Monette Council hears flood plain problems

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Monette City Council heard reports on the eastern St. Francis River levee district and discussed problems in Northview Estates at the council meeting held Monday evening, Nov. 23.

Mayor Chub Qualls introduced George Johnson, coordinator of the Craighead County Flood Plain.

"Even though the St. Francis River eastern levee is in good shape and structurally sound, FEMA has temporarily decertified it," Johnson said. "The provisional accreditation is good until June 2010, according to the Corps of Engineers. It is not the fault of Drainage District #9, as they sent their reports in on time. FEMA and the Corps of Engineers did not receive them in time for some reason. The new flood plain maps will be released on Dec. 1, and they will actually be incorrect. There will be a 30-day announcement period for the information, and then we have a 90-day review period to get them corrected before they are adopted. The revision period begins Jan. 1, 2010."

New builders and buyers will be required to purchase flood insurance and a floodplain permit until the corrections can be made.

"Right now this only affects Monette, Black Oak and Caraway," Councilman Perry Wood said.

"Monette is 13 feet higher than Caraway," Johnson said. "We are all in this together. The levee in the Eastern St. Louis District has failed also, so we are not the only ones going through this."

"We still have a problem in the Northview Estates, with homeowners not being in compliance with the division covenant," Alderman Perry Wood said. "We need to decide who is responsible to enforce the covenant. Other violations have occurred at Northview and other places in town, like fences up to the pavement, rocks up close to the roads on city easements, and culverts out. We have to be concerned with drainage also. Things are getting worse."

"In Northview the city signed an agreement that we would enforce the covenant," he said. "The construction was done in two phases, but both phases are covered by the covenant. It has been misrepresented and misenforced. It will get worse."

"We are definitely going to have to address this issue," Mayor Qualls said. "Building permits have been purchased, but no follow up."

Before Johnson left the meeting he announced his candidacy for the position of Craighead County Judge. The position is currently held by Dale Haas, who has chosen not to run for re-election.

Other business matters were reviewed.

"We voted to let Bay Electric hook up the generator and aerator and let Douglas Electric put in a transfer switch," Qualls said. "This will be completed soon.

"The water tank has been sandblasted and they are letting the paint dry. They are doing a good job on it."

"Our city engineer Wayne Menley sent the project plans for the skimmer project at the sewer plant," Qualls said. "It is estimated to cost $4,000. We will wait until Menley returns to proceed with the project."

The two tornado sirens are behind the city shop. Craighead Electric will put them up soon. One will go on the electrical plant west of town and the other one quarter mile south of Highway 18, east of town.

Councilman Joyce Read reported on the Christmas lighting project.

"Fourteen hanging decorations have been refurbished," Read said. "The two soldiers have been completed and placed at BIC West Elementary. City Beautification Committee member Shawn Nance has worked tirelessly putting up lights at the intersection. We will be holding a photography fundraiser the night of the Christmas Parade (Dec. 7) to help with beautification expenses this next year."

Councilmen requested that a thank you note be sent to Revis Stewart for donating the large Christmas tree at the intersection and to Skip Layne for service to the city as a member of the Craighead County Solid Waste Authority.

Police Chief Brian Carmichael announced four new surveillance cameras had been installed in police cars.

"The cameras are mirror mounted and record images front and back," Carmichael said. "The cameras catch violators in pre-event scenes and makes it easier for us to prosecute offenders. A GPS element not only marks the speed of the vehicle but also marks the coordinants when something is thrown out of the window. This makes retrieval so much easier."

The council reviewed the 2010 budget and tabled it until the December meeting.

Alderman Bob Blankenship requested councilmen be assigned to work with different departments to help with future budget projections.

"This would allow us to sit down and talk with department heads and bring back information to the council for review," Blankenship said. "There will always be a lot of things we can't foresee the need for, like ice storms, generators, cameras, etc."

"We were fortunate we did not have to go into our reserve funds during the ice storm," Qualls said.

"I think people will be understanding of all we have overcome this year," Alderman Jamie Strickland said.

"We need to plan for the future and then stick with what we plan," Alderman Tom Carroll said.

"Perhaps after the first of the year we can set up department heads," Blankenship said.

Mayor Qualls discussed the importance of getting a correct count on the upcoming census. Three to four hundred new people are expected to be added to the city's population, due mostly in part to the annexation.

After a brief discussion the council voted to donate $500 to the BIC Robotics Program.

"There is a train wreck coming and it can be avoided," Wood said.

"People need to be told on the front end about our requirements," Qualls said. "We are looking at establishing a zoning board and building inspector guidelines. We received a copy of the ones used by the City of Lake City."

The council meeting was set for 11:30 a.m. Friday, Dec. 11, with the annual Christmas potluck dinner to follow at city hall.

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