N.J. advances means to condemn flood-prone property

The New Jersey Assembly has passed legislation allowing towns to use open-space money to buy flood-prone properties.

Assemblywoman Connie Wagner, who says hundreds of homes in her district were destroyed in flooding caused by Hurricane Irene, said Monday the measure gives towns an option to help people whose homes are repeatedly inundated.

“We never should have built in some of these areas. We know that, but in the ’50s, no one knew. And people did build there,” Wagner said. “Now we cannot rectify this situation except to say we’re going to give you that ability to sell, get out, knock it down, and let it return to its natural habitat.”

Wagner said it may take years for towns to accumulate the money to buy swaths of homes and turn the land into buffers to prevent further flood damage.

While it may be a long proves, Assemblyman Vincent Prieto said it will be a great benefit to residents who suffer financial and emotional harm from repeated flooding.

“There is a need to be able to take properties that are problematic and people can’t keep getting flooded all the time. Year after year these people are suffering, and we just need to give them some type of relief,” he said.

It’s unclear when the state Senate will vote on the legislation.

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