Two years after Hurricane Irene and a year after Superstorm Sandy, the township continues to buy out houses in the floodplain.
The town has applied to the state Department of Environmental Protection for funding to acquire 115 properties in flood-prone neighborhoods.
“The acquisition mitigation removes persons and property from harms way,” said Sandy Galacio, the town’s director of emergency management.
Once properties are purchased the houses are demolished and the land is returned to nature.
“As a benefit, acquisition provides for additional watershed absorption in the floodplain,” Galacio said.
Since 2006, 161 properties have been purchased, 90 of those in the past two years, with $45 million in federal and state grants; 93 of the homes are located in the Hoffman Grove section of town. Hoffman Grove is often the first neighborhood to flood and the last to dry out.
The town could be exempt from paying county and school taxes on the acquired properties if the state Senate approves a bill.
Currently, municipalities that acquire a flood-prone property after Oct. 1 must pay the county and school taxes on the property for all or the remainder of the following tax year.
The state Assembly approved the legislation in March. The Senate and Governor Christie must also approve it before it becomes law.
Assemblyman Scott Rumana (District 40) is one of the legislation’s sponsors.
“This legislation will encourage towns that chronically deal with flood-prone areas to acquire these properties without incurring an immediate tax liability,” Rumana said in a statement issued when the legislation was introduced.