MOUNT VERNON — Darrell Severns, director of the Knox County Regional Planning Commission, addressed the commissioners concerning flood plain criteria and stream bank buffers under the subdivision regulation during their Thursday meeting.
The regulation stipulates that if a lot split for development takes place around or on top of a stream of a certain magnitude it needs to have a buffer, said Severns.
There has been several incidences that have occurred this year regarding this regulation, he said. One of which brought this directly to his attention.
“A landowner came in with a surveyed property for a lot split. I knew nothing about the stream until the map showed it going through the split. So we have to enforce this regulation, but this will cause the property owner to go back and get a recorded easement that has a detailed survey — an additional cost to the property owner,” said Severns.
Severns’ question arose with the last part of the regulation which states that “the county commissioners will name an appropriate administrative officer to supervise and enforce the easements.” Currently, no officer has been named.
Since no direct officer has been designated with the duty, these situations are not monitored regularly.
“There are checks and balances,” said Commissioner Allen Stockberger, adding that other departments play a role in this process including the Knox County Soil & Water Conservation District whose purpose is to help guild people on good water and soil conservation and on where to build and where not to.
“I have no desire to overregulate our constituents. The challenge I see is to find a reasonable balance between preventing the undesirable consequences of no regulations, at times, and an onerous situation where we are just creating burdens on our people,” said Stockberger.
Commissioner Teresa Bemiller agreed. “I think there is a point where we can go too far,” she said.
Bemiller asked if the regulation ever prohibited someone from being able to build, and if there was a penalty associated with those that didn’t abide by the regulation.
Severns answered that rarely does it prevent a landowner from building, however it may limit where they can build. In regards to any penalty, he said landowners would not be able to receive a lot split approval from RPC, if requirements are not met.
The regulation was adopted in August 2007 but since then new flood plain maps have come out through FEMA that don’t highlight all of the designated flood plain areas.
“The intent of this regulation is to advise new landowners of potential hazard,” said Stockberger.
Bemiller asked Severns when property owners are told they need to comply with regulations are guidelines set up to help them.
“[The format] is based on the watershed that particular stream is serving. The USDA provides a watershed calculator online and the regulations are set up by a table of measurements by square footage or acreage,” he said.
Stockberger said supervision of potential flood plain areas should be a “judgment call” from the implement role of the RPC when it comes to monitoring building in flood plain areas.
“We do enforce the implementation of the green bank buffer easements. Before the lots get approved, that particular requirement has to be met; but where we go beyond that is more subjective. We want to enforce the spirit of the law but not be so anal,” he said.
In other business, the commissioners approved B&J Drilling Company Inc. of Danville to apply brine, as needed, at 13911 Millersburg Road and 27550 Buckeye Road in Danville for ice and dust control.
The commissioners also discussed the Ohio Revised Code 711.131 in regards to paragraph B which authorizes planning authorities to approve divisions of parcels of land without plat.
“In certain cases, what we run up against, is once property owners have done all the splits allowed under this legislation and someone wants to do a non-building lot it would cause the whole thing to go into a major subdivision,” said Severns. “Someone splitting off a non-buildable lot having to go through the major subdivision process, we would like to be able to appeal that and come up with a different solution.”
The commissioners plan to look further into the issue, including meeting with Margaret Ann Ruhl, Knox County’s state representative, on what can be done to appeal.