School Project Still On? Flooding Remains Issue

The proposed building area off of Ada Street flooded last December after only a few hours of rainfall.
The proposed building area off of Ada Street flooded last December after only a few hours of rainfall.

By Mark Thomason, Publisher:

At the November 10 Fannin County Board of Education meeting, local surveyor Sam Walker presented his concerns regarding the proposed building site for Fannin County High School’s new agricultural facility.

The school previously announced the AG facility would be built at 762 Ada Street in Blue Ridge on a piece of land the school acquired several years ago. The 38 acre tract partially lies within a zone “A” FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) proposed flood zone.

According to the school board and Southern A&E Architects (the firm hired to do the initial building plans), the specific location proposed for the building was outside any flood zone and would be suitable for construction. Believing the assessment was incorrect, Walker (a certified land surveyor) conducted an independent investigation into the property; he ultimately determined the proposed site was all within a flood zone. Walker took elevation readings at several specific locations at the site, reviewed soil type, and presented to the school board an aerial map of the property, highlighting where he determined the flood zone is actually located.

The existing FEMA flood map used by the school board is classified as a zone “A” map–indicating that the flood zone is an approximate location.

Waljer told the board he had referred his findings to five other professionals-all of which agreed with his findings. He presented a petition signed by 14 individuals who live close to the proposed site; they stated the have seen the area flood after minimal rainfall on several occasions. Walker then asked the board to consider facilitating a meeting between the architects and himself in efforts to help him understand how the property would not be in a flood zone. The board agreed to the meeting. However, as of Tuesday November 29, Walker has not been contacted-over two weeks after the agreement.

Alan Giles, with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources initially declared the property suitable for building. Subsequently he has been presented with new information (which included site elevations). Giles has told the Focus he has concerns the site could very well be within a active flood zone. Giles said he intended to re-visit DNR’s recommendation and conduct further field tests to help determine the actual flood zone.

The Focus will continue to closely follow the potential flooding issues and to report as information becomes available.

Originally the school board had announced they would be “breaking ground” on the project in mid-November, but the project has yet to begin.

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