Jefferson County Planning Commission explains failure to obtain roof grant for Dillonvale building

Jefferson Co. planning commission works to explain the hows and whys

T-L Photo/ CARRI GRAHAM The Jefferson County Regional Planning Commission office building in Steubenville.

DILLONVALE — The Jefferson County Regional Planning Commission and Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association say they tried endlessly to ensure that the village of Dillonvale would receive the $208,900 Community Development Critical Infrastructure grant to repair the event center roof.

OMEGA Appalachian Regional Commission Program Manager and Community Development Specialist Alan J. Knapp said the reason for the grant’s failure to receive approval was because of the building’s location, which is in a floodway rather than a floodplain. A floodway is the channel of a river or other watercourse and the adjacent land areas that must be reserved in order to discharge a base flood without cumulatively increasing the water surface elevation more than a designated height.

An official letter informed the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners of the grant’s cancelation, specifically pointing out that the building was located in a floodway of Short Creek, which prohibited most actions taken in the area under regulations by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“The county performed additional research to assess the building’s true elevation and determined that the current Federal Emergency Management Agency Flood Insurance Rate Map is accurate and the building is unquestionably located in the floodway. (The Office of Community Development) coordinated with HUD to seek a waiver, but, on January 30, 2019, HUD environmental review staff informed OCD that HUD would not waive this restriction for any project located in the floodway. Therefore, the OCD has no choice other than to cancel the grant,” the letter states.

Knapp said that HUD has restrictions on spending funds in a floodway area and that is why there is no CDBG grant now. The building is located right beside Short Creek. If the creek becomes flooded, there is nowhere else for the water to go, and it could flood the building again, he said. The building flooded in the past when it was still a school building.

“I was told that there’s some kind of marker where the last flood was, and it’s several feet up the building. So the surveyor basically said we can’t issue a map amendment,” Knapp said.

Regional Planning Commission Director Betty Lou stated that once the state awarded the grant, an environmental review had to take place. During the review, it was found that the building was located in a floodway, making it ineligible to receive the grant, Lou said, lamenting the loss of the grant.

“We tried endlessly to get HUD to change their mind (for the roof grant) and they would not do it. … Unfortunately, I don’t know what they are going to do down there. It’s a sad situation, being where it’s located,” Lou added.

“The county definitely wanted that grant for Dillonvale,” Knapp agreed. “And I’m sure they still do. … Our staff did a lot of work on this (grant), and we really feel bad about it.”