Floodplain manager explains necessity of his position

HANOVER – Code Enforcement Officer and Floodplain Manager Thomas Gould explained to the Hanover Planning Board why a flood plain manager is important and required.

At a recent town board meeting the necessity of a floodplain manager was questioned when the board was asked to vote on a conference request in Poughkeepsie.

Gould explained in 1987 the town passed a local law declaring the code enforcement officer would be the flood plain manager. Gould is the first certified floodplain manager in the town.

He said the town was about to face sanctions before Gould became certified about two years ago.

Gould said he is the only floodplain manager in Chautauqua County, one of seven in Western New York and of those he is the only one who is also a code enforcement officer.

He said becoming certified was difficult, but the position is required by the state Department of Environmental Conserva-tion and National Flood Insurance Program.

“I have been in building for a long time, so becoming a building inspector was not difficult. The civic service exam was easy. Then they told me I also had to be the floodplain manager and I got as much training as I could. I went to Maryland, and conferences in Rochester, Binghamton and Buffalo and I learned a lot. Then I took the exam and it was difficult. I was told I was one of the few to pass it on the first try,” he said.

To maintain his certification, Gould must receive 16 credits every two years. He said he is able to do this by attending the New York Floodplain and Stormwater Managers Association conference each year. This year that conference is in Poughkeepsie.

Gould noted Sunset Bay has the most claims in western New York. In addition to this, Gould said the DEC does not currently have a certified flood plain manager so local municipalities are being directed to him for advice on floodplain management.

Gould said between helping other municipalities and preventing building practices that could be a danger in a flood, he is kept busy.

He gave one instance where a resident in Sunset Bay was issued a DEC permit to restore the creek bank on the property, but used concrete fragments instead of limestone riprap.

“She was told not to use concrete because it floats. If we get an ice jam it will pick up that concrete and block the creek, causing a flood worse than we have ever seen,” Gould said, adding the DEC took the matter to court.

He said the Insurance Service Office, which analyzes enforcement in order to determine if insurance rates go up or down, will be in the town this year. This affects all types of insurance including home and flood.

Gould gave planning board Chairwoman Carol DePasquale information on the flood plain manager position to pass on to the town board.

Gould also suggested the planning board consider implementing a contractor licensing system. He said it does not have to cost money, but if the town does not license contractors, it cannot disallow anyone who does “lousy work.” No action was taken on this.

The planning board will meet March 17 at 7 p.m. in the town hall. There will be a public hearing on a proposed subdivision on King Street at 7:30 p.m. The town board will meet Feb. 24.