ASHBY — It seems the best was saved for last.
After dealing with routine end-of-year appointments and money transfers at the June 25 Ashby Board of Selectmen meeting, town administrator Linda Sanders had a surprise.
Sanders announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had accepted Ashby’s challenge to the new flood plains map.
“This is totally amazing,” Sanders said. “This was a big deal.”
In November 2007, FEMA sent maps to the town indicating that the town’s flood zone now encompassed 20 more structures than before. FEMA asked that the town accept or reject these maps, and to provide documentation if the town rejected them.
Selectmen rejected the agency’s maps. Andrew Leonard, the town’s land-use coordinator, prepared documentation to send to FEMA in January. When possible, he sent photos of the buildings, showing them to be on high ground.
“These maps don’t relate to the USGS maps at all,” Leonard said. “There are places where the flood zone doesn’t even include the stream. These (new) maps are closer to what we have from Mass GIS.”
Leonard said FEMA used 1970s maps overlaid with aerial photos and that FEMA did not conduct new elevation calculations for Ashby.
Alan Pease, on the Ashby Planning Board, said FEMA did not redraw Ashby’s maps, although they did redraw maps for other communities. This may have caused some of the inaccuracies, he said.
“The financial ramifications are profound for these people,” Selectman Geoff Woollacott said in January. If the structures had been within the flood plain, he said, insurance rates could have increased and that would affect future use of the land.
Much of the remaining agenda was routine, with selectmen approving reserve fund transfers for end-of-the-year expenses.
* The town saw an increase in dispatcher wages and needed to transfer $5,000 for cover them. “Due to the fact of the situation, we are lacking dispatchers,” Selectman Peter McMurray said. The town has been using other personnel to cover the position.
* The Fire Department received $2,130 from the reserve fund to pay for alarms that were damaged in a lightning strike at the highway barn.
* The selectmen transferred $6,000 from the reserve fund to legal counsel services. McMurray said he was not allowed to say what these services were for.
* The selectmen approved transfers within the Fire Department budget to cover truck repairs, but delayed a request for a transfer within the cemetery budget until the next meeting. Selectmen did not know why the cemetery department transfer was requested. “I don’t want to kill it,” Woollacott said. “I just want to find out what he’s doing.”
Selectmen also approved a common victualler License for Alliance Energy Corporation. McMurray said that the company recently purchased the Mr. Mike’s chain.