Shady Cove to probe property violations

SHADY COVE — With flood insurance probation less than a month and a half away, the city will begin inspections of 16 riverside properties still in violation of federal floodplain management regulations.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency originally identified 26 Shady Cove properties as having "egregious violations" of the law, but City Administrator Elise Smurzynski said 10 of those properties are now off the list.

She said most remaining violations are related to improvements made by homeowners below the base flood elevation line.

"Things like the location of heat pumps, water heaters and living space below flood elevation," she said. "Anything that would interfere with the flow of water, should you have a significant water event."

Mayor Ruth Keith said the upcoming inspections are a good step.

"It's time we became proactive," she said. "It's too late to change the past. We must move forward and take concrete action."

The inspections, which begin the first week in October, will be a cooperative effort between the city, Jackson County and the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development. Representatives of those organizations agreed to assist Shady Cove's staff, while attending a meeting last month with FEMA officials.

Public Works Director George Bostic said that by scheduling inspections "with this small group of people, we'll be able to find out exactly what still needs to be done and have a pretty good idea of how much it will cost to bring the properties into compliance."

He said technical expertise would come from the city engineer and a building contractor, who both will be part of the inspection team.

FEMA representatives said last month, that although the city was finally "making excellent progress" toward compliance, it was unlikely they could correct the violations soon enough to avoid the Nov. 2 probation deadline.

Probation would mean National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policyholders in the town would pay an additional $50 surcharge when they renew their policy or when a new policy is written. The probation would last at least a full year, even if all flood plain violations were corrected earlier, and could lead to a total suspension from the insurance program.

Councilmen Bill Kyle and Gary Hughes both said they thought it would be a good idea to have the city inspect all houses near the flood plain regardless of whether the residents carried flood insurance.

Mayor Keith said, "We're going to get through what we need to now, and then we will figure out a way. It certainly is my intent to bring as many properties as we can into compliance."

Shady Cove residents Rick Mori and Olin Shanrock, offered to charge the city $1 to inspect flood plain properties.

"Olin is a retired construction executive and I've been a project manager for years," said Mori. "We have the FEMA regulations. We're familiar with the National Building Code and the national electrical and plumbing codes. We could inspect them all in a few weeks."

There was no response from the council.

Mori asked how city inspections were going to be funded. Bostic said city employees are doing the inspections.

The council then unanimously approved a FEMA recommended compliance plan, intended to "remedy and reduce violations of flood plain regulations."

Shady Cove resident Bud Rees asked the council to provide monthly FEMA updates.

"I would like the city administrator to give a comprehensive report of what has gone on during the previous 30 days," he said.

"I think the council is interested in that," said Mayor Keith, "Interested enough to want to have that report on a monthly basis."

Bill Miller is a freelance writer living in Shady Cove. Reach him at

Share This Story