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Oak Creek to study floodplain

Jennie Lay

To bring Oak Creek into compliance with Federal Emergency Management Agency floodplain restrictions and protect the town’s certification for the National Flood Insurance Program, the Oak Creek Town Board approved a bid Thursday night to spend about $2,000 to have Landmark Consultants engineer a floodplain study for the Arthur Avenue neighborhood.

The company is probably the only one in the neighborhood that can get the town approved with the FEMA process, Trustee Mike Kien said after approving the expenditure.

Oak Creek will pay for a topographic and runoff study, an area model and specific recommendations for property in the area that is owned by the town of Oak Creek. Any of the other estimated 29 property owners in the Arthur Avenue floodplain area who want a list of recommendations to mitigate the effects of flood on their specific properties must pay for it individually. Looking at the bid, Mayor Kathy “Cargo” Rodeman estimated that would cost about $200 per property.

Rodeman said Oak Creek also is securing bids for two other areas of town that have similar flood zone issues so the engineering can be included in next year’s budget.

“We can’t do it for one area but not another,” Rodeman said. The Arthur Avenue study, which was not budgeted, moved so quickly because resident Brett KenCairn personally paid for a majority of the overall expense of the study to move his construction project along.

The floodplain issue came to the board’s attention at the June 24 meeting when KenCairn told the Town Board that he found out his proposed construction site, along with several other homes along Arthur Avenue, was designated as an “A” flood zone by FEMA. Anyone who wants to build in such a zone has to prove it won’t flood with a flood engineering survey and an ensuing “letter of map amendment” from FEMA.

After Oak Creek’s 1984 flood, FEMA made new flood maps of Oak Creek, and in 1989 the town was certified to join FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program. At that time Oak Creek agreed not to approve new building in the flood zones without a flood engineering survey. If FEMA finds that Oak Creek is not complying with their flood restrictions, the town could loose its certification for the National Flood Insurance Program.

Nonsubsidized flood insurance can be very expensive.

Oak Creek resident Royal Anderson, who lives on the other end of town from the Arthur Avenue area, said he tried to organize a floodplain study for his property when he bought it eight years ago, but was unable to afford it. He lives on the hill but says there is an “imaginary creek” that runs through one small corner at the bottom of his property.

Anderson and his wife, Cynthia, said they were grateful the town is moving forward with the floodplain studies.

“In eight years, it’s cost me $4,000 (in flood insurance),” Anderson said. “We pay as much as if we live along the Mississippi River.”

In other business, the Oak Creek Town Board approved the transfer of liquor license from Pisa’s, now called Black Mountain Tavern, to the restaurant’s new owner, Doug Diamand.

The board also passed a town ordinance that brings Oak Creek liquor laws in line with a new state law that makes it legal to leave a restaurant with a previously opened, but corked, bottle of wine. The new Oak Creek ordinance applies only to businesses which have restaurant licenses, and does not include the several establishments in town that have “tavern” licenses instead, Town Clerk Nancy Crawford said.

— To reach Jennie Lay call 871-4210

or e-mail jlay@steamboatpilot.com.


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