After two breaches in five years Daviess County officials are looking for all kinds of ways to shore up and protect the Bennington Levee.
Instead of dirt and concrete though the county is turning to paper and permits to provide some extra barriers to people who might wind up creating damage to the structure along the West Fork of the White River.
The latest move involves a zoning change called an overlay on the new Daviess County Zoning maps.
“At the request of the Bennington Levee Board we are working on an overlay district,” said President of the Daviess County Area Plan Commission Dennis Helms.
Currently the Levee Board only has a 15 foot easement from the toe of the levee. The overlay would extend 200 feet from the center of structure to both the land and river sides. “Fifteen feet is not sufficient to protect the levee,” said Helms. “Someone could put a well, or pipe or ditch that close and once again threaten it.”
Officials believe the 200 foot zone would be a better solution. “Based on the information we have gathered the consensus is that 200 feet should be sufficient,” said Helms.
The overlay would require anyone wanting to do any work inside the area to first get permission from the Bennington Levee Board. “It doesn’t necessarily stop someone from building in those areas, but it requires people to go through additional permitting.”
The proposed new layer is in addition to any other permits that are already required. “Any construction would have to go through any underlying zoning issues,” said Helms.
“Because it is in the flood plain any work would also have to go through the Army Corps of Engineers and the flood plain administrator,” said President of the Daviess County Commissioners Tony Wichman. “There are also state permits required through the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. There are just several permitting things now for people who want to do work along the levee.”