Sherman recently agreed to spend more than $200,000 to purchase eight local properties that are currently in the floodplain and flooded during the severe storms the area received on Aug. 13.

The Sherman City Council approved the purchase of a commercial property at 1721 West Lamar St. and residential properties at 621-623, 625-627, 629-631, 633-635 and 638-640 Regency Circle, and 1134-1136 and 1138-1140 West Washington St. The West Lamar Street property’s sale price was $170,000 with funding coming from certificates of obligation issued by the city. The properties at 629-631 and 638-640 Regency Circle were then approved together for $248,000 and the remaining properties were approved for the sales price of $610,000, with the residential properties expected to be eligible for 90 percent reimbursement through a 2015 Flood Mitigation Assistance Project Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“Our plan for this area was to purchase, really, all the proprieties that flooded,” City Manager Robby Hefton said. “We originally projected that that was going to be somewhere in the $1 million to $1.1 million range. Because these properties had FEMA insurance and/or were part of the FEMA grant that we received, the city’s portion through our newly created stormwater program is going to be $200,000 to $300,000 instead of the $1.1 million.”

City staff said the purchase of the properties will reduce the risk of future damage to other properties in the area, as well as reducing citizen risks, when floodwaters rise.

“The severity of the flooding at these particular locations rises to the level wherein FEMA and the city of Sherman feel that the danger of allowing those structures to continue to exist outweighs the cost of removing them,” Community and Support Services Manager Nate Strauch said.

Hefton said with the FEMA assistance, the city was leveraging its local dollars at about a 3-to-1 ratio with the federal dollars, which means the rest of the city’s money earmarked for the project will be able to be used for other local stormwater programs.

“So it’s a great first use, I believe, of our stormwater program fund,” Hefton said

The council recently created a Stormwater Utility Program for the city that is designed to allow Sherman to address capital project needs identified from the Post Oak Creek Flood Protection Plan related to runoff from significant storms. A fee of $1 per month is charged based on one equivalent residential unit, which works out to 3,400 square feet of impervious area. Customers with less than that amount of impervious area on their property pay less than $1 and those with more pay per equivalent residential unit that they have on their property. City staff said the fee is expected to raise $460,000 for infrastructure projects during its first year.

Hefton explained the properties will be used as green space once the structures are removed.

“There will be some maintenance requirements obviously, as this goes on, but our hope is as we purchase these properties, in the future, perhaps they’ll become part of our parks inventory,” Hefton said. “Even if it’s just open green space or part of a trail or something. So we’ll purchase the property and demolish them and also put deed restrictions on the property itself, so structures can’t be built on these again in the future.”

In a document prepared for the city council, city staff noted clearing the structures from the properties and maintaining them as open spaces will allow for better drainage in the area and be in line with natural flood plain functions for the city.

Council member Pam Howeth said the property owners are happy to be selling their land.

“They want out — they’ve been flooded,” she said. “So it’s not like we’re forcing anything on them.”

Council member Willie Steele then asked what will come of the remaining properties on Regency Circle.

“There’s three buildings that we didn’t purchase,” Director of Engineering Clint Philpott said. “And that kind of came down to what the property owner was willing to sell us. We didn’t go to the step of trying to condemn anything. But the three that are left are the furthest away from the creek.”

Philpott said the residents at those properties will be able to continue living there and he said only one of the three flooded during the storms in August.

Floodplain mapping

Immediately prior to approving the purchase of the properties, the council also approved a contract with Halff Associates Inc. to update Sherman’s floodplain mapping for $342,000.

“They will update our floodplain maps and they’ll also help analyze which location is the best spot for a new regional detention facility,” Philpott said. “The Post Oak Creek Floodplain Study showed several locations and this will help pinpoint specifically where we want it.”

In an email sent to Philpott, Halff’s Water Resources Team Leader Jeffrey J. Alvarez wrote the project will take approximately 13 months to complete. In a document prepared for council members, city staff wrote an updated floodplain map ensure building permits are being approved on properties outside the floodplain limits. The update is also expected to affect the Flood Insurance Rate Maps, which will ensure the accuracy of flood insurance premiums on flood prone properties.