Posted Friday, December 7th, 2012

Even as the clean up from Super Storm Sandy continues, the Morris County Flood Mitigation Program, initiated in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene last year, has made its first acquisitions.

The Morris County Freeholders have given final approval for the funding of 11 residential properties in Denville to be acquired under the county’s new Flood Mitigation Program, which helps purchase flood-prone residential properties from willing sellers and convert them to permanently preserved open space.

The innovative program is part of the Morris County Preservation Trust, which is funded by the county open space tax.

Under the terms of the Flood Mitigation Program, grant applications are considered from municipalities for the acquisition of flood-prone or flood-damaged residences, and lands associated with these residences.

Flood events that are eligible include overland water flow, slope failure/erosion, or excessive land saturation due to cumulative rainfall or snowmelt.

“As a freeholder I always have the best interests of the county at heart,” said Freeholder Ann Grossi, liaison to the Flood Mitigation Program. “That is why I and former Freeholder Gene Feyl felt compelled to find a mechanism to help our residents and those towns who were so devastated by the flooding from Hurricane Irene.

“With the consent of the freeholder board we worked along with our outstanding county employees and developed a comprehensive flood mitigation program that is now revered not only throughout the state, but also the country. That is why I am excited and humbled to be a part of helping the town and the residents of Denville as the first of many communities seeking our assistance.”

Of the 11 properties being purchased, six are being funded in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, with the county providing a 25 percent match, said Jennifer McCulloch, coordinator of the Flood Mitigation Program.

The remaining five properties did not receive FEMA disaster funding. Morris County is the majority funder of these five properties, providing 75 percent of the acquisition cost, with a 25 percent match being provided by Denville’s NJ-DEP Green Acres Planning Incentive Grant, McCulloch said.

Morris County is contributing $1.4 million of the $3.02 million overall acquisition cost for the 11 projects. The average home acquisition price is $275,000, according to McCulloch.

The municipality is required to complete demolition of the structure, which is not included in the county program, and the removal of infrastructure within 90 days of closing. Demolition costs are not covered by the county’s program, McCulloch said.

Once the land is returned to its natural state, it acts as a sustainable flood storage area and flood barrier which protects the remaining homes and business. This is important for the municipalities who no longer have to expend resources in order to respond in repetitive flooding situations.

Closings on the Denville properties began this week. They are the first flood buyout closings in Morris County in the wake of Hurricane Irene. McCulloch said there are currently 66 other flood acquisition projects underway in Morris County in Parsippany, Lincoln Park, Pequannock and Riverdale.

The Flood Mitigation Program continues to receive new applications from communities who were not approved for FEMA disaster funding in the wake of Hurricane Irene and other flooding events.

This is the first county-level, dedicated flood mitigation program in our state, McCulloch said.

Additional information is available online at, or by contacting McCulloch at the Morris County Department of Planning and Development at [email protected], or at 973-829-8120.