$300M property buyout plan for Sandy-damaged homes announced

TRENTON – The state unveiled a $300 million post-Sandy property buyout plan Thursday.

The program announced by Gov. Chris Christie would offer residents the chance to sell properties damaged in last year’s superstorm.

The plan would include approximately 1,000 homes damaged by Sandy as well as another 300 homes repeatedly damaged by floods in the Passaic River basin.

“This buyout program will give homeowners added flexibility and another option as they rebuild from Sandy,” Christie said in a release. “The process is a way to help people and property get out of harm’s way, but as I have always said, we will not force any of these residents to sell their homes or force any towns to participate in buyouts.

“This is a willing seller program for beleaguered neighborhoods and communities in flood-prone areas that have suffered the wrath of Sandy, and who believe that buyouts are the best option for their future.’’

The program would begin in July, with initial closings expected by Labor Day and with all of them completed within one year, the state reported.

The state is targeting clusters of homes or entire neighborhoods that were ravaged by the storm. Those homes will be razed and the areas maintained as open space.

“It is up to these communities to make the tough decisions on whether to sell or rebuild,’’ said Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin.

“We understand this is a very personal and difficult decision to make for people who were decimated by Sandy and may have also suffered damage in previous storms, but who still love where they live. But for those who choose the buyout option, we promise to work diligently to move the process along as quickly as possible and to minimize government red tape and bureaucracy.’’

Case managers will reach out personally to individual homeowners by the end of May to help guide them through the buyout process. Homeowners interested in selling their homes through this process also may contact the DEP’s Blue Acres Program at 609-984-0500.

Property appraisals and title work will begin in June, the state reported.

$300M property buyout plan for Sandy-damaged homes announced