Floodplain appeal hearing tonight in Kittery

from the Portsmouth Herald

By Deborah McDermott
May 28, 2014 2:00 AM

imagesCA5W4UZVKITTERY, Maine — A public hearing will be held tonight on a proposal to fund the $20,000 cost of appealing preliminary federal floodplain maps.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has estimated that at least 40 new properties have been added to the floodplain since the last time FEMA mapped the town.

A consultant hired to review the maps has indicated that FEMA used flawed data in determining coastal wave action on property. Assistant Town Planner Chris DiMatteo also said it looked as if FEMA “just slid over” the new maps on top of the old maps.

At a workshop on this issue last month, more than 50 residents attended. Individual appeals could cost upward of $10,000 each, but consultant Robert Gerber of Ransom Consulting told the town he would mount an appeal of the entire town for $20,000.

The town since April has reached out to affected property owners, asking them to chip in toward the cost of an appeal. According to Town Manager Nancy Colbert Puff, the town has received total pledges of $6,150.

The Town Council is being asked to transfer the $20,000 from unassigned surplus. A vote on the issue will likely occur at a later date, following the public hearing tonight.

At least one councilor is not likely to vote in favor of the transfer. Councilor Frank Dennett said in April that the affected properties comprise 1.5 percent of all the properties in town. “Why should the town pay?”

FEMA has still not set a date for the beginning of the appeals period for the preliminary maps. Kittery recently hosted a meeting of a number of town officials from York and Cumberland counties, who are considering fighting the maps as a group.

In other business

The Town Council is also expected to get an update on the Sewer Department infrastructure project. In June 2013, voters agreed to spend $4.4 million to fund work at the treatment plant, at 10 different pump stations and to two different sewer lines.

According to documentation provided in the council packet, the April 2014 construction cost is $4.2 million, without emergency or contingency funding.

According to Colbert Puff, the project has gone out to bid already, with the bid opening on June 18. Work would likely begin within several months after that.

The council is meeting tonight instead of its regular Monday night due to the Memorial Day holiday. A workshop will be held at 6 p.m. with the Capital Improvement Program Committee, and the regular meeting begins at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.