With great reluctance, the Barnegat Township Committee unanimously passed an ordinance adopting regulations for the purpose of adopting the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood maps at its meeting Monday night, March 18.
Township Administrator David Breeden repeatedly expressed the township’s displeasure with adopting the regulations. However, because the state already adopted the regulations and the township must abide by them, it was in the township’s best interests to adopt the regulations.
“It helps our residents qualify for financial assistance in areas such as Increased Cost of Compliance coverage.
“It can cost up to $30,000 to raise a home,” Breeden said. “If we didn’t adopt the regulations, we would still have to comply, but we wouldn’t have the benefit of financial assistance for our residents.”
Breeden assured residents in attendance at Monday night’s meeting that the township would send out a letter expressing their opposition to the flood maps based on certain residencies being placed in the “V Zone,” which brings with it tighter regulations, and a difference of opinion on how much homes need to be raised.
“They say homes need to be elevated 10, 11, 12 feet,” Breeden said. “It depends on where you are, how close to the water you are. We think more analysis needs to be done for zoning and for appropriate elevations. FEMA has indicated they are in the process of doing that.”
Breeden said the letter has not been drafted at this point. He also noted there is no formal appeal process to follow when disputing FEMA Flood Advisory Maps. They have to wait for the Flood Insurance Rating (FIR) maps to be issued in August or Septemeber to file a formal complaint, Breeden said.
“There’s been a huge outcry over the maps,” Breeden said. “A lot of people are in disagreement over the maps. We feel that if there’s such a concentrated effort, FEMA will comply.”
Despite the unanimous vote, each of the five members of the committee expressed their reluctance in approving the resolution. Committee members Martin Lisella and Elaine Taylor expressed their displeasure with public comments.
“The approval of the maps doesn’t mean the township supports or agrees. In fact, it strongly disagrees, particularly with the homes in the V-Zone,” Lisella said. “ … Victims of Hurricane Sandy are still experiencing difficulty recovering. They’re just looking for fair and equitable treatment.”
Lisella noted that victims affected by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 received more relief than the victims of Sandy.
“The people of New Jersey are just as deserving as the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast,” Lisella said.
In addition to her vocal opposition to the Flood Map regulations adoption, Taylor expressed her satisfaction with the township deciding to send a letter to the Robin Hood Foundation for financial assistance for Sandy victims.
“Robin Hood primarily focuses on poverty, but they’ve taken an active role in helping Sandy victims,” Taylor said. “They’re now assisting local governments, and Robin Hood funds will go directly to residents impacted by the storm.”
“We may apply jointly with Ocean Township,” Breeden said. “For example, if we get $100,000, every resident would get $2,000, but they wouldn’t get it in cash. They would get it in the form of a purchase order or a debit card so we know they’ll spend the money on hurricane recovery.”
Breeden said it may create a lot more paperwork for the township, but he felt it was the township’s obligation to take on the additional responsibility.
Additionally on Monday night, Township Committee passed the following Sandy-related resolutions:
- A resolution authorizing the Building Department to refund payments mistakenly paid for repairs to Sandy-damaged homes;
- A resolution requesting the federal government to reimburse township residents the entire cost of raising homes to comply with the Advisory Base Flood elevations;
- A resolution supporting the Ninth Legislative District Delegation as it seeks to identify greater means of providing assistance to those harshly impacted by the new FEMA regulations; and
- A resolution waiving various municipal fees to repair Sandy-related damage.