Police Jury extends river levee building moratorium

1473

A moratorium on issuing building permits for any new development on the river side of a levee in Bossier Parish has been extended.

Parish police jury members voted last week to extend the moratorium another 90 days while parish officials continue efforts to clarify with federal agencies the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) along the Red River.

June’s major flood event showed elevations, which had been established by the Corps of Engineers in 1990, were inaccurate.

Police Jury members voted in June to withhold building permits for new construction in areas that flooded. The moratorium does not include repair to homes damaged by flood waters.

“We have been working diligently with a myriad of agencies involved since the moratorium was issued,” parish engineer Butch Ford told jury members. “We’ve been in discussions with FEMA for two months to come to a consensus on the BFE. At this time, we are not prepared to tell what the BFE is.”

Parish attorney Patrick Jackson said the jury is looking for the best and fastest way for properties impacted by the moratorium to be returned to a marketable condition. But, he reminded jury members that the public body has to be aware of liabilities.

“We know the BFE that exists is inaccurate and we know it will take three to five years (to establish a new BFE) if we wait for the agencies to go through the process of studying the river. But if we knowingly allow someone to build in an area we know will flood, we are liable for damages,” he said.

Jackson said the next best option is to ask FEMA and the Corps to use the high water mark of this year’s flood, plus one foot, as the best available information to set the BFE.

“A temporary BFE would be a good way to get property back into commerce,” he said. “We’ve been working diligently but we have not been able to get anything in a form we feel confident in presenting to this body.”

Ford said the parish has presented a formal request to FEMA to set the temporary BFE at the high water mark plus one foot.

“Protocol is (FEMA) give us a model ordinance, we put it in our format and send it back. We’ve already done that, but we have yet to hear from them,” he told jury members. “We’re asking for 90 days on the moratorium but if we get word from FEMA sooner we will come back to you.”
In other business, police jury members:

-Approved plats for proposed developments at Belmere subdivision unit 2, at St. Charles Court Village subdivision unit 5 and at the Bluffs at Olde Oaks.

-Closed a property condemnation case after the owner made recommended improvements.

-Appointed Martin Bourgeois to the Bossier City-Parish MPC Zoning Board.

-Approved an amendment to the contract with Beast Engineering, LLC on various police jury projects.

-Approved the donation of a utility trailer to consolidated waterworks/sewer district 1.

-Upheld the findings of the parish Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit.

-Approved a cooperative endeavor agreement with North Caddo Hospital Service District.

-Approved a change order on the Kingston Rd. widening project.

-Adopted resolutions certifying local matching funds are available and pledged to equipment at South Bossier Park and the Lawson Bo Brandon Sports Complex.

-Approved a plan change on the consolidated waterworks/sewerage district of the wastewater treatment facility.