CHRISTIE ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES THE STATE PASSES THE 100 MARK
ON POST-SANDY HOME BUYOUTS
NEARLY 230 OFFERS ACCEPTED SO FAR IN SOUTH RIVER AND SAYREVILLE
908 PROPERTIES STATEWIDE IDENTIFIED FOR ACQUISITION
(14/P52) TRENTON – The Superstorm Sandy Blue Acres Program has completed 107 closings on Sandy-damaged homes in Sayreville and South River, and is moving towards the first home purchases this spring and early summer in Woodbridge, East Brunswick and Newark, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin announced today.
So far, the DEP has identified 908 properties for buyouts in 11 municipalities, with offers made to 364 homeowners and 226 already accepting DEP buyout offers, and 107 closings completed, in areas that sustained major flooding from Sandy’s storm surge.
The Blue Acres Superstorm Sandy Program will hold a community kickoff meeting in June to launch the buyout process in Lawrence Township in Cumberland County, and also is considering potential buyouts in Atlantic Highlands, Linden, Old Bridge, Manville, plus other sections of Sayreville and South River, and has engaged in dialogue with residents and officials in other communities. Some Passaic River Basin properties also will be considered for buyouts.
“This closing marks a significant milestone in the progress of the Christie Administration’s pledge to move residents in severely storm damaged communities out of harm’s way and to give them a chance to restore their lives, while creating flood buffers and permanent open space to deal with future storms in these communities,’’ said Commissioner Martin. “We remain committed to helping these people get through the buyout process so they can move on with their lives as quickly as possible.’’
The 100th closing was for a home on Weber Avenue in Sayreville at a fair market value price of $273,128.
Launched by the Christie Administration in April, 2013, the state’s $300 million buyout program will purchase some 1,300 damaged homes at pre-Sandy market values to provide residents with financial resources needed to relocate to residences in less flood-prone areas.
So far, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Grant Program has approved more than $100 million, which has been processed through the state Office of Emergency Management, toward the purchase of homes in Sayreville, Woodbridge, and South River. State Blue Acres dollars and federal Natural Resource Conservation Service funding also will be used to buy homes in Newark, East Brunswick and Lawrence Township.
Additional federal funding to acquire other properties impacted by Superstorm Sandy will be provided through the $1.46 billion second round of federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Disaster Recovery funds allocated to New Jersey by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The DEP’s Blue Acres team recently held a community kickoff meeting in Woodbridge for a second round of buyouts in that Middlesex County town, and will meet with property owners in mid-June to start the buyout process in Lawrence Township.
The DEP has created a special post-Sandy Blue Acres team to work closely with willing sellers and process their buyout applications as quickly as possible. Case managers are working with individual homeowners personally to help personally guide them through the process.
“From beginning to end, I thought buyout process was handled quite well, especially considering the magnitude of the Blue Acres Program. I thought it was a remarkable process,” said Jim Hutchison, whose Washington Street home was purchased through the Blue Acres Program.
Hutchison and his wife, Teresa, lauded their DEP case manager, Carlton Bergman, for his hands-on approach to helping them through the process, saying, “He kept us informed every step of the way and was a very good ambassador for the program.”
Launched in 1995, the initial Blue Acres Program targeted purchases of lands in floodways in the Delaware, Passaic and Raritan river basins, but was later expanded to include all state waters. Eligible properties are those that have been storm damaged, that are prone to incurring storm damage, or that may buffer or protect other lands from such damage.
Homeowners interested in selling their homes through this process may contact the DEP’s Blue Acres Program at 609-984-0500.
For more information on the Blue Acres Program, visit: www.state.nj.us/dep/greenacres/blue_flood_ac.html
For information on Sandy Recovery, visit: www.state.nj.us/dep/special/hurricane-sandy/