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Construction on fire station could begin soon

Hardin’s fire trucks could have a new roof over their hoods soon.
Hardin City Clerk Patty Lam will send paperwork today to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state’s counterpart agency today for approval on the structure.
Getting approval from FEMA is the final hurdle Hardin Fire District needs to clear before construction can begin.
The fire district cleared the biggest hurdle earlier this month when it received word that the city had approved a variance for the structure.
Conflict arose when foundation walls for the structure were poured three feet less in height than what base flood elevation (BFE) numbers require.
It is anticipated that FEMA may lower the BFE by three feet when new numbers and maps are released later this year.
Alderman and Assistant Fire Chief Colin Chang said he thinks FEMA regulations may increase with the new BFE.
“They’re going to issue us an entirely different ordinance and I bet you bottom dollar it’s going to be constraining and more required than what we have now,” Chang said at a meeting of the Aldermen on Monday night. “I’m apprehensive about what they’re going to say at this point.”
Public Works Director Larry Eastley said he believes the town will move out of the “flood plain” classification into a “flood way” classification. He said those regulations simply require structures to have two open doorways so the flow of water cannot be restricted.
Chang said the only construction that will take place this year is putting up the frame of the building with no floor or plumbing. He said essentially it will be a shed and should meet SEMA guidelines.
“With two open doors on both ends it really is in the same category of anything else we’ve ushered in, in the past or given a variance for,” Chang said. “We’ve done it before. We’re not going to be doing anything else but putting up the equivalent of a shed.”
Eastley urged the board to wait until final approval from FEMA before moving forward with anything.
“You can call it whatever you want, but they’re not going to call it a shed,” Eastley said. “If you got a door on both ends I’ve been calling it good, but SEMA might not call it good.”
Alderman Randy Estenbaum said SEMA may be more responsive if they wait to hear back.
“If we just go ahead and send it to them in a symbol of good faith it might come back quick,” he said.
Eastley said the city may have an answer back by the end of the week.
Chang said the building would have to be finished next year when tax reserves are replenished.

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