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Ordinance changes could lift floodplain development ban

By Jennifer Garlesky • Staff Writer

Macon County residents will have the opportunity to weigh in on amendments to the county’s flood damage prevention and watershed ordinances at a public hearing on Feb. 11.


County officials have been working on revising both of these ordinances over the past eight months. Both ordinances were put to the test last year when a developer announced plans to build an RV park along Cartoogechaye Creek. The development plans called for 185 RV sites to be built on 48 acres near the town of Franklin’s drinking water supply.

The development was opposed by residents, which prompted commissioners to approve an eight-month moratorium in July 2007 on the permitting of recreational vehicles in a floodplain until it could re-write its ordinances. The board is expected to vote on the ordinances at the Feb. 11 board meeting and if approved it will end the moratorium.

County Planner Stacy Guffey and members of Macon’s Watershed Council, a nine-member advisory board, presented the proposed amendments to commissioners at a work session on Jan. 27. Here are the changes that commissioners are considering adopting.

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Flood damage ordinance

Under the new provisions, the county’s flood damage ordinance states that homes and recreational vehicles cannot be built in a floodway or a floodplain. A floodway is an area where floodwater can flow at a high velocity, Guffey explained.

County officials added this particular recommendation, Guffey says, because it’s a requirement set forth by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. By adopting this clause the county is able to qualify for federal disaster relief money if a natural disaster should occur, he said.

Commissioner Bob Simpson says he supports this change but does not want the ordinance to limit development.

“As long as the people this affects are not kept from building, I’m in favor of it,” he said. However, Simpson added if the ordinance does prevent development from occurring he is suggesting that a tax reimbursement package is established for future homebuilders.

Also, the ordinance will require RV parks to develop an emergency evacuation plan. Additionally, RV owners must leave a set of keys with the park’s management. Owners must also sign a waiver that allows management to move their vehicle in case of a flood, he explained.

“We are just trying to make sure these things don’t float down stream like they did in the past,” Guffey said.

Also, if a sudden flood occurs and owners cannot move their RV they will be required to tether their vehicle to a concrete pad.

The ordinance also limits that amount of fill that can be placed in a floodplain. Guffey says this stipulation was added because previous developers were tossing fill dirt around the floodplain, which creates an excess amount of fill that can alter the floodplain size.


Watershed protection ordinance

Changes to the county’s watershed protection ordinance now include a definition of an RV and an RV park. Guffey said this addition was included because the county had no way of managing RVs or the construction of an RV park.

“Before we had no idea how to deal with RVs,” he said.

The proposed ordinance regulates the number of RV parks that can be built in a residential area. By adding this detail county officials will be able to monitor its water supply and ensure that its drinking supply does not become polluted, he explained.

The public hearing begins at 6 p.m. at the Macon County Courthouse.

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