Floodplain variance approved

Published 10:22 am Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Members of the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors voted to approve variances for the county’s floodplain route during its meeting Monday.

Five of the seven board members voted to approve the proposed variance. District Seven Supervisor Danny Allen was absent and District Three Supervisor Don Matthews abstained.

“ACP has identified 6 locations that include 2 miles of pipeline construction and 1.2 miles of access roads in floodplains of the James River, North River, Slate River, Willis River, and Little Willis River,” a past meeting board packet cited.

The pipeline would cross approximately 27 miles in Buckingham County.

The variance was initially tabled during the board’s December meeting.

There were amendments made to parts A and B of the conditions, provided by Buckingham County Administrator Rebecca Carter.

Carter said KCI Technologies Inc. was hired to review documents related to the floodplain and provide an assessment of compliance or non-compliance with granting a variance for the county’s ordinance.

Carter said based on KCI’s recommendations, she believes the committee addressed the concerns presented by KCI. KCI conducted an initial review in June and found that there was insufficient information to grant a waiver to the floodplain ordinance.

Under condition 5 of the floodplain permit conditions, relating to the Floodplain Crossing (A), James River, the condition says that “the applicant shall utilize the (Federal Emergency Management Agency) FEMA model.”

The amended condition goes on to add, “if such model exist.”

Carter said it appears FEMA does not have the model previously discussed relating to the application.

In comments dated Oct. 24, 2018 by KCI Technologies, KCI officials cited that under  Floodplain Crossing (A) James River, that the James River is a FEMA detailed study (Zone AE) with regulatory floodway.

The comments by KCI cited that the “provided model does not utilize effective FEMA model as the basis of analysis when measuring project water surface elevation impact.”

Carter said the county would have to certify whether the model does or does not exist.

The amended condition concludes by stating, “If no FEMA model exist, the Applicant shall comply with the conditions paragraph 4 of Part A.”

Paragraph 4 of Part A cites that for floodplains crossing (B) North River, (D) North River, (E) Slate River, (F) Willis River and (G), Little Willis, that the “applicant must provide cross sections in the area of the pipeline crossing at an approximately 250 linear foot interval, measured along the centerline of the stream, up to the limits of existing field topographic data to a maximum of 500 linear feet upstream and 500 linear feet downstream of the pipeline crossing to establish the geometry of the stream and allow for a measurement of the project Water Surface Elevation impact.

“The cross sections required in subsection a. above, must reflect the geometry of the channel at the section to establish the cross sectional width and slope at the respective section,” the paragraph continues. “(c)  Applicant shall provide a topographic location map of the cross section locations on USGS Topographic Maps (d) The applicant must provide an updated narrative summary of all modeled cross sections and must compare existing and proposed conditions. (e) To the extent necessitated by the provision of the information required in these conditions, a restated ‘no-rise’ justifications shall be provided or a ‘no-impact’ statement if a ‘no-rise’ condition cannot be achieved.”

Under condition one of Part B of the permit conditions, a notice to proceed would need to be issued by the Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC) and a certification would be needed to the county.

“All necessary approvals/permits applicable to construction on the properties subject to these permits shall be acquired from all applicable regulatory bodies of the state and federal government and a Notice to Proceed shall be issued by FERC to begin construction on the properties subject to the permits. A certification of the same shall be made to the County and copies of such approvals/permits shall be provided to the County upon request,” the full condition reads.

The seventh condition amended condition cites that “The Applicant shall neither commence any work on a parcel nor shall the building permit(s) be issued or become effective until such time as the Applicant provides evidence to the County Attorney of its lawful right to encroach upon such property it intends to commence work to construct the ACP and utilize associated right-of-way on the parcels identified above.”

“I’d like to state that if you grant this variance, it has not given ACP permission to go on property owners’ property without the easement,” Carter said. “If they don’t get that approval, they cannot go on that property.”

Carter said the utilities committee met prior to the February meeting to discuss the floodplain variances. The members of the committee include Carter, District Four Supervisor Morgan Dunnavant, District Two Supervisor Donnie Bryan, County Attorney E.M. Wright, County Finance Director Karl Carter and representatives of ACP.

This article has been corrected from its original version.