TRENTON –The full Assembly approved a measure on Monday that is intended to help provide towns with a long-term solution to ward off future flooding problems.
The bill (A-4267), approved by a vote of 79-0, mirrors a similar “Green Acres” measure instituted by various local governments wherein municipalities would be allowed to establish municipal open space trust funds specifically for the purchase of flood-prone properties. In order to establish such a fund, local governing bodies would have to seek voter approval for an annual levy at a rate deemed appropriate.
“This measure would put residents in the driver’s seat to decide how they want to handle flooding issues in their town,” said Assemblyman Vincent Prieto (D-Bergen/Hudson). “For certain properties that consistently flood, allowing the municipality to buy up that property might be the best option. This will provide towns with the funding mechanism to do that, should voters give it the okay.”
Under current law, municipalities are authorized to establish “Municipal Open Space, Recreation, and Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Funds.” This bill would amend the name of these municipal open space trust funds to be “Municipal Open Space, Recreation, Floodplain Protection, and Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Funds.”
In doing so, the bill would expand this authorization to specifically include “Blue Acres projects,” which are any projects acquired for recreation or conservation purposes on land that has been damaged by, or may be prone to incurring damage caused by, storms or storm-related flooding, or that may buffer or protect other lands from such damage. The funds would be allowed to be used for the demolition of structures or the removal of debris from such properties and the restoration of those lands to a natural state or to a state useful for recreation and conservation purposes.
“Middlesex County, like many parts of the state, has been struggling to deal with flood-prone properties for years,” said Assemblyman Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “It’s time we give towns and residents the tools to help address this problem based on their unique needs.”
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