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Flood relief bill advances in N.J. Legislature

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: The state Assembly has approved a measure sponsored by a group of North Jersey lawmakers that would bring relief to residents living in flood-prone areas of the state.


The bill allows municipalities to establish open space trust funds specifically for the purchase of flood-prone properties — a long-term solution similar to the federal “Green Acres” program. Local councils would have to seek voter approval first for an annual levy at a rate deemed appropriate.

“What might have been a viable property years ago isn’t necessarily the case now due to development, infrastructure and changing weather patterns,” said Bergen County Assemblywoman Connie Wagner, one of the measure’s sponsors. “It’s time to look at the bigger picture and figure out how we can address this problem moving forward.”

“Residents need more than a Band Aid,”
added Assemblywoman Valerie Vanieri-Huttle, a con-sponsor. “They need a long-term solution to help avoid flood-related damage altogether.”

“This measure would put residents in the driver’s seat to decide how they want to handle flooding issues in their town,” Prieto said. “For certain properties that consistently flood, allowing the municipality to buy up that property might be the best option.  This will provide towns with the funding mechanism to do that, should voters give it the okay.”

Under current law, municipalities are authorized to establish “Municipal Open Space, Recreation, and Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Funds.”  This bill would amend the name of these municipal open space trust funds to be “Municipal Open Space, Recreation, Floodplain Protection, and Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Funds.”

More importantly, the bill would also include “Blue Acres projects” for restoring the natural state or creating recreational areas on land that has been damaged by, or may be prone to incurring damage caused by, storms or storm-related flooding, or that may buffer or protect other lands from such damage.

The funds would be allowed to be used for the demolition of structures or the removal of debris from those properties.

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