On Monday, supervisors in Pine Township approved a request for a developer to fund an engineering study that he believes will take his development out of FEMA’s flood zone.
Larry Warner of Warner Homes in Mercer submitted $29,400 to pay for the study through Gannett Fleming in Coolspring Township, which is the township’s engineer.
Portions of his Wolf Creek Ridge development are in the floodplain, said Dan Goncz, Gannett engineer on the project. The development has three homes – but room for more. It’s located along Route 173 across from Grove City Medical Center.
All residents along Wolf Creek’s floodplain have felt for years that paying for FEMA’s pricey flood insurance is no longer justified – or cost could be reduced – since the removal of two dams in Pine and Grove City.
The Route 208 dam was in Pine, near the township building; the East Main Street dam was in the borough at Cunningham Mill Park. Wolf Creek has significantly receded since they were removed, and there has been little flooding.
Through Gannett, the borough has tried to work with FEMA about removing the dams from the agency’s floodplain maps from the 1970s; FEMA says an engineering study must first be conducted that it won’t fund.
FEMA says it does allow the municipalities to pay for their own engineering study to prove that areas along Wolf Creek are no longer affected by flooding since dams were taken out.
Two years ago, the borough paid to have Gannett do a cursory study with aerial photographs and a computer program to see what the floodplain level might be today without the dams.
It determined that the official engineering study would be worth the money, but neither Grove City or Pine felt it fair to use taxpayer dollars to fund it for a few citizens.
The borough’s Pine Street citizens discussed whether they wanted to put forth the money; however, the initiative went stale – not everyone wanted to chip in.
In a letter to Pine, Gannett was happy to recommend Warner’s proposal to fund the engineering study. The company would then submit its findings to FEMA in an application for a change to the floodplain map, which would cost an extra fee of about $7,000.
The letter noted that the maps for Pine could not be altered separately from Grove City’s needs. “The two dams complement each other and the (map change) cannot be obtained for just one of the two dams,” it said. Goncz added that will help the residents on Pine.
“We wish we never had to go through this, but got it right the first time,” Pine supervisor Chair George Elliott said Monday. “When the Army Corps of Engineers took the dams out, (the information) should have been passed to FEMA but it wasn’t.”
Published Oct. 7, 2015, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.