Rutland attempts land sale that may violate FEMA agreement
Dollar General, then Family Dollar
A second land development deal involving the Village of Rutland is in dispute.
While investigating a legally challenged sale of property to Dollar General, The Meigs Independent Press gained information on a different property and sale involving Family Dollar corporation.
The Village of Rutland signed an agreement last September to sell Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) mitigated property to Family Dollar, according to Family Dollar representatives.
Located along State Rt. 124, Ken Arbino, the broker for the Family Dollar purchase, said the Village of Rutland offered the property without disclosing its status as a floodway.
At the time of the sale, Abrino was only told the property was located in a flood plain.
“We cannot build on a floodway, no one can,” explained Tray Perman, the developer for the Family Dollar site in Rutland.
In an interview, he referred to the National Flood Plain Plan, which places restrictions on those types of properties.
Perman said he met with the Village, was also told it was in a flood plain, but was given no indication the site was also in a floodway.
This type of property is described as “mitigated” by Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA), and mitigated tracks can never be sold and no permanent structures can be erected, to prevent further damage from recurrent flooding, per their regulations.
In the case of Rutland, FEMA purchased land from the Village after numerous flood incidents from the 1960’s on. After land restoration and cleanup was completed in 1999, the properties were returned to the village with restrictions in place.
Development can occur only if millions spent by FEMA to reclaim the land is repaid, as well as other considerations.
Just a few days prior from ground breaking on the new store, Family Dollar became aware that the site was unsuitable and suspended development.
While conducting due diligence on the property, Arbino said he found it to be in a a flood plain and floodway.
Though it was unlikely Family Dollar would be penalized for the purchase, Rutland residents would ultimately bear the burden of any sanctions.
FEMA steps in
Sanctions, Meigs Emergency Management Association (EMA) Director Jamie Jones, said theoretically could run in the millions of dollars.
According to Jones, after the transfer was complete, it became the Village’s responsibility to maintain the properties and retain a village Flood Plain Manager.
Other FEMA resources say repeated reclamation projects of flooded areas fall on the federal government, and FEMA mitigated lands are designed to prevent additional costs and destruction.
These resources also provides maps to to any interested party.
Ohio Emergency Management Association (ODPS) Directors of counties containing such properties are required to file a report every three years and visually inspecting the properties, ensuring permanent structures are not placed.
Jones, along with FEMA State Mitigation representative Steve Ferryman, arranged an educational meeting on Jan. 11, 2017, with Rutland Village Mayor and Council members, after the EMA members became aware of the Village’s intent to allow development on the property.
During the meeting. Jones and Ferryman presented information and answered questions concerning FEMA mitigated property in the village.
Ferryman also presented the Village with ideas for use of mitigated properties, including making the areas perpetual green spaces, parks, or wetlands. However, he reiterated the property could never contain permanent structures – such as a newly constructed business.
Meigs County Commissioners broker new location
Family Dollar suspended plans to open a store when the company discovered the land was mitigated, but say they were helped by the Meigs County Commsioners with an opportunity to relocate within the village.
“Commissioner Randy Smith reached out to Family Dollar,” Perman said. “ He worked with us after we confirmed the original site was not feasible, and assisted in finding another parcel of land that met our requirements.”
Ground breaking has already begun on land purchased from Rutland resident Chris Hutton, and Family Dollar expects to open in Rutland this summer.
“We moved quickly to secure the new location, and our building and opening dates were not compromised as a result,” continued Perman.
Arbino said he was pleased the company is locating a new store in Rutland, saying “My research showed the area represented an underserved market, and with the elementary school just down the street, Rutland was a good location.“
Family Dollar currently plans to open an additional store in the Wilkesville area.
“Our goal was to find suitable land on which to build,” Perman said. “We were ready to begin when this information came to light, so we moved on the new location.”
He said voiding the original contract with the Village would come at a later time.
(Editor’s Note: Rutland Village remains unavailable for comment following publication of a prior land deal, and have only made a single public statement, shown below.)