Floodplain waiver granted by Wood commissioners

PARKERSBURG – A request for a waiver of Wood County’s freeboard requirement in the floodplain regulations was granted for Mountain River Physical Therapy, which is planning an expansion of its 37th Street facilities.

“There is a precedence for this in the area, the wavier request was granted on another building,” said realtor John Tebay.

Tebay earlier submitted a petition on behalf of Mountain River Physical Therapy seeking to close part of an alley between the company’s existing business on 37th Street and property the firm purchased on 36th Street. A public hearing has been set for Feb. 11.

On Monday, commissioners looked at photographs provided by neighbors showing water runoff.

“We received calls and went over there. They have stockpiled the dirt. Once it settles, they plan to level it off to build on top of it,” said Ed Hupp, floodplain compliance/emergency management director.

“Apparently this has created some flooding issues for the neighbors,” Commissioner Blair Couch noted, looking at the photographs.

“They will have to have a drainage plan to address the water. The freeboard requires an additional two feet be built up,” Hupp said. “This is not a variance,. They are asking for a waiver of the county’s freeboard. They still have to build to FEMA requirements. The appeal will affect the business insurance. They will pay higher rates. But they are still required to build at base level elevations.”

The county commissioners unanimously approved the waiver.

Neighboring property owner Dick Bennett told the commissioners the water is coming into his backyard.

“If you keep letting everyone do whatever they want, there are going to be more water problems. If it weren’t for the water problems, I’d be OK with it,” he said.

“Their engineer can figure out what to do. It can be addressed before the permit is issued. They will be required to give us a site plan, with drawings. Under the floodplain regulations, they have to get an engineer involved to make sure this is taken care of,” Hupp said.

Commission President Wayne Dunn suggested the commissioners schedule a visit to the area.

“I’m concerned about the height from the neighbor’s point of view,” Dunn said.

Wood County imposed the additional requirement for the two feet over base flood elevation for buildings back in 2007. Builders/property owners can appeal the freeboard regulation, and commissioners can waive the requirement. The base flood level is set by the federal government.

According to county mapping records, the alley the business is seeking to close is 15 feet wide. The area is located in a pocket outside Parkersburg corporate limits so jurisdiction falls to the county commission.

On behalf of the business, Tebay filed the petition seeking closure of the alley. The firm, operating as Webbs Property, limited liability corporation is owner of three lots along 37th Street which is the business’ current location. The firm also purchased seven additional lots along 36th Street. The properties abut each other in the back.

“The company bought these additional lots behind their current location for expansion. They are working with Pickering Associates on the design. They would like to close only that portion of the alley. Thirty employees will be working there, they want to build another building and put in another parking lot,” Tebay told the commissioners earlier. Mountain River Physician Therapy has eight locations in West Virginia, as well as facilities in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia, according to their website.

The commissioners scheduled the public hearing on the alley closure petition for 9 a.m. Feb. 11 in the commission office.