In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, two camps emerged: those who wanted to rebuild, and a small group of people who advocated retreat from coastal areas.
In Brick, it became clear quickly that those in the earlier camp ruled the day: when the state presented the program to local residents, just one expressed interest in having the state buy their home under the Blue Acres program, which pays market value to homeowners who wish to give up their flood-prone properties.
“We only had one house out of all of Brick that asked for that program,” said Mayor John Ducey. “We’re not sure if they’re going to be accepted or not.”
The likelihood of that resident – the name or address of whom was not disclosed – being bought out is relatively slim, officials with the state Department of Environmental Protection have said. The DEP, which oversees the Blue Acres program, has preferred to conduct buyouts in neighborhoods where multiple residents have requested them. That way, blocks are not left with empty lots that could, in theory, leave areas more prone to flooding. Under the terms of the program, once a plot of land is bought out, it cannot be redeveloped ever again.
State officials have overseen the buyouts in Woodbridge, Sayreville and East Brunswick to the north, and at least one Salem County community on the Delaware River.
In the past, DEP Commissioner Bob Martin has said the low level of interest in buyouts in coastal areas have been driven by high property values in waterfront areas, as well as a desire by residents to maintain coastal lifestyles. Ducey expressed his agreement with that sentiment this week.
“Up north where the rivers were flooding, they were a lot more willing to give up their houses,” said Ducey. “But here in Brick, people are proud to live here, they want to live here.”