Federal officials have agreed to reimburse the township for the collection of storm debris from commercial properties.
Toms River Mayor Thomas Kelaher and Ocean County officials have received word from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that their three months worth of making the request for reimbursement has been approved.
"This program will be reimbursed by FEMA, in the same manner as other storm related residential debris," reads a township statement.
Township Public Information Officer Debbi Winogracki said that, while removal of such debris was "technically" the responsibility of commercial entities, many had already paid tens of thousands of dollars for debris removal and couldn't afford to pay more.
"The township is doing everything possible to restore the beach area back to pre-Sandy conditions, and the revitalization of the businesses are essential to the restoration," Kelaher said in a statment.
According to Kelaher, FEMA has a long-standing policy of not providing reimbursements to municipalities for commercial property debris removal. The reimbursement will be made in the same way as with residential properties.
"This is unprecedented for FEMA to pay for the debris removal costs on private businesses. I’m thankful that they approved this for us because it was creating a hardship for our business owners," Kelaher said in a statement.
The debris must already have been placed curbside, in the right-of-way of the property, and inspected by FEMA to be picked up. All other commercial debris removal remains the property owner's responsibility, according to the township.
Crews were already removing commercial debris from businesses along Route 35 in Ortley Beach Thursday and are expected to finish sometime next week, according to Public Works Director Lou Amoruso.