BUCKHANNON — Representatives from Bridgeport based Civil & Environmental Consultants, Inc. (CEC) discussed findings of their recent Hydrologic and Hydraulic Study with Upshur County Commissioners (UCC) Thursday morning. The study provided a comprehensive examination of Brushy Fork and an unnamed tributary of Brushy Fork on the 13.84-acre property located off of Ridgeway Road in Buckhannon for the proposed Wellness Complex project.
Before introducing the CEC team, Commission President Kristie Tenney stated, “We really appreciate the time you’ve put into this project and we’re excited to hear what you’ve found out.”
Erasmo Rizo, along with Structural and Transportation Engineer Greg Linder and Project Manager Andrew Darnell presented the findings on behalf of CEC. Also present for the discussion were Upshur County Floodplain Coordinator Terri Jo Bennett, Upshur County Development Authority (UCDA) Executive Director Rob Hinton, City Engineer Jay Hollen, as well as Mike Ross, a property owner on Brushy Fork.
Project Manager Darnell explained the findings of their study in detail. He stated that the task was to perform a flood study for potential future development on these two properties—the 13.3-acre property owned by the UCC located south of Brushy Fork, and the 19.4-acre property owned by the UCDA located north of Brushy Fork. Portions of both areas are within the 100-year floodplain, Darnell explained. “Our goal was to provide a Hydraulic and Hydrologic Study and analyze the potential impact on the 100-year floodplain,” he stated. CEC formed a topography of the existing floodplains, as well as a draft of 5.9 acres of a potential soccer field complex on the property, to determine accuracy and adequacy.
According to FEMA, the site is located within Special Flood Hazard Areas as depicted on the Upshur County Flood Insurance Rate Map. Regarding the UCDA property, the proposed work will involve the construction of a pad and a storage pond. The purpose of the project will be to construct two pads for future development on the properties of the UCC and UCDA, located within the floodplain of Brushy Fork, according to Darnell. The plan is to place fill on the two properties to raise the pads above the base flood elevation without impacting adjacent properties. With this plan, there will reportedly be zero threat to life or property upstream and downstream of the project area.
The proposed ponds can be left empty or filled. Commissioner Terry Cutright mentioned the Commission was considering filling the ponds and stocking them. The decision to fill them or leave them empty would simply be an aesthetic design decision, according to Rizo. However, if the choice is to fill them, they will need to be deeper in order to maintain floodplain storage, he elaborated. Bennett pointed out that while following FEMA requirements, this will cause absolutely no impact on property owners and will not cause further damage downstream.
Commissioner Sam Nolte asked if where the proposed soccer fields would be located, and anywhere on that property, could they potentially build a building as well? Rizo confirmed Nolte’s assumption was correct. He explained they had to settle on a model to prove it is adequate; however, if they have all the data and another input, they could come up with a different model for the property.
Property owner Mike Ross suggested that with all the land the Board of Education has access to, in addition to already existing soccer fields, this land could potentially be better utilized for future business development instead. He asked Commissioners to look into shed dams, such as what they have done in Randolph County regarding shed dams. Ross emphasized that Buckhannon is a “good place to live and a good place to do business.”
Prior to the conclusion of the discussion, Hollen applauded Bennett and CEC, who have been working hard on this project. “I do have a few questions that I’ll submit, but for most of this discussion, everything looks like what we discussed,” he asserted. Hollen was appreciative of the discussion and said he felt it answered a lot of his questions.
President Tenney proposed another meeting moving forward with UCC, CEC and the UCDA. Hinton was on board, but he suggested waiting for further detailed plans. Nolte expressed gratitude for the presentation as it answered a lot of questions he had as well. He stated that they were not sure what the possibilities could be on this property and now they have a clearer idea. Out of the 13 acres, they have a little less than six that is developable land.
In final thoughts, Rizo expressed, “I am excited to be here and happy to be part of the future development.” CEC opened their office in fall of 2012 with a group of four engineers and surveyors. They now have 110 employees at their Bridgeport location. They are a full service environmental and surveying firm. Additionally, they have a geotechnical group with approximately eight geologists. For more information regarding the study, visit the County Commission agenda packet online at https://cms4.revize.com/revize/upshurwv/2021.01.21%20Agenda%20Packet.pdf.
In other business, the Commission approved correspondence from Shanna Collins requesting reappointment to the James W. Curry Library Advisory Board. Ms. Collins’ term expired on December 31, 2020 and her new term will now expire on December 31, 2025. They also approved a lease agreement between Carl J. Martin Family Gift Trust and the Lewis-Upshur Day Report Center for the use of the building located at 43 WBUC Road, Buckhannon, WV. The lease is effective February 1, 2021 through February 1, 2022 in the amount of $1,400 per month.
Additionally, Commissioners approved correspondence from Sheriff Virgil Miller appointing Chief Deputy John Michael Coffman as the Sheriff’s Department representative on the Court Security Advisory Board, as well as the request to hire Dale Lee Thorne as a part-time Court Security Officer, effective January 31, 2021. Sheriff Miller also requested approval to transfer Kirsten D. Howes from fill-in Court Security Officer to part-time Court Security Officer. With Commission’s approval, the change in employment will be effective January 31, 2021. Due to her current position as a COVID-19 sanitation employee, all hours accrued in this position will be counted towards her 1,040 allowable hours per year.
The County Commission also approved advertisement for a full-time maintenance department position. Applications must be received by 4 p.m. on February 1, 2021.
Commissioners received correspondence from Dan O’Brien, Authorized Representative for Dominion Energy Transmission, Inc., providing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline disposition and restoration plan update. Additionally, they received correspondence from Richard Clemens announcing his resignation as City representative on the Buckhannon-Upshur Airport Authority, effective January 20, 2021. Commissioner Nolte thanked Clemens for his service. “He’s been on the board for 20 years or more and he has been instrumental in the expansion of the airport,” he praised.
The Commission did not make any decision regarding the Upshur County Trails Volunteer Group to utilize a portion of the Upshur County Recreational Park for progressive bike drops, but they will make a decision at a further date when more information is available.
The next regular meeting of the Upshur County Commission will be January 28 at 9 a.m.