Governor Christie Says Forced Home Buyouts Not Likely [POLL/AUDIO]
In some areas of the state homes are damaged or destroyed after every major storm. They’re often rebuilt in part with the use of tax dollars, both state and federal.
Governor Chris Christie thinks maybe some people should think about moving out of flood-prone areas, but he doesn’t think it should be mandatory.
“I don’t anticipate using eminent domain in that regard. I don’t,” says Christie. “I think that’s something that should be left to the individual homeowners. There may come an instance where we would have to consider it, but I would tell you now that my inclination is not to use eminent domain in that way.”
Just after super-storm Sandy, State Senate President Steve Sweeney toured flood-damaged areas with the Governor where both men spoke with many homeowners.
Sweeney explains, “People were pleading with us to buy out their properties and not re-build them and they’re right, we should.”
Homeowners haven’t always been so willing to have the state snap up their properties. Sweeney says, “I spoke to them and said, ‘Before these storms came if we tried to get you to move you would never do it,’ and they said, ‘You’re right, but now after three storms in three years we can’t afford to stay here anymore.’”
“Hopefully we’ll get some money from the federal government and we’re certainly asking them for some to make those buyouts available for folks,” says the Governor. “I certainly don’t want to make it mandatory. That’s not my inclination. I’m a little skittish about eminent domain being used very aggressively.”
If the state could buy up homes in chronically flooded areas with the homeowners’ blessing, Sweeney says the land could be preserved and re-development could be barred. He hopes parks or some other type of recreational area could stand where the homes once did.
“First, we spend a lot of money to keep the water out,” says Sweeney. “Then we spend a lot of money when we have to fix the homes. Then we re-build them and they flood out again and we re-build them…….We really have to do something to help these communities (and) allow these homeowners to move out of these areas. It’s not fair to keep them there subject to these storms every single year.”
Similar to the State’s “Green Acres” fund that buys open space and saves it, New Jersey already has a flood-area buyout program. It’s called “Blue Acres.”