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Ordinance Creating Variance Process for Flood Map Appeals Approved by Planners

But granting of variances could jeopardize township participation in insurance program

Planning Board members have given their approval to a proposed ordinance that creates a variance process for property owners who want to contest their Advisory Base Flood Elevation status. 

The proposed ordinance, which now must be adopted by the Township Council, establishes that the Planning Board would function as an appeals body for that process. But obtaining a variance is expected to be difficult, according to Assistant Township Planner Erika Stahl.

"Any variance that may be granted by the board would impact our National Flood Insurance Program participation. So we would have to be very, very careful with what variances are granted. That will be something you guys will have to consider," she told the board last week.

The township is required by the National Flood Insurance Program to develop this ordinance to remain in its good standing. A similar ordinance is already on the books, but does not include a variance procedure, Stahl said.

It appeared as though board members would not be able to have much leeway in the amount of variances they can grant. 

"If you give too many waivers, [federal officials] are going to ask — because you're supposed to be enforcing those elevations," Stahl said.

The advisory flood maps were adopted by the state in January, but township officials have expressed concerns that they are inaccurate. 

The Township Council would like to adopt the ordinance — which is expected to have its first reading during the body's Monday meeting, 6 p.m. at town hall — by Feb. 26, according to the Planning Board.

Board Attorney Greg McGuckin said that the Planning Board's responsibility was to review the proposed ordinance to ensure that it is consistent with the township's master plan.

The master plan does state that the township should comply with flood plain management, so the ordinance is consistent with that document, Stahl said.

Once adopted by the council, the next step will be to determine how the variance procedure will operate, McGuckin said.

The township is developing policies regarding the height restrictions for structures that need to be raised, but for now those property owners would have to appear before the Zoning Board.

McGuckin said that property owners should not expect any trouble obtaining a variance to exceed a height limit if they must raise their structures beyond what is allowed by township code. 

"Clearly, they've established a hardship," he said. A forthcoming township ordinance is expected to address the issue further.

