Bill To Offer Relief To Repeated Flood Victims Becomes Law

TRENTON – A measure aimed at bringing relief to towns and homeowners besieged by record flooding was signed into law on Monday.

The bill (A-4267) 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.

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), a sponsor of the legislation. “It’s time we give towns and residents the tools to help address this problem based on their unique needs.”

The measure had been approved 79-0 by the Assembly and 37-0 by the Senate.

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