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Westwood Waiting on State Money For Home Buyouts

The Green Acres program pledged to pay about $500,000 for the borough to purchase flood-prone homes in addition to $1.5 million from FEMA.

Plans to purchase several flood-prone homes in Westwood are on hold until the borough receives $500,000 promised by the state's Green Acres program. The money is currently being held up pending approval from legislative committees, according to borough officials.

After Hurricane Irene caused in Westwood, FEMA promised to pay about to the borough for voluntary home buyouts. New Jersey's Green Acres program pledged about $500,000 for the plan, but the money still needs to be earmarked by the state. The combined total of $2,068,057 will be used to purchase up to nine homes, which will then be demolished.

The Westwood Council had been scheduled to pass a resolution Tuesday which would authorize the execution of the contract with FEMA, but council members said they did not want the borough to get stuck with the bill if the state money is late or never comes.

"It's too expensive to be done wrong," Councilman Peter Grefrath said.

Officials said they do still expect the state to follow through with the Green Acres money, but they will reach out to Westwood's state representatives for help expediting the process.

"Our goal is to have the funding in place," Mayor John Birkner said.

Once the borough has the money, appraisals and title searches will have to be performed for the flood-prone homes of residents who have expressed interest in selling.

FEMA set aside $21 million for flood mitigation projects in the state and New Jersey pledged another $7 million in support after Hurricane Irene hit the state last August.

Westwoodian since '91 April 08, 2012 at 04:23 PM
A couple of million for 9 houses? Wow. Not exactly a great deal. I think home owners were hoping for "fair market value."
Joseph Rivers April 13, 2012 at 12:36 AM
Residents of the flood prone areas in Westwood and other surrounding communities are in desperate need of funding for this and future HMG buyouts! Flooding continues to be a serious threat to residents, rescue personnel, and property values. Over the years it's become more widespread, frequent and severe in nature. The delays in this process are putting lives at risk. Information from Asw Schepisi's Office on 2/29/12 indicated that NJDEP Green Acres is indeed committed to the use of "Preservation Trust Dollars" for the 25% matching funds. Further information from Asw Schepisi's office on 4/5/12 " According to Senator Sarlo’s office (the Senator is a member of the Joint Budget Oversight Committee), the Committee has received all of the information that they were waiting for from the Department of the Treasury, and the next JBOC meeting will be scheduled within the next two weeks. Further, they expect the matching funds to be released before the end of April. I appreciate and ask for the continued efforts of the WW Mayor, Council, Asw Schepisi, Asm Schroeder, and Senator Cardinale.
Kelly Van Rijn April 17, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Keep in mind, the state isn't buying those homes- the taxpayer is. You have to ask, at what point is the homeowner responsible for buying a home in a flood plain?

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