Andrew Heilbroun February 11, 2013 at 01:18 PM
Martin, you are in the same situation as many other people out there that cannot move your home once you have lifted it for pile installation, your only option is to use helical piles.
Rich Wieland February 11, 2013 at 01:24 PM
This is a "must-read" ==> http://www.app.com/article/20130210/NJNEWS2001/302110004/Watchdog-New-flood-rates-could-effectively-evict-homeowners?nclick_check=1 ",,,the issue of flood insurance premiums has suddenly become a major factor for people looking for homes."
Rich Wieland February 11, 2013 at 01:33 PM
"As FEMA points out, everyone lives in a flood zone. So even if people own homes outright, are not required to elevate their homes and decide against buying flood insurance, the question of high flood insurance premiums will rear its head for potential buyers." Read today's Press article in the link above!
1stcav February 11, 2013 at 01:49 PM
Most are NOW between that rock and a hard place thanks to TR, OC the rich, FEMA , NFIP and can we get a few more against blue collar workers who payed their taxers, ins. for 30-40yrs to be told...leave it all and move...YOU have NO choice...we want our view and you off OUR beaches.....WWJD...get in his boat and leave..I guess..wave goodbye to all on shore , best wishes... overwhelmed & doomed all at once..
Angelo Turello February 11, 2013 at 02:44 PM
Once they figure out how to make money on the process, it will speed to approval.
tuna stick February 11, 2013 at 02:54 PM
The prupose of this ordinance, if I read between the lines correctly, is only to grant a variance to homeowners that have raised their houses in the past, but still need to raise them more to meet the new ABFE. Since most of the houses that have been already raised are just under the height limits, raising them again will exceed the prior limits. All this variance will do is allow those height limits to be exceeded so you do not have to cut off the top of your house (how nice). In no way, shape, or form, will anyone be granted a variance to NOT raise their houses. They included that language in the proposal to sound like their are on your side......they are not.
Chief Wahoo February 11, 2013 at 03:08 PM
Only cash buyers will be able to purchase your house = The value of the property is dropping as we speak
Irina February 11, 2013 at 03:37 PM
Why don't you direct your anger where it belongs.....FEMA....Who is un by an Obama appointee. Funny how all these Obama lovers refuse to admit, their leader's appointees are the ones screwing them. NOT TR, NOT The OC rich, NOT CC.....
Irina February 11, 2013 at 03:46 PM
The sin of the whole thing is TR is feverishy pushing OB to sign easements BUT the filthy rich in Bay Head and Mantoloking are not being pushed. I think they should be pushing all equally to get those easements signed so the rest of us don't drown.
Chief Wahoo February 11, 2013 at 03:49 PM
there is no red team vs. blue team.......its all a big show.....until you and most others realize this, you have no chance.......Obama, Bush no difference......Corzine, Christie no difference
Angelo Turello February 11, 2013 at 04:18 PM
Im trying real hard to understand the thinking in Toms River. They get 30% of their tax revenue from the barrier island. Their township engineer is petitioning FEMA to make Ortley Beach a V zone even where it is A zone. The property values in Ortley will go down, the taxes paid to Toms River will go down because of reduced property values based on the V zone. Is there a psychiatrist on this blog that can help me understand how these people think (or if they do)?
ortleysmellslikebunker February 11, 2013 at 07:10 PM
Breaking news.....Christie and a fema rep on jay leno,who can eat a bowl of dicks faster
taxed-out-the-wazoo February 11, 2013 at 07:12 PM
The knit-wits in charge, including you Gov, should be advocating AGAINST the higher premiums not campaigning for it. How dare you, officials, publically decrease our property values and limit our buyers. This is a one-time occurrence. The data does not exist to prove otherwise. So, we should not be penalized for such. Do your homework? There have been MULTIPLE catastrophic hurricanes, weather events, in other areas of the country...i.e., FL, LA, TX (Galvaston has been hit with several catastrophic hurricanes), NC, MA, MS, CA (mudslides, fires, earthquakes), etc...to name a few. The insurance premiums in these areas did not increase to the extent these officials are CLAIMING they will increase in ours. Isn't it their job to PROTECT and ADVOCATE on our behalf....so....DO IT! Let's get all of them out this upcoming election and next. This is why the federal government should be running this show. While they are not perfect, they have experience in getting areas back in shape and some better than before. AND, no one from their group would be on Letterman telling the world (in between bites of the donut) that our premiums are going to skyrocket. What an absolute disgrace! Stop being media hounds all of you...you should NOT be scrapbooking your frivilous media articles at our expense. Take a page from Lavalette or Mantaloking, BayHead....shut it down with the media and advocate for us...ALL of us (not just your mainland friends).
Sam February 11, 2013 at 07:25 PM
Chief Wahoo is right!!! keep the people arguing among themselves and they will accomplish nothing! It must be we the people against FEMA! Go to www.facebook.com/StopFemaNow. or www.petitions.whitehouse.gov. sign the pet ion write or call your representatives! Get Moving!!!!! Get organized!! There is power in numbers!! We love where we live! SAVE THE SHORE!!!!
taxed-out-the-wazoo February 11, 2013 at 07:29 PM
