Moorefield South Levee Certification Moves Forward, North Levee Needs Work

The Moorefield Town Council covered a wide range of topics at their meeting on March 3.

Moorefield’s South Levee certification draft looks good, and is ready for FEMA, said Public Works director Lucas Gagnon.

The South Levee protects Moorefield south — towards Petersburg — of the bridge in town over the South Fork river. The levee crosses the railroad on Rohrbaugh Lane on one side, and extends nearly to Brighton Park and the South Branch river on the other.

In 1985, the South Branch had a 400-year flood event, and the South Fork had a 1000-year event.

The 1985 flood would not “overtop,” or spill over the top, of the South Levee.

The North Levee requires more work before FEMA can approve it.

From Weimer Automotive dealership to the end of the Levee, it is not high enough, and there are four options.

First, the Town could do nothing, leave the levee as it is, and property owners in the flood plain behind it, including most of Moorefield, may have issues with flood insurance, or be required by banks to hold specific amounts or types of insurance.

Second, the levee’s height can be raised with earth, from six inches to two feet. This will cost between $500,000 and $600,000.

Third, the Town could use an I-wall, which involves burying most of a barrier wall in the levee, at a cost of $1.5 million.

Fourth, the Town could choose to use a T-wall barrier, which will cost about $1.6 million. 

Both the third and fourth options leave only two to three feet of concrete above the levee, with the rest imbedded in the levee as reinforcement.

Gagnon told the Council that no action is required at this time, but will be soon. FEMA requires, “adequate progress,” he said, which the Town is more than accomplishing.

City Clerk Rick Freeman contacted multiple similarly-sized cities across West Virginia to determine how they are handling requirements for Building Inspectors and Zoning Officers.

Most inspectors are part of the Public Works departments, and average around $16 per hour.

No community reported their inspectors had all 11 state-required certifications.

Hampshire County contracts out their building inspections to Middle Department Inspection Agency, from Winchester. Property owners pay the contractor’s fees, rather than being paid by the county.

Freeman said the risk is that costs would increase somewhat for those building or improving their properties.

Council member Carol Zuber asked what the Zoning Officer’s job entails. Freeman replied the officer would be responsible for code updates as well as knowing the code inside and out. 

Being well-versed in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and able to update the website, as well as grant-writing and possibly even code enforcement would also be valid responsibilities.

Freeman suggested, “outsourcing one,” the Building Inspector, and hiring the Zoning Officer.

Details such as payment and supervisory responsibility still need clarification.

“I need to know what direction you want me to go,” Freeman said, noting further that budgets are due and he needs to know how to best allocate funds.

“I think we need to look at contracting,” said Mayor Gary Stalnaker, referring to the Building Inspector position.

Freeman said he’d contact Hampshire County again for more details.

Council member Scott Fawley expressed concern that higher construction costs due to paying the inspectors’ fees could stifle construction.

Freeman said different communities handle it different ways, but that he regularly hears how low our costs and fees are compared to other communities.

Police

The Moorefield Police Department had 205 calls for service in February. Officers made 14 felony arrests and 72

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• The next meeting is scheduled for March 17 at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall. The public is welcome to attend.