Letters

Process Is Suspect

May 24, 2017

To the Editor:

I am writing you concerning Stafford Township’s “Hazard Mitigation Grant for elevation of Sandy damaged properties” process.

The first letter homeowners received about this indicated that the applications had to be physically picked up at the municipal building and be completed by May 15. This is a hardship for individuals living out of state. The forms could not be downloaded from the web. Once the homeowner was able to get to the municipal building and pick up the 32-page packet, the front sheet, dated April 17, indicated the entire packet had to be completed and returned to the mayor’s office by May 8 at noon. It seems to me that the time the township gave to homeowners to understand the forms and have them completed was not enough, unless you were a local contractor or municipal employee who knew of the grant prior to the owners being notified.

One form that was required was an elevation survey. On average, the cost of an elevation survey is $350, and if you owned your home for over 50 years and did not have a mortgage you probably did not have this form so you would have to contact a surveying company and pay for this service.

Two other forms were required that needed a notary to witness. The “Affidavit” form, once completed, showed the amounts of monies received, if any, by the homeowner from flood insurance and other grants. This form was easy to complete and understand. But the second form, “Model Acknowledgement of Conditions,” was another matter.

The first page of this form could not be completed unless you went to the township for help concerning the “map panel number” and the Preliminary Form 34029C 0511G 3-28-14 BFE=8 information. But what concerned me most about this form is that the homeowner had to have the second page signed and notarized before the township completed its part of the form. Why would anyone ever sign a form, hand it