Delano floodplain map to change

DELANO, MN – After 30 years, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is updating Delano’s floodplain map.

“We are at the point now where they have given us a published, revised map, and it has a larger area of 100-year floodplain than we had before,” City Administrator Phil Kern said. “ . . . Some properties not designated as floodplain will be. Some that have been in the floodplain will not be anymore.”

City staff and officials first became aware of the situation in July, and discussed the matter Tuesday.

The city has the option to request a 90-day review period, and is doing so, Kern said.

“The council wanted to make sure we got the word out,” he said. “On an individual property basis, if they are impacted, they can work to get their property removed (from the floodplain) if they can prove they’re at an elevation above the floodplain. There will be more coming, but we are starting the process here.”

Individual property owners have successfully appealed floodplain designations using the Letter of Map Amendment process.

“It’s not overly difficult if you can prove the property elevation around the primary structure is above what they designate as the 100-year floodplain elevation,” Kern said.

He noted that several factors go into establishing the floodplain, including developments, farm field tiling, rainfall data, and elevation.

In some cases already reviewed by city staff, the floodplain elevations are changing by as much as 1 foot, as is the case with Central Park, which was already in the floodplain.

From the city’s standpoint, one complication to the process is the uncertified levy system the community built over the past 50 years.

“Largely because of the cost, we don’t have a certified levy built,” Kern said. “The FEMA floodplain map essentially, therefore, establishes flood elevations ignoring our levy.”

The city can work through a Levy Analysis and Mapping Procedures process in order to get credit for the levy.

“There’s a chance that, for properties on the city side, elevation could be dropped if FEMA and the DNR would say the levy is sufficient,” Kern said.

–“ . . . The challenge to that is we don’t know.

Without doing soil borings, we can’t concretely prove the levy built in 1969 was built to acceptable 2018 standards.”

With that in mind, the council directed City Engineer Shawn Louwagie to put together the scope of work for that process to be presented at a future council meeting.

Odds and ends

In other business, the council:

• reapproved the McKinley Avenue improvements, as the council had initially approved the project on a 3-0 vote, but a four-fifths majority is required for such projects.

• discussed a Youth in Government program that would add a youth liaison or two to the city council. The liaison(s) would be able to sit in on commission and council meetings and share opinions at the discretion of the mayor and commission chairs.

•  discussed potential administrative changes to shift zoning and code enforcement duties from the city’s building official to another employee, due to the large amount of work related to increased construction in the community.

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