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City Seeks $1.2 Million FEMA Grant to Purchase Flood Plain Homes

February 28, 2011

03/01/11  Monday night members of the Plymouth Common Council listened as Mayor Mark Senter asked for their consideration on a resolution seeking approval of the local dollar match for the City’s Grant Application for a FEMA Flood Home Buyout Program.

Jennifer Laurent, Executive Director of the Marshall County Economic Development Corporation did a presentation of the grant application as the grant administrator.

The application indicates that Plymouth has been susceptible to flooding for a number of years with many homes and business in the flood plain of the Yellow River in constant threat of flooding or sustaining damages.  In the past two years the City has experienced three separate floods, 2 in 2008 and 1 in 2009.

Details of the grant application and maps show 13 properties that have met the pre-analysis requirements of the federal grant.  Laurent made it perfectly clear.  “The program is an entirely voluntary process.  There are no powers of eminent domain to be used.”

The areas the City is looking at include the property currently determined to be the new downtown park area. There are 7 pieces of property along East Garro Street. The second location is in the area of South Plum and Walnut Streets.  There are 6 pieces of property.

The majority of property owners are interested in the project although not all owners are interested in selling.  A meeting with property owners was held on February 15th.

In 2009 the city was able to purchase 4 homes in the downtown area along LaPorte and River Streets with a $200,000 FEMA grant.

The total estimated cost of the project is $1,211,043 of which the city would be responsible for 25% or $302,760.  The source of the local matching funds would be determined by the Mayor, Clerk/Treasurer and City Council members.  A portion of the local match could be from in-kind services including attorney fees, grant administration fees, demolition and more.

It was noted that $60,000 was appropriated in this year’s budget for property acquisition and that TIF District #2 has some funds available for land acquisition.  It was also mentioned that Clerk Treasurer Toni Hutchings has identified a fund that could provide the entire match is necessary.

Councilmember Chuck Ripley asked what the intended use would be for the property on South Plum Street other than taking it back to a nature area.  He said, “I have a little problem with that.”

Councilman Mark Neidig said, “Overall strategically I’m in favor of this but I need more time to dig into it.”

The resolution passed 3 to 5 with Ripley and Neidig voting against and Don Gardner, Wayne Smith and Mike Delp voting in-favor.