Mayor Gerdeman is seen above pointedly questioned by a village resident whose property abuts what has become a controversial residential development in Kalida - Putnam Sentinel
Mayor Gerdeman is seen above pointedly questioned by a village resident whose property abuts what has become a controversial residential development in Kalida.

KALIDA — “You know, I spent private money…Because you guys wanted a nice layout of everything,” stated local developer Roger Rampe in a loud voice imparting a great deal of anger at the March 19, 2018 meeting of the Kalida Village Council. “This is ridiculous. How do you try to get properties here so people can build homes on, residential homes, and you guys come in with this kind of B.S.?”

Rampe had come before council back in March to complain about what he viewed as unnecessary meddling into his efforts to develop residential homes in the village. He specifically blamed Mayor Alan Gerdeman for a slow approvals process, at times flinging curse words toward him in anger.

“[The village’s floodplain ordinance] literally says, ‘The development shall cause no increase in flood levels during the occurrence of the base flood discharge,’ said one of Rampe’s neighbors during the most recent council meeting this past Monday. And so, right there, he’s already put the riser on and raised it two feet, eight inches. So, I guess the concern is, as we mentioned last week, there’s been no real plan.”

This neighbor had come before council to complain that the village had not done enough in enforcing its own development and floodplain rules. She, at times, also spoke with a loud voice imparting a good deal of frustration. Though never explicitly stated, she seemed to specifically blame Mayor Alan Gerdeman, who also serves as floodplain administrator, for being too lax in his approach and not doing enough to slow things down and ensure rules are being followed.

Much like the strong fence in a well-known phrase, Gerdeman has been in the unviable position of standing between these neighbors for several months now.

In a letter sent to Rampe last January approving his initial plans for moving dirt within the floodplain, Gerdeman wrote, “I hope your development goes well, as I am confident it will be a nice addition to the village.”

During Monday evening’s council meeting, Gerdeman said, “Remember, I’m along the creek too…We’re trying to work this out such that it doesn’t do any damage. So that he can continue to develop, but the property owners are not unduly affected by increased flooding. We’ll find that out.”

“What has to happen,” Gerdeman said a little earlier in the evening’s conversation, “Is at the end of the day, when [Rampe is] done moving dirt, there will be another site survey done. [This] will get sent to ODNR (which granted tacit approval to the original dirt moving plan). If they determine that he’s filled-in where he shouldn’t, we, being the village, will force him to move dirt out of the floodplain.”

In citing the floodplain ordinance, the neighbor specifically requested a cease and desist order be issued to pause the development until it can be confirmed that Rampe is in full compliance. This request was denied, prompting the neighbor to leave the meeting in anger, not unlike Rampe’s exit back in March.

The ordinance in question OVERSET FOLLOWS:is similar to one passed by communities throughout the nation. Much of the language was provided by federal governing bodies. Its intent is to form a legal basis for homes and business within the floodplain to access low cost flood insurance through FEMA.

Every community is different, and latitude is often granted in interpreting rules so long as the spirit of those rules remain intact and enforced.

In this case, that means that Rampe’s development cannot increase the likelihood of flooding for its neighbors. Gerdeman insists that, once Rampe is finished moving his dirt, a survey will be conducted to ensure that this is the case, and if not, that action will be taken.

“I think we’ve done nothing but try to protect your properties with what we’ve told the contractor,” said Gerdeman to the neighbor just before she left. “I’m trying to protect your interest. I’m trying to make it so the developer can develop. I know there’s not a lot of trust going on here, back and forth. All I can say is, I’m going to do my best to make sure that everybody is protected at the end of the day.”