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Sen. Whelan Asks Gov. Christie to Reconsider FEMA Maps

Christie announced the maps would be adopted to help business owners and residents rebuild.

Sen. Jim Whelan has asked Gov. Chris Christie to reconsider adoption of building codes based on preliminary Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) maps in a letter dated Jan. 28, 2013.

Christie announced on Jan. 24 the state would adopt FEMA’s Advisory Base Flood Elevation maps in an effort to make it possible for residents and business owners to build along the Jersey Shore. The and recommend that residents in flood zones in 10 counties and 194 communities raise their homes on average between 1 and 5 feet.

The adoption covers only shore towns, while the rest of the state remains under guidelines established in 1980.

FEMA is expected to adopt the advisory maps within the next 18-24 months, and Christie says that adopting the maps at the state level will alleviate some of the pressure on municipalities to understand the maps and their impacts.

However, it is because these maps are still at the advisory level, and have not officially been adopted, that Whelan has asked Christie to reconsider their adoption at this time. He said mayors and other officials of shore towns are concerned with the issue.

“For example, the proposed maps do not include factors such as dunes and bulkheads, which, if included, could change building standards significantly,” Whelan wrote in his letter. “The impact of adopting these most stringent standards will be devastating for many home- owners who will not be able to afford putting their house on pilings or the astronomical flood insurance increases.”

He went on to say that local officials have told him their constituents are saying they either won’t return to their homes or will go without pilings or flood insurance if the standards are adopted.

“In either case, it depresses the property value, raising the taxes of others in the community, potentially creating a downward spiral of more abandonment and ever higher taxes,” Whelan said. “With few likely buyers, the State will have to help, including figuring out how to assess property when there are no comparable sales.”

Whelan requested a meeting with Christie and legislators, including Second District Assemblymen John Amodeo and Chris Brown, to discuss the issue.

“While I recognize the intent of your executive order, perhaps a revision to have it cover those situations where property is being entirely rebuilt, and wait until the FEMA maps are finalized for other property owners, like me, whose homes are still standing, would be more appropriate,” Whelan said.

The full text of Whelan’s letter can be found below:

January 28, 2013

 

Governor Chris Christie

State of New Jersey

P.O. Box 001

Trenton, NJ 08625

 

Dear Governor Christie,

 

         I am respectfully requesting that you reconsider your executive order regarding the adoption of the building codes based on the preliminary FEMA maps, inasmuch as these maps are advisory and are not yet finalized, subject to revision. For example, the proposed maps do not include factors such as dunes and bulkheads, which, if included, could change building standards significantly.

 

         The impact of adopting these most stringent standards will be devastating for many home- owners who will not be able to afford putting their house on pilings or the astronomical flood insurance increases.

 

         The impact will not stop there. I have already heard from local officials, as I am sure you have, that folks will either walk away or go bare, i.e. no pilings, no flood insurance. In either case, it depresses the property value, raising the taxes of others in the community, potentially creating a downward spiral of more abandonment and ever higher taxes. With few likely buyers, the State will have to help, including figuring out how to assess property when there are no comparable sales.

 

         While I recognize the intent of your executive order, perhaps a revision to have it cover those situations where property is being entirely rebuilt, and wait until the FEMA maps are finalized for other property owners, like me, whose homes are still standing, would be more appropriate.

 

         I would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you, along with other members of the Legislature, including my colleagues from the Second District, Assemblymen John Amodeo and Chris Brown, to discuss this issue. Mayors and other officials of shore towns are also extremely concerned about the impact of this executive order.

 

         Thank you for your consideration of this matter.

 

                                                            Sincerely,

 

                                                            Jim Whelan

 

 

Senator Jim Whelan

511 Tilton Rd,

Northfield, NJ 08225

609-383-1388

SenWhelan@njleg.org 

 

j massachusetts January 31, 2013 at 04:48 PM
can't help but be reminded of the katrina victims and the "disaster capitalists" who cash in on the suffering, the fact that lots of people suffered for a long time and got little help, there where lots more died and some were killed by government "assistance" police and military controls, many people left and still have not returned, some people are just beginning to return all these years later, and fema and fema contractors, insurance companies and government programs,....?....too much corruption is acceptable these days! no regulation and the government IS NOT SERVING THE POPULATION. too busy making money deals with banks and agencies. the horror stories are inexcusable and disgusting. and one reason people don't get help they need?... the media WILL NOT REPORT IT.... it's part of the scam, and this is neoliberal unregulated profit-first capitalism, elite greedy honeypot, u.s. (and world!) corruption cancer, post 911.
Mary Ann January 31, 2013 at 09:58 PM
Thank you, Sen. Whelan for reaching out to Gov. Christie. Hopefully this disasterous issue will be looked at soon by both the Governor and FEMA. We are living on our second floor still 3-months later and waiting for this mess to play out, so we can make a decision to rebuild or move. Unfortunately, there is no feasible way to raise our old house up on pilings to comply with a V-zone. We are back-bay and do not suffer wave damage here and the expense will far outweigh the value. The insurance cost will be unaffordable if we don't raise it. We face either tearing it down to rebuild if we can find financing or selling the lot if our area of Pt. Pleasant stays V. All this to comply with a needlessly excessive flood zone designation?
KHill February 04, 2013 at 04:04 PM
If your house was rezoned you can apply for a LOMA letter from FEMA , Letter Of Map Amendment online at FEMA website
Gary February 04, 2013 at 04:59 PM
Aren't the LOMA or LOMR contingent upon a "satisfactory" base flood elevation?
Spooner February 04, 2013 at 05:06 PM
You can't do that until the maps are revised and become the new flood rate maps...probably in 2014 or later.

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