Assembly Panel Advances Bill Creating Public Bond Referendum To Buy Flood-Prone Properties

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TRENTON – Legislation that would place a $100 million public bond referendum to fund the purchase of flood-prone properties throughout New Jersey on the ballot was advanced by an Assembly panel on Monday.

The bill (A-2930), entitled the “Blue Acres Floodplain Protection Bond Act of 2012,” would authorize the issuance of $100 million in state general obligation bonds, of which $85 million would be allocated for the acquisition of properties repeatedly prone to flooding through the state’s Blue Acres program and $15 million of which would be allocated as grants to fund home elevation. Under the bill, only single family or two family houses that are the homeowners’ primary residence would be eligible for the home elevation grants.

“Even before Sandy, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee brought what were considered historic levels of flooding,” said Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex). “Given the changing landscape of our state and the increasing intensity of storms, we need to rethink our approach, particularly during the post-Sandy rebuilding phase. If approved, this funding will be a huge relief for homeowners saddled with the burden of repeated flooding and the inability sell their home because of it.”

Under the state’s Blue Acres Program, which is administered by the Department of Environmental Protection, properties that have been damaged by, or may be prone to incurring damage caused by storms or storm-related flooding are purchased from willing sellers. Structures on acquired property are demolished, the debris is removed, and the property is preserved for recreation and conservation purposes. Funding for Blue Acres projects has been provided in the past through three different state bond acts approved by voters.

The bill provides that the bond act is to be submitted to voters for approval at the general election to be held at least 70 days after enactment of the bill.

The measure was unanimously approved by the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and now awaits consideration by the full Assembly.


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