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Flood plain ordinance proposed

A flood plain map from shows the flood plain south of Highway 34 near the 12-Mile Water Treatment Plant.
A flood plain map from shows the flood plain south of Highway 34 near the 12-Mile Water Treatment Plant.

During its regular meeting Monday, the Union County Board of Supervisors held a public hearing on the proposed flood plain management ordinance. The ordinance would require a permit before building or deconstructing structures or altering waterways or drainage areas in a flood plain.

Any structure built in a flood plain would be required to be “flood proofed” by: elevating the lowest floor at least one foot above flood stage, allowing for automatic drainage of flood waters, being anchored to prevent the structure from floating during a flood, and constructing service facilities such as electrical and plumbing at least one foot above flood stage or providing other means of flood proofing for these facilities.

Plans for structures in a flood plain would need to be certified by an engineer or surveyor registered in the state of Iowa.

Alteration of waterways or drainage areas would be required to be approved by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to ensure such plans do not interfere with the flood carrying capacity.

Union County Emergency Management Coordinator Jo Anne Duckworth explained the need for the ordinance.

“The ordinance passed two years ago is not enough to be compliant with the National Flood Insurance Program,” Duckworth said. “If we don’t pass it, we don’t get an NFIP number and don’t qualify for grants.”

She also stated that land owners would not be able to get insurance without a compliant flood plain management ordinance.

Supervisor Rick Friday presented an issue raised by Union County landowner Duane Wittstock. Wittstock was concerned the proposed ordinance would create zoning in the unincorporated areas of Union County which have historically been free from zoning.

Friday cited the penalties for violation as possible evidence the ordinance strays into the realm of zoning.

Duckworth compared this ordinance to the recently passed wind farming ordinance, stating each of them is designed to protect the interest of other land owners who might be affected by their neighbors’ construction plans.

The board voted to hold a second reading of the ordinance July 1 in order to give time for Wittstock to more fully state his objections and appear in person, allow the supervisors to give more attention to the matter, and allow input from Union County Attorney Tim Kenyon, who was currently not available.

The full text of the current and proposed ordinances are available at The flood plain map is available at or the Union County Emergency Management office.

Other business

In other Union County Board of Supervisors business:

•The board received quotes for liability insurance for the county from Tom Hartsock of Carter Insurance Agency and Phil Tyler of Tyler Insurance Services.

•DCAT Coordinator Jocelyn Blazek requested the board chair sign the family assistance contract renewal. DCAT provides a means to assist families when there is a gap in funding, helping keep children in their homes or reunifying them with their families when possible. The Department of Human Services has set aside $45,000 for this program. The board moved to sign the renewal and the motion passed.

•Union County Auditor Sandy Hysell presented a letter of resignation from Highland Township Trustee Jim Garrett. The board voted to accept the resignation and appoint Rusty Zimmerman to serve as the new trustee.

The Union County Board of Supervisors meets weekly 9 a.m. Monday at the Union County Courthouse.

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