phone tower on borough property along Pinchalong Road, near the water tower, Oakes said.

Verizon will lease the space for $12,000 a year for 29 years and 11 months; it can cancel every five years, he said. Every year, the rent will increase by 3 percent, which will bring extra revenue to the borough, Oakes added.

Solicitor Tim Bonner said the borough discussed with Verizon the possibility of other cell phone companies connecting antennas to its tower – and Grove City believing it should have revenue from extra connections.

Verizon reached a compromise with the borough by reducing the size of its control house on site, connected to the tower, so other cell phone providers could build there as well, the solicitor said. The control house shrunk from a proposed 75 by 100 feet to 25 by 45 feet, Oakes said after the meeting.

Council approved the lease agreement; however, Verizon hasn’t given official word about when it expects to build, Oakes said.

Published Dec. 24, 2013, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.