CHRISTIE ADMINISTRATION KICKS OFF BLUE ACRES BUYOUT PROCESS
IN BAY POINT SECTION OF CUMBERLAND COUNTY’S LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP
(14/P63) TRENTON – The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is holding a kick-off meeting tonight with property owners in the Bay Point section of Cumberland County’s Lawrence Township who have applied for the state’s Blue Acres acquisition program to guide them through the process of having their homes bought out.
A total of 44 properties in the Bay Point section of Lawrence Township – 33 with structures and 11 vacant – have been identified for potential buyouts as part of a $10.2 million project to convert the area to open space that will provide wildlife habitat along Delaware Bay and buffers against flooding.
The meeting at the Cedarville Fire Department, open to invited property owners only, will provide information about the benefits of the Blue Acres Program, a willing-seller program that is buying out some 1,000 homes in Sandy-affected communities as well as 300 homes in other parts of the state including the Passaic River Basin.
“Bay Point sustained extensive damage from Sandy,” DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said. “This is a very difficult decision for property owners to make, but it will move them out of harm’s way and give them a chance to start their lives over in a much safer place. Interest in the community and at the local government has been very high.”
The project, announced last year, is jointly funded by DEP’s Green Acres Program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The DEP and FEMA will also each contribute to the $2.5 million ecological restoration of the properties.
Blue Acres also has secured funding for buyouts in East Brunswick and Newark. It is also looking at 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.
In addition to houses being devastated by Sandy’s record storm surge, the one access road to the properties continues to flood. After acquisition, structures will be demolished and the area will become part of a Wildlife Management Area operated by the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife.
The DEP is committed to making the process as painless as possible and will assign a case worker to guide each applicant through this process.
The Christie Administration has made acquisitions of areas that are repeatedly flooded a cornerstone of its Sandy recovery efforts. The Administration’s $300 million Sandy buyout program is purchasing damaged homes at pre-Sandy market values to provide residents with financial resources needed to relocate to residences in less flood-prone areas.
Blue Acres has been active in Sayreville, South River and Woodbridge, Middlesex County municipalities that sustained significant flooding when Sandy’s storm surge pushed from Raritan Bay and into the South River. So far, 193 property owners have accepted DEP buyout offers in Sayreville and South River. Blue Acres has closed on 120 of those homes. Offers have also been accepted for 45 homes in Woodbridge.