New Law Clears Red Tape For Rebuilding Homeowners

TRENTON – Legislation to  relieve homeowners from local land use restrictions if they are required by FEMA to raise their homes was signed into law today.

“This legislation will have a real impact on property owners who have already been negatively affected by Hurricane Sandy, by eliminating much of the red tape that keeps them from adhering to new FEMA guidelines,” said state Sen. Bob Smith, (D-Middlesex and Somerset), a sponsor of the bill. “By allowing property owners to rebuild at higher elevation without going through the local planning and zoning process, we can save property owners time and thousands of dollars in application, escrow and attorney fees.”

The law, S-2598, allows homeowners or businesses who must raise an existing structure due to the new Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) base flood elevation to be exempted from any local land use restrictions that may be currently in place.

FEMA recently released new flood elevation maps determining the likelihood that a structure will endure a 100-year flood in the future. With these new maps, many property owners will be required to raise their homes or incur huge increases in flood insurance costs – in some areas reaching $31,000 per year. This legislation will assist property owners in following these new regulations.

The law was unanimously approved by both houses of the Legislature in June. The law takes effect immediately.

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