Citizen panel will study flood zones

Owners of riverfront property in Pierce County who are affected by newly identified “channel migration zones” can join a citizens advisory committee being proposed by the Pierce County Council.
Some landowners in the upper Nisqually River valley earlier this year were surprised to learn that they couldn’t develop their property because it had been included within the boundaries of a channel migration zone, which meant it could flood if the river changed course. A resolution (R2008-55) prime sponsored by Councilmember Roger Bush creates a stakeholder panel that will take public comment and make recommendations on the channel-migration mapping policy to the county council.
“This is about balancing the needs of property owners with the needs of the public at large,” said Bush (District 3), whose resolution cleared the council’s Community Development Committee yesterday afternoon (April 14) and now heads to a likely passage by the full council this afternoon at 3 p.m. “Everyone will have a seat at the table.”
The county’s Public Works and Utilities Department, which drew up the channel-migration-zone maps, has agreed to delay the designation until the county council can hear from those affected. The 12-member citizen panel will include property owners from the White, Nisqually, Carbon and Puyallup river areas and South Prairie Creek, floodplain management professionals, and members of watershed councils.
Given the public’s interest in the channel migration zone designation, Bush said, the council will delay any action until the community is fully engaged. He said he wants to make sure some of the citizens advisory group’s meetings happen in the affected communities to assure the maximum number of residents can get involved.
“We won’t do a thing until we’ve heard from everyone,” Bush said. “No one will be left out of this process.”
Public Works and Utilities will advertise for applicants to the advisory committee by May 15, and will submit a list of recommended appointees to the council by June 15. Residents interested in serving on the citizens advisory committee can visit or call (253) 798-2725.