Agreed. I don't get it either. The Township Engineer probably lives on the mainland...near the bay. Anyway, I agree with you...very short-sighted as in sacrificing the barrier island....their taxes will skyrocket. Quite frankly, ALL of the officials should be taking the position that there is NO data to support a regular occurance of this magnititude. This is a one-time event. However, the officials would prefer to sacrifice the barrier island against should be advocating on behalf of the money/making islanders...not trying to harm them. My area did NOT get wave action. Damage resulted from not having access to property for 3 fricking weeks while it became a large humidor. We have video and are providing it to FEMA to support this. And, had the dunes been built properly (not making larger JUST before the storm and leaving open the access btw - but actually BUILDING THEM PROPERLY) then maybe some of the damage would have been lessened. When you can walk on the boardwalk and see OVER the dunes...they are not property built. They are for photo moments only. And, had the dredging of the bay occurred on a regular basis (not after houses, cars, etc. wash into them) as the lost beach, etc. was going into it each and every year....then the water MAY not have washed back from the bay into the streets. Also, continuing evidence - sewer system that is being rebuilt in areas where the streets remain...not Sandy...but a lack of maintenance. Hmmmm.
taxed-out-the-wazoo February 11, 2013 at 07:35 PM
Disagree. Obviously you don't know...the State is running this show. The State won't let the Feds take over. They want control (hence the continued screw-ups). Not saying FEMA would be perfect, but they have experience in natural diseasters and getting areas up and running. It's a power struggle at our expense (figuratively and literally).
taxed-out-the-wazoo February 11, 2013 at 07:54 PM
Let's SAVE THE SHORE (as noted by Sam above)....Let's join Lavalette or Seaside Park....clearly we need a government on the island that will advocate on our behalf, including AGAINST higher premiums for a one-time occurrence. Surely we can bring this to a judge who will see that the mainland has no regard for the islanders. This is MUCH bigger than forgetting to plow snow from a few streets, etc. (which allowed for several streets to be released from TR Gov't and become part of Lavalette...with their property values increasing; their taxes reasonable AND most of their community still intact). Nirvana!
Karen Inserra February 11, 2013 at 09:10 PM
Is everyone ready to put their houses back together spending tens of thousands of dollars assuming this is a one-time event? Will you ever rest easy in your renovated homes hearing a storm is on the way and flooding is possible if you don't elevate your houses? Everyone wants government help but no interference from government but it doesn't work that way.
Michelle Blamble February 11, 2013 at 10:22 PM
You can blame the "ocean view elite" all you want but that doesn't explain why Ortley Beach is so-called "ground zero". Fact is, Ortley Beach is mostly public beach with parking lots ocean front and had (inadequate) dunes maintained by Toms River. TR has no business pointing fingers when they didn't have good dunes on land entirely under their control.
Michelle Blamble February 11, 2013 at 10:34 PM
Karen - Yes. & I don't want gov't help I just want them out of the way. From keeping me from mitigating the damage for THREE WEEKS after the storm, to only letting me have access to my house every THREE DAYS for 1 month after that to denying me access every THREE DAYS for the month after that - Toms River has slowed me down and made the damage worse at every turn. Why would you accept anything they or other gov't "officials" tell you is necessary. They don't care about us. All we are to them are a source of money and sheep for them to dictate to (to make themselves feel important).
Libera Wartel February 11, 2013 at 10:36 PM
All barrier island communities "reporting" to Toms River should come together and secede from them and start one community. It's time to send mainland TR packing and put our hard earned tax dollars to good use in a community that will work for the residents. All TR and its officials care about is the $$ they can suck out of the residents of their barrier island communities to keep their jobs in the township and keep their taxes supplemented. TR has promised for at least 15 years that they were going to reinforce the dunes and dredge the beaches to make them bigger again and have done nothing. Perhaps things may not have been so bad in Ortley had they done these things. A great deal of what Ortley incurred with Sandy was at the hands of TR's neglect. Perhaps legal action against TR should be considered. Despite what many mainland residents believe, not all barrier island residents are rolling in the dough. People work hard to obtain and maintain their barrier island homes. Nothing comes for free. Stop the jealousy and realize that no matter what, the people on the barrier island, Ortley in particular, suffered a catastrophic loss. The support of TR officials, and ALL it's residents, mainland included, should be all that is expected. Not the sarcasm and pointing of fingers at who thinks who is financially better off than the next.
Karen M February 11, 2013 at 10:43 PM
Its not a question of government interference so much as its a question of who in the hell is going to pay for this? Do you have any idea how much it cost to raise a home on pilings? I do, it costs $73,480.00 and thats without engineering costs, permits, fill, and so on and so on, so add an additional $25,000 to the mix and we're talking roughly $100,000 dollars to put my 36x30 cape on pilings. Sure, I woouldn't mind raising my home and compling with what Fema wants, but the fact of the matter is, I don't have a spare $100,000 dollars sitting in my bank account. I really don't think these people have a clue as to what it costs to raise a home. they are completely out of touch with this fact.
