Minot city leaders have a very difficult decision to make and very little time to make it.
Monday night, at the regular meeting of the city council, Finance Director Cindy Hemphill outlined a program that could bring in more than a hundred million federal dollars to the state and the city but first Minot has to adopt a new flood plain.
That new map could have far reaching implications for years to come.
Does the city of Minot want to implement strict new building requirements in the valley in order to pick up millions in federal money for home acquisitions?
That's a questions city leaders are wrestling with right now.
The state is eligible for 100 to 150 million dollars in grant money from the Federal Government to help mitigate future flooding.
Money that could be used in Minot to buy heavily damaged homes, relocate other homes, along with protecting public infrastructure.
The catch is the city must act within weeks to change the shape and size of the flood plain - a change that could have far-reaching effects on how the valley rebuilds over the next several years.
(Cindy Hemphill, Minot Finance Director) "Part of adopting the ABFE FEMA would actually help us write our ordinances to meet the new criteria.
The current flood plain is the river, new flood plain would expand the amount of land considered flood-prone - up to 96-hundred CFS - where the green section is on the map.
The orange section is where the water level reached at its height of the flood in 2011.
(Cindy Hemphill, Minot Finance Director) "But it would be for homes that are outside the levees, outside of the diversion so it would be homes out in here potentially that we had documented that at the time of the flood were more than 50% damaged."
Here's where the flood plain change could directly impact people living in the valley.
First Flood Insurance Premiums through FEMA would inevitably increase and possible substantially.
If homes are built in the flood plain or rehabilitated in the floodplain would be required to raise the lowest floor one foot above the new floodplain map, meaning if a home is rebuilt in the valley in an area that had four feet of water in 2011, the main level would have to be raised five feet to meet the new building codes.
(Larry Frey, Minot City Alderman) "If you already redid your house and there's two on the side of you that haven't they're going to have to raise them up and you're going to be sitting way down."
(Cindy Hemphill, Minot Finance Director) "The potential exists that we could have houses with all different elevations throughout the valley."
(Curt Zimbelman, Minot Mayor) "We have failed to be able make, them or get FEMA to allow us to do what we'd like to do as a city to buy some of these homes. It's frustrating especially when people have been told that we've got this amount of hazard mitigation money come to the city, well it isn't getting here because of their regulations."
Homes identified in red could be purchased with the Federal Grant Money however none could ever be built on again and could not fall within the flood control plan for the future.
(Cindy Hemphill, Minot Finance Director) "We could have a hodgepodge of vacant lots all over the city that the city is going to have to own and that the city is going to have to maintain and then one other con that came to me as we were setting through discussions today was of course the potential loss of property values for homeowners that now know they are sitting in the flood plain."
(Blake Krabseth, Minot Alderman) Between the boom and the flood we had a shortage, when that shortage is gone we're going to get a strip through the city that no one wants to buy because they're going to be buying on North and South Hill where all the developments are and then these people who were worried about people putting manufactured homes next to them are going to be in even deeper trouble."
City leaders have a few short weeks to mull over the decision on whether to move forward with the flood study process which will be brought forward at the next council meeting on December 18th.
In Minot Shaun Sipma KX News.
If the plan moves forward all property acquisitions would be voluntary.
To voice your support or concerns about new floodplain you can contact your local alderman before the upcoming December 18th council meeting.