Stafford Township Council last night unanimously adopted a resolution to participate in the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.
According to FEMA, the program was established to “present a critical opportunity to reduce the risk of individuals and property from natural disasters while simultaneously reducing reliance on federal disaster funds.”
The funds will be granted to the state, which will then distribute them to local governments and eventually to those who applied in those municipalities, said Administrator James Moran while explaining the procedure to apply.
Applicants must file a notarized letter of intent and an agreement of terms document with the township by Feb. 10th, said Moran, who added the township must have all applications turned in to the state by Feb. 15th.
“We needed to run the documents past our attorney to make sure we were in full compliance with FEMA regulations and that they explained the responsibilities and obligations an applicant was agreeing to by filing,” said Moran, addressing the short timeframe after the meeting. In addition, the township’s participation needed to be enacted by formal council action and the meeting was the first opportunity to do so, he added.
In addition to these documents, applicants must also provide a detailed description of the proposed mitigation measures, - such as raising a home - estimated costs and any other supporting information that may assist the grant reviewer.
“Applying does not guarantee you get a grant,” said Moran. He pointed out that the funds are very limited and will be distributed to all areas affected by Sandy. For example, Moran said, after Hurricane Irene last year, one New Jersey town had more than 220 applicants and only 20 grants were awarded.
Grants can be applied even if homeowners are eleigible for ICC (Incresed Cost of Compliance) fund through their flood insurance policies, he added.
Applicants who are awarded a grant will be responsible for 25% or more of the cost of the mitigation and those funds may be put in escrow with the township upon receipt of the grant, said Moran.
The agreement letter, which is based on FEMA regulations, calls for all applicants to insure their property will be repaired or rebuilt in full compliance with Stafford Township’s building ordinances, as well as the state’s Uniform Construction Code and current FEMA Flood Zone Requirements.
The grant funds can not be used for administrative fees or construction costs associated to the mitigation such as running new electrical and plumbing service to a house that is being raised, said Moran.
The township will grant a temporary Certificate of Occupancy for six months to all applicants, said Moran. Should a property not be in full compliance with all regulations, regardless of getting a grant or not, within six months the CO will be revoked, according to the terms of the agreement.
The application and letter are now available in the township administrator’s and construction offices and are going up on the township’s website, said Moran.
At least three island municipalties, Beach Haven, Ship Bottom and Long Beach Township have already annouced plans to also participate in the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. Residents and homeowners in these locations should check with their municipalities or visit their Web sites for more information.