Council waives permit fees on storm-related repairs

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SOMERS POINT – Following the lead of other area municipalities, Somers Point City Council passed a resolution last week waiving construction permit fees for properties damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

Examples of storm-related work that requires a construction permit includes any repair or alteration to a structural member such as a footing, foundation, column, beam or frame; replacement of subflooring, drywall, roofing and siding; or the replacement of a boiler, warm air furnace, air-conditioning units, condensing units, and electric baseboard units.

Councilman Dennis Tapp said the resolution waiving the permit fees is necessary to relieve the financial burden on residents already dealing with the cost of repairs.

“If you have a $5,000 deductible and you need to get a new heater, you’re already in the hole,” Tapp said. “I could see where a homeowner could really be behind the eight-ball coming into the process of trying to get permits, so I think this is really the least we can do for our residents here.”

Council President Sean McGuigan said, “it becomes more and more apparent as the days go by how devastating this storm was to this city and the region at large, so anything we can do to alleviate the situation is very important.”

Council also approved a budget appropriation transfer of $98,000 to allow the city to meet its end-of-the-year payroll and absorb some of the labor costs associated with the storm cleanup.

Council had earlier approved a $1.3 million emergency appropriation to address construction costs at the heavily damaged municipal beach, New Jersey Avenue fishing pier, and Kennedy Park.

The city expects to be reimbursed by FEMA and insurance coverage up to 75 percent of the total construction costs, according to city Administrator Wes Swain, since most of the construction will mirror the original blueprints.

The balance of approximately $300,000 would be paid over five years, Swain said.

“We anticipate getting our claim into (FEMA) before the end of the year, and to get reimbursed by the end of the first quarter of 2013,” Swain said.

The storm also had an impact on the Somers Point School District school schedule. The city’s three schools, which were delayed in opening in September because of a mold remediation problem, will stay open until June 19 with no early dismissals.

The school district’s spring break has also been reduced, with only two full days closed – March 29 and April 1 – and an early dismissal on March 28.

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