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Eustace & Caride Bill to Help Homeowners Protect Properties in Flood Prone Areas & Keep Flood Insurance Low Gets Final Legislative OK

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Tim Eustace and Marlene Caride sponsored to allow limited exemptions to local land use restrictions for homeowners forced to raise a structure to meet new federal flood elevation standards was approved XX-XX Monday by the Assembly, giving it final legislative approval.
“It is a catch-22 for property owners,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “You want to raise your property to meet new federal guidelines to protect your home from future flooding and avoid higher flood insurance premiums, but doing so might mean breaking land use restrictions set by your local government. The bill helps avoid this potential conflict by providing a partial exemption that would allow the property owner to raise an existing structure without violating local land use restrictions.”
“This bill aims to solve a problem faced by many homeowners after Sandy – raising a structure to a new and appropriate elevation may violate development regulations, such as a maximum height restriction or a setback restriction,” said Caride (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This is an unfair dilemma for homeowners, many of whom have already been hit hard by Sandy, so a limited exemption is quite simply the reasonable thing to do.”
The bill (A-3890) would provide a person with a limited exemption from any development regulation when raising certain structures to meet state or federal flood elevation standards.
The exemption would be available only to the extent that raising the structure, or constructing a staircase or other attendant structure necessitated by such raising, would otherwise result in a violation of the development regulation.
A person would also be exempt from any requirement to apply for a variance from a development regulation for such purposes. The exemption would be available for raising any structure that existed on Oct. 28, 2012, or for using a raised elevation when lawfully repairing or reconstructing a structure damaged by Hurricane Sandy.
In particular, the exemption would allow a person to raise the structure to a “new and appropriate elevation.”
The bill provides that the new and appropriate elevation, to which a structure may be raised in keeping with the exemption, shall not exceed the “highest applicable flood elevation standard,” which is defined in the bill to be the higher of two standards:
· The new Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) base flood elevation plus three additional feet, or
· Any applicable flood elevation standard required pursuant to rules and regulations adopted by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) pursuant to the “Flood Hazard Area Control Act.”
The term “new FEMA base flood elevation” is defined in the bill to mean any base flood elevation proposed or adopted after Oct. 28, 2012, by FEMA. A base flood elevation, as calculated by FEMA, represents the elevation of a flood with a 1 percent chance of occurrence during any given year, commonly referred to as a “100-year flood.” A structure that is not elevated to the applicable FEMA-issued base flood elevation for its location is subject to a higher flood insurance premium under the National Flood Insurance Program.
The bill now goes to the governor.