Phillipsville requesting a low-density residential designation

To the Editor:

Some very dedicated community members have been requesting for the past 12+ years that the land use designation in the lower part of Phillipsville be changed back to principally allow houses and general agriculture, as was allowed prior to the adoption of the 2000 Avenue of the Giants Community Plan. They even started a petition which 100 percent of property owners in the flood zone signed requesting the change.

The current designation is an Open Space designation of CFR (Conservation Floodway Recreation), and is intended for the use of... "Open Space." In all the other communities in the flood zone, with the exception of most of the parcels in Myers Flat and one parcel in Stafford, you will not find the "living area" designated CFR.

Myers Flat also seems very unfairly designated whereas the only parcels that are not zoned CFR in the flood plain are those which the owner requested it before the change took effect 12+ years ago. CFR generally applies (and is defined to apply) to open space areas such as the river bar, where there is no human occupancy.

What that means for residents is a lot of additional requirements (and money) if their house is burned down or destroyed by a flood. They would need to apply for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP). It could be thousands of dollars, months of additional county approval time, neighborhood approval (you can’t rebuild unless your neighbors approve, better hope you are friends with everyone in your neighborhood), and at the end of the numerous hoops you have to jump through you will probably be denied the ability to rebuild (and don’t expect any of the application money back). By definition, it would not be legal to allow building within an Open Space designation, so it is hard to see the request to build or rebuild approved.

The biggest impact the change would have is on existing dwellings. By changing the designation back to principally allow residential uses, the existing structures could rebuild in the case of a flood or fire without the costly, time-consuming and questionable CUP process.

Changing the designation will not change the fact that the property is still within a flood zone and subject to the flood zone building regulations. So, like the other communities in the flood zone (some of which are even higher in the flood zone), these residents would still have to conform to all building regulations and codes for construction in a flood zone.

Changing the designation to be consistent with other communities in the flood zone could allow for minimal increased growth (low density). Residential low-density designations are applied throughout other communities in the flood plain. I have not heard any person, myself included, request a high-density designation.

Community Service Districts have the opportunity to provide strong representation for their members. Many CSD’s in our area are involved in representing their communities with their own zoning concerns. Some are even planning to continue their representation all the way to court.

The volunteer members of the board of Phillipsville Community Service District have been doing their best to represent their community on this issue. The Phillipsville Community Service District is requesting that people who reside in the flood plain should be designated appropriately, fairly and like other communities in the flood zone. The PCSD plans to represent Phillipsville at the board of supervisors meeting regarding zoning, currently scheduled for February.

Bonnie Mullaney