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Posted Friday, June 12th, 2020

Freeholders Approved Grants — Innovative Program Has Purchased 78 Flood-Threatened Homes

Morris County’s innovative flood mitigation program has preserved two more flood-prone Lincoln Park properties, using money from a voter-approved county preservation trust fund to purchase the flood-threatened homes and permanently restore the properties to open space.

Freeholder Stephen Shaw

Freeholder Stephen Shaw

It marks a total of 78 county flood buyout grants for home purchases across Morris County under the county’s innovative mitigation program, which has allocated $8.8 million to help fund buyouts in seven Morris County towns. The county program works in coordination with state and federal flood buyout programs.

“This first-of-its-kind county program in New Jersey helps get county residents out of harm’s way in places likely to be struck by future floods,’’ said Morris County Freeholder Stephen Shaw, who is the county governing board’s liaison on preservation issues.

“The buyouts also ease the burden of first responders, who get the call to rescue families from flood waters, and it helps protect nearby homes and businesses from subsequent flooding.’’

The two latest purchases, in May and earlier this month, from willing sellers in Lincoln Park were partially financed by $258,000 in county grants. The homes eventually will be demolished and the properties will revert back to open space that can capture and absorb flood water.

Areas of Lincoln Park, which has received the most county grants, at 26, have long been subject to chronic Pompton River flooding. In addition to Lincoln Park, the county has provided grant funding for flood buyouts in Boonton, Denville, Long Hill, Morristown, Parsippany, Pequannock and Riverdale.

The Freeholder Board established the Flood Mitigation Program in 2012, following the devastation caused by Hurricane Irene, to deal with repetitive flooding issues. It is an expansion of the Morris County Open Space, Farmland, and Historic Preservation Trust, and is funded by the county’s open space tax.

According to Virginia Michelin, coordinator of the Flood Mitigation Program, the program is structured with two basic funding tracks:

  • The Match Program offers up to a 25 percent county match to state and federal buyouts.
  • The CORE Program is designed to catch homes that have fallen through other agency’s funding nets, with Morris County providing up to 75 percent of the acquisition cost (four recent grants approved by the freeholders are in that category).
    photo shows One of the Lincoln Park homes sitting in flood-prone area

    Recently purchased Lincoln Park home. It will be demolished, with land returned to natural state

The two recent purchases occurred through the CORE Program.

Morris County’s mitigation program supplements state and federal flood buyouts. It helps towns secure flood-prone properties from willing sellers and convert the sites to permanently preserved open space, which captures and absorbs floodwater.

Additionally, these acquisitions lower municipal costs. Every project is subject to a detailed benefit-cost analysis based on FEMA computer models. On average, for every $1 spent by the county of flood mitigation, there have been $7 in benefits to the participating towns and county.

Grant applications are considered from municipalities on behalf of willing sellers. All county funds go directly to municipalities, which purchase the properties and must maintain the land as public open space in perpetuity.

Additional information is available at https://planning.morriscountynj.gov/flood/ or by calling 973-829-8120.