Written by Senator Jim Whelan Tuesday, January 29, 2013 01:52 pm
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The following is a copy of a Jan. 28 letter to Gov. Chris Christie:
I am respectfully requesting that you reconsider your executive order regarding the adoption of the building codes based on the preliminary FEMA maps, inasmuch as these maps are advisory and are not yet finalized, subject to revision. For example, the proposed maps do not include factors such as dunes and bulkheads, which, if included, could change building standards significantly.
The impact of adopting these most stringent standards will be devastating for many homeowners who will not be able to afford putting their house on pilings or the astronomical flood insurance increases.
The impact will not stop there. I have already heard from local officials, as I am sure you have, that folks will either walk away or go bare, i.e. no pilings, no flood insurance. In either case, it depresses the property value, raising the taxes of others in the community, potentially creating a downward spiral of more abandonment and ever higher taxes. With few likely buyers, the state will have to help, including figuring out how to assess property when there are no comparable sales.
While I recognize the intent of your executive order, perhaps a revision to have it cover those situations where property is being entirely rebuilt would be more appropriate, along with waiting until the FEMA maps are finalized for other property owners, like me, whose homes are still standing.
I would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you, along with other members of the Legislature, including my colleagues from the 2nd District, Assemblymen John Amodeo and Chris Brown, to discuss this issue. Mayors and other officials of shore towns are also extremely concerned about the impact of this executive order.
Thank you for your consideration of this matter.
Senator Jim Whelan
Senator, 2nd District