Three houses built in flood plain get OK from city board

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 29, 2020

By Liz Moomey

SALISBURY — The Salisbury Board of Adjustment on Tuesday approved an application from contractor Paul Goodwin to allow a variance for three homes on the 900 block of N. Jackson Street that were built on a flood plain.

Surveying and city files did not show recently built structures on three parcels — 923 N. Jackson St., 927 N. Jackson St. and 929 N. Jackson St. — would be in a flood plain based on the 100 year flood map. Goodwin completed construction last year only to realize the homes were in a floodplain. He notified city staff in December.

The three lots previously had homes on them and were demolished for new construction. City Engineer Wendy Brindle, who has worked for the city for 20 years, said there has been no record of flooding for these particular parcels.

Development Services Manager Teresa Barringer was unable to say previous floor plans were identical to new ones but that it did not look like a significant change.The homes range from one-and-a-half feet to 6 inches below the flood plain level. 

Goodwin said he was not aware that the homes were a foot lower than they should be.

“That’s a simple fix when you’re building a house,” he said.

But now, he said, it is not possible to jack up a slab house because it would impact the utilities.

When he was informed that the three single family homes were in a flood plain, he responded, “You’re scaring me.”

“I’ve been scared ever sense,” Goodwin said.

The homes have gotten a certificate of occupancy from the county, but no one is currently living in them. Goodwin said they are intended to be rented.

Member Jon Post said he is familiar with the area and has not see water in the low part of the lot. 

Member Bill Burgin said he believes the contractor was not aware and didn’t try to build a home in a flood plain.

The board agreed and unanimously approved the variance to allow the homes to be in the flood plain.

The Board of Adjustment also approved a variance to reduce rear yard setbacks for four lots at The Reserve at the Country Club, 701, 705 and 709 Heatherwood Place and 1305 Devonmere Place. The board added a condition for the developers to double the shade tree canopy along the common area on 701 and 705 Heatherwood Place.

Realtor Victor Wallace said he was willing to provide additional trees to provide a screen between the homes and the neighborhood’s common space.

The board cited irregular shape of the lots, which were subdivided years ago, as they unanimously approved the request.