beenthere February 11, 2013 at 11:44 PM
So if my home is determined to be in an A-9 flood zone, how high does my house have to be? I called FEMA they told me to contact the Township. I had first spoke with the Township and was told to get an engineer or architect. Where do I find the answer?
fed up February 11, 2013 at 11:53 PM
Now that is the best idea i have heard of since this whole thing started.
taxed-out-the-wazoo February 12, 2013 at 12:03 AM
I agree with you Michelle. Most are assuming it is a one-time event. Has there ever been another like it that hit this area...even the weather channel and NOAA has deemed it to be an event that was one of a kind.....noreaster winds, lowest barimetric pressure reading "on record" (so NEVER previously recorded to have occurred), tidal waters/full moon and cyclone. So, the data can not support another occuring like it or before. And, Karen, I like many others don't want gov't help. I HAVE insurance. I just want to be able to get my life, my property and such back in order. Not saying people shouldn't elevate, but it should be a choice...not a mandate. I don't believe that TX, FL, LA others were mandated to raise their homes....it was suggested. But, if people wish to do and obtain assistance from FEMA, then they should do as they are instructed....like a bank or any agreement, if you borrow money; you must pay it back in accordance with your agreed upon terms. If both parties agree..then okay. There is no way TR should be holding the pen. THey should be rebuilding the dunes...this time, correctly. And, if they can't get cooperation from private owners...build dunes on the township owned property behind the privated owned property. It's that simple. If they restrict access as a result, then an agreement would need to be reached as far as allowing access (building a walkway above/finding other places to park vehicles, etc.); wouldn't it?
taxed-out-the-wazoo February 12, 2013 at 12:21 AM
Karen M. That is extraordinarily high. Sounds like you may be getting hosed. You may want to reach out to others and find get names/references. You may want to reach out to the AG's office (Consumer Affairs Dept.) and find out if they have any suggestions. And, also find out if those costs are extraordinarily high (which it seems to be) and report him/her for price gouging. Gas station owners are not the ONLY ones prosecuted for such actions. And, over time, the prices may drop. Right now, it is a feeding frenzy. You may be better off waiting. Funny thing, though (although not really funny) re the insistance on using pilings. My property had MANY pilings on it/debris from other homes which had their pilings washed out from under them. So, it is strange that this is the suggested way of "securing" your house....when I saw, first hand, the failure of some pilings to do just that. Many around me, no pilings and structurally sound, still. Good luck in your search...hopefully you can find someone more reasonable.
Karen M February 12, 2013 at 12:40 AM
@taxed-out-the-wazoo, I agree it sounds high, which is why I called another company. I too, don't want to be forced to raise my home, and luckily, our home has no mortgage, but that still doesn't change the fact that if I ever choose to sell it, i won't be able to because of the fact that its not elevated. I wish that I could go with the block foundation, whic has been quoted in the $45,000 range, but pilings is closer to the $75,000 range I've been told. I also have a sunroom and a fireplace and thats where they get you. Those aren't even included in that price, its an additional $8,000 to raise the sunroom and more money to raise the fireplace. Its truly ridiculous. Thsi entire process is making me ill. If I knew back in November that this was going to take place, I would have taken the money, sold my house as is, and went and bought something in Florida, as it is, I'm already $50,000 into the repair and now I'm stuck. If the Governor and the towns knew that these maps were in the works, why didn't they address this issue earlier so people then could of made better informed choices.
Irina February 12, 2013 at 12:48 AM
@Michelle Blamble I totally blame the elite and the associations. We over here in Silverton, Snug Harbor and Shelter Cove would've been better off had the elite and associations allowed the dunes.
taxed-out-the-wazoo February 12, 2013 at 01:40 AM
I agree with you Karen. Good luck and hopefully it will all work out. Southern New Jersey (i.e., Wildwood, Avalon, Sea Isle, Ocean City, etc. ) hasn't been mandated to elevate and they get flooded constantly. The areas around Trenton...the large houses on the Delaware River and their surrounding areas get flooded constantly...no mandate to elevate. Other areas in NJ as well. Guess what...they are selling properties in these areas, currently without elevating. Does anyone think that all the 8000 sq ft houses in Monmouth, Mantoloking, LBI, etc. are going to elevate...8-9 feet in order to sell their house? Doubtful. Keep the faith. Also, remember all of this in the next elections.
Sam February 12, 2013 at 01:50 AM
Yes! Karen M and If Biggert-Waters was passed in JULY of 2012. And it clearly states that our rates were going up! WAY-UP!! Even before SANDY!! Who knew this?? And When? AND when was someone going to tell us?? My insurance premiums will cause more damage than SANDY!!

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