Oct 22, 2015

South Fork ranch allowed to build in flood zone

The owners of a South Fork ranch have gotten to OK to build a new home near the South Fork of the Shoshone River.

Before an unanimous Oct. 6 vote to allow the construction in what’s now designated as a flood zone, Park County Commissioner Tim French asked if the county would have any liability if a flood ended up hitting the Ishawooa Mesa Ranch’s new residence.

An aerial view of the site, taken in 2014. The South Fork of the Shoshone River can be seen at the bottom right. Photo courtesy Park County
Park County Planning Director Linda Gillett explained it’s up to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to ultimately sign off on the house. One condition of county approval was that it appear “reasonably safe from flooding.”

“I would say that it’s reasonably safe from flooding,” Gillett said. “It is in a risky spot there, I think, but according to the FEMA regs, it meets their standards.”

The Ishawooa Mesa Ranch’s ownership is currently in the process of having FEMA remove the site from the “special flood hazard area,” so it won’t be in a flood zone any longer.

The new house will replace one that was built in 1932 and demolished about six years ago.

Cody engineer Paul Blough of Holm, Blough and Co., representing the ranch, said the new home will be about three feet higher than the one it’s replacing.

Blough said he looked at what would happen in a once-in-500-year flood and found the waters wouldn’t rise much more than they would in more typical years.

The ranch’s owners also built up the river bank in 2011 after high water cut across the property, just south of the new home site.

~By CJ Baker

1 comment:

  1. Good luck with getting a flood plain waiver from FEMA or the Army Corps of Engineers. That has an odor to it. The South Fork has been known to change its channel by as much as a half mile in some years. Curious why the County didn't add the condition that the owners buy Flood Insurance, which can only be purchased from the federal government, before signing off on this and go against their own land use regs. Wouldn't that let the County off any ( imaginary ) hook ?

    P.S. On a side note, see if you can get anyone to talk about the fight that either Brown Thomas Meadow Ranch or Valley Ranch had when they built their massive flood berms along the South Fork without any permits from the State or Army Corps.


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