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Flood plain residents concerned about plan

November 20, 1998|By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Several Rocky Marsh-area residents voiced concerns to the Berkeley County Commission Thursday morning that a revised flood plain ordinance would restrict efforts to solve flooding problems.

They were assured by Commission President James "Jim" Smith and other county officials that the ordinance wouldn't hinder efforts to get federal permission to clean up Rocky Marsh Run or put gravel on the road leading to their homes.

Smith said the ordinance - including flood plain maps of the Rocky Marsh area updated by FEMA - had to be adopted under federal law so county residents could continue getting flood insurance.

The commissioners adopted the ordinance unanimously.

Roy Cottrell, who lives in the Horner subdivision off W.Va. 45, asked if the revised ordinance prohibited putting gravel on the self-maintained road for the subdivision.

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Cottrell was told that wouldn't be a problem as long as the road wasn't raised so as to flood other people's property.

Richard Canfield, who has lived in the subdivision more than 20 years, asked about language in the ordinance about a right of way that seemed to prohibit residents from cleaning the stream.

Federal wetlands law, not the county's ordinance, is what has prevented dredging of the stream thus far, Berkeley County Engineer William J. Teach said.

The handful of speakers at the public hearing seemed to be mixing two separate issues, Berkeley County Administrator Deborah Sheetenhelm said.

Smith, who said he has worked on the Rocky Marsh problem throughout his six-year term, said U.S. Rep. Bob Wise promised to help secure the needed federal permits for dredging "at the appropriate time."

It's more than a matter of inconvenience, said Horner resident Janet Streets, who said she is frustrated that wetland concerns have taken precedence over health hazards caused by flooding in the area.

Many children who live in the low-lying area can't flush their toilets or drink from the tap after a good rain, Streets said.

"But the fish are more important than the kids," she said.

Several of the Horner residents, including Cottrell, said they didn't believe county officials' assurances.

"This bunch has put us off and put us off," Cottrell said after the meeting.

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