Faulkner County suffered more than its share of flooding during the awful storms of April.
Some parts of the county, deemed "flood hazard areas" by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) perhaps suffered more than others.
"We can’t keep anyone from building in a flood plain," Faulkner County Judge Preston Scroggin told the Quorum Court on Tuesday night, but an amendment to an existing ordinance would require that any new structure be built two feet above the base flood elevation. That’s a foot higher that required before.
The ordinance addresses only new construction in the special flood hazard areas. Buildings in place would be "grandfathered," Scroggin said.
The cities of Conway and Vilonia have amended their ordinances similarly.
The original ordinance, aimed at minimizing flood losses, is about 20 pages long.
The provisions are enforced by the county’s floodplain administrator, Sheila Maxwell, director of the county’s Office of Emergency Management.
At a Quorum Court meeting earlier in the summer, Maxwell said because the county does not have building permits, it is a burden for her office to be aware of construction undertaken in a flood plain.
She asked the court to make suggestions to assist with the problem of enforcing the ordinance, a requirement of coverage under the National Flood Insurance Program.
The amendment to the ordinance passed unanimously. Justices of the Peace Ancil Lea and Barbara Mathes were absent.
In other business, the court unanimously approved an ordinance authorizing a transaction fee be collected by the District Court for processing payments by credit card. A $2 fee would be charged for payments of $200 and less and $5 for payments over $200.
The funds collected would go into the District Court’s automation fund.
The court heard from Kay Andrew, a volunteer and animal advocate who is asking that a spay and neuter voucher program be established for the county with funding from the volunteer tax collected for an animal control program.
It was reported at the meeting that about $550,000 is in the fund at present.
"I don’t believe that a capture and kill shelter is the best answer for the county," Andrew said. "If a shelter were built at a cost of $1 million, it would take at least half that amount every year to pay for the expense of staff, trucks, insurance.
"A spay and neuter program combined with a program of educating the public would help solve the problem of so many unwanted animals in the county. It wouldn’t solve it right away, but eventually things would get better."
A monthly spay and neuter clinic sponsored by the Humane Society in Springhill is operated by volunteers and is helping with the problem, she said.
New legislation requires that animals that change hands through purchase or adoption are required to be spayed or neutered, she said, and Conway has added a part-time veterinarian who provides the surgery before the animals can be adopted.
Scroggin suggested that Andrew meet with the Courts and Public Safety Committee to arrive at a recommendation for the full Court.
The committee’s next meeting is set for 6 p.m. Sept. 13 at the Courthouse Annex.
(Staff writer Becky Harris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 505-1234.)