In a regular meeting of the Claremore City Council on Tuesday, Sept. 4, the council approved a petition to hear why the owner of Park-It Mobile Home Park behind the Ne-Mar Shopping Center requested an exemption from floodplain ordinances for lots on her property.
Within the last 10 months, property owner Cheryl Hastings has moved in two new mobile homes.
“Normally this process is very straightforward and simple, but her property is actually in the 100-year floodplain, which brings in a whole other bag of issues,” said Assistant City Planner Kyle Clifton.
The largest issue is that the city’s floodplain ordinance requires the bottom eye beam on the trailer to be one foot above the base flood elevation listed from FEMA.
Clifton said the existing ordinance “drastically decreases your chances of being inundated with flood water.”
However, “in the case of these two homes, the bottom of the floor would be roughly five and five and a half feet above the ground. We’re talking about almost tree house level,” Clifton said.
“Where it is kind of a bigger issue rather than just aesthetics is that both tenants are disabled,” Clifton said, “and because they have to have an access ramp, being that far above grade could present issues for them.”
Both cases require a variance to permit their mobile homes to be in the mobile home park below the standard set in the ordinance. The houses will still be placed according to the FEMA minimum, but they will be below city standards.
Ward 2 Councilor Justin Michael asked, “Have we had water in this trailer park? We’ve had some significant flooding recently.”
“Not that I can recall,” Clifton said. “According to the FEMA website there is no record of high water marks.”
“Are we under any obligation if a 100-year flood actually floods one of these away?” Michael asked.
City Attorney Bryan Drummond said no. Clifton added that because the owner was requesting the change, and the city wasn’t forcing her to do so, that the city would have no liability.
City Manager Jim Thomas said, “The challenge is that if we grant too many variances, it effects the flood insurance and it becomes that we are treating certain people differently than others.”
Responding to that concern, Clifton suggested that it might be worth the council’s time to reexamine the entire floodplain ordinance.
“None of the other homes in that whole mobile home park are that high,” said Ward 1 Councilor Susan Kirtley.
Most mobile homes in the park have been there since before the floodplain ordinance was written, Clifton said.
“The issue that you get into is when one of those mobile homes moves out and a new one moves in, they have to come into compliance with whatever ordinances are in place at the time,” Clifton said.
Mayor Bill Flanagan said that the last time he saw flooding in and around Ne-Mar was in 1973.
Property owner Cheryl Hastings said there was some minor flooding eight to 10 years previously, and at the time none of the homes were flooded.
Hastings purchased the property from her father, who built the mobile home park in the 1960s.
“I have been working to get testimonies from people that have been in the park a long time for the proof that their trailers have not been damaged,” Hastings said.
“A lot of the homes are already high off the ground, but if we do this, it will be even higher,” Hastings said.
The residents of one of the mobile homes use wheelchairs, and Hastings was concerned about the excessive length necessary for a ramp to go five feet in the air.
The city council voted to approve the petition, meaning that they will hear testimony and make a decision on whether or not to allow the variance on Oct. 15.