Thursday, January 24th, 2013
The Morris County Freeholders have given final approval for the buyout of 11 residential properties in Parsippany-Troy Hills under the county’s innovative Flood Mitigation Program, which helps municipalities purchase flood-prone residential properties from willing sellers and convert them to permanently preserved open space which acts as a natural flood storage area for the community.
The freeholders’ action authorizes the release of county grant funds totaling $540,510 to provide a 25 percent match for the Hurricane Irene Hazard Mitigation grant funds received from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA’s 75 percent cost share totals $945,892 for these properties, said Jennifer McCulloch, coordinator of the Flood Mitigation Program.
The Parsippany properties are among 79 flood acquisition projects currently underway in Morris County under the Flood Mitigation Program, McCulloch said.
Parsippany received preliminary approval from the freeholders in May of 2012, at which point funds were encumbered for this project area. With this final approval, Parsippany may now proceed to closing on these properties.
Freeholder approval was based on the recommendations of the Morris County Flood Mitigation Committee, which reviewed the applications and due diligence materials provided by the municipality.
The freeholders established the Flood Mitigation Program last year in response to increased, repetitive flooding in the county, especially the excessive flooding caused by Hurricane Irene in 2011, said Freeholder Ann Grossi, the program’s liaison.
Grossi noted this is the first county-level dedicated flood mitigation program in the state.
The Flood Mitigation Program is an expansion of the Morris County Open Space, Farmland, and Historic Preservation Trust, and is funded by the county’s open space tax. It is designed to move people out of harm’s way and reduce municipal costs, while also creating permanent, sustainable flood storage areas that protect the municipality’s remaining homes and businesses.
According to McCulloch, the program is structured with two basic funding tracks.
The first is a “MATCH Program” which provides 25 percent match funding from the county for projects already underway with another agency such as FEMA, or the state’s Blue Acres Program.
The second funding track is the “CORE Program”, which is designed to catch homes that have fallen through other agency’s funding nets. In this case, Morris County will provide up to 75 percent of the acquisition cost, McCulloch said.
Grant applications are considered from municipalities only for the acquisition of residences, and lands associated with the residences, that have experienced either severe repetitive flooding or homes that have sustained over 50 percent damage from a single flood event, said McCulloch.
Costs for demolition, elevation or other non-acquisition mitigation techniques are not eligible under the county’s program.
The Flood Mitigation Program will work with willing homeowners only, with all funds going directly to the municipality, which in turn, purchases the land, holding and maintaining it as public open space in perpetuity.
Additional information is available online at www.MorrisPlanning.org, or by calling Jennifer McCulloch at the Morris County Department of Planning and Development at 973-829-8120.