Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

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July 7, 2014

Flood plain rule waived to welcome business — A city’s code of ordinances is typically used to make sure those operating in said community follow a common set of rules beneficial to all.

However, that does not mean they are without exceptions as was the case for a new business looking to stake a claim in Pauls Valley. Seeking city council approval at the most recent meeting for a variance to the city’s flood plain ordinance, individuals representing the AutoZone retail chain came before the governing body already with the blessing of planning and zoning. According to Assistant City Manager Don Wageman they had already purchased land recently to build the store on.

The request was finding a common ground between the flood plain rules in place by the city and those at the federal/state level.

“They were going to build it up to base flood elevation as required by state and federal law, but the city ordinance requires two more feet,” said Wageman, who noted how no members of planning and zoning had a problem with the request. “They requested a variance. We did our homework and studied and a variance could be allowed with city council approval.”

The project has been a couple years in the works and Wageman noted how the interested party viewed other locations and they felt this offered them the best traffic. He said the biggest problem was getting a spot in the flood zone and finding a parcel big enough for their needs.

It will be close to O’ Reily Auto Parts, a similar type of business, in size and will be located at 721 West Grant in what is a couple of lots across from Leonard’s Super Stop. As council members unanimously approved the request all the owners need to do is obtain the building permits.

Wageman said the site plan is OK except for a little more information needed, and that as a part of the plan they have to bring in dirt and put in a whole new drainage system. His prediction is that it will be soon when the store is constructed and opened.

In the end, City Manager James Frizell noted how it will not impact the insurance rate of the company coming in or that of the city to waive the requirement. Though Wageman and Frizell agreed that raising foundations above the floodplain higher has its benefits for an area like this where water tends to collect in a valley, there are some drawbacks as well. The biggest potential issue is as dirt work raises things up it can make it harder to manage water and can cause problems for the rest of the neighborhood. Frizell said this instance is a reason they need to at least revisit it on a more permanent basis in the future.

“The bottom line is FEMA requires at or above base flood elevation…we have a two foot BFE in our ordinance,” said Frizell. “We need to figure that out; change that or not, because two feet is really up there.”

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