FEMA regulations need grandfather clause

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To the editor:

By this time we all know that Governor Christie’s executive order adopting the new FEMA maps could have a devastating financial effect on properties in proximity to the bay and the ocean. Overall, the public accepts raising homes to higher elevations for new and substantially renovated or damaged homes. However, there is no provision for grandfathering existing buildings built in compliance to previous elevations.

In all fairness, the government should exempt any existing house that was in compliance at the time it was constructed and did not suffer substantial damage. If no insurance claim, then there should be no increase in flood insurance costs.

Clearly, doing otherwise would be a financial hardship for the middle class and those on fixed incomes given there is inadequate funding to bring houses up to desired elevations. Why are people who didn’t sustain damage being penalized? Further, it is my understanding that we cannot raise current masonry construction in the V zones. The proposals suggest demolishing foundations and putting the homes on pilings. Many masonry foundation homes may not be put on pilings, as they may have to be substantially modified or demolished. Demolition means loss of ratables, which adversely affects all taxpayers.

And we need a common sense suggestion to make flood insurance more affordable in the wake of the huge premium hikes being proffered post-Sandy. Why not provide homeowners with the option for reducing insurance premiums if they opt for higher deductibles? A provision could increase the deductible to $5,000 or $10,000 but still keep the $250,000 cap ceiling. The current deductable is $1,000. Don’t we give our citizens this option when they purchase homeowners or car insurance?

Lastly, if the grandfather provision is not implemented, then extend the period from four years to 10 years for elevation compliance. This is clearly another common sense proposal. Should FEMA represent there is an urgency to comply within the four-year window, my response would be if there was such urgency, then why has it been 30 years since the last FEMA mapping?

Mayor Nick Russo

Longport

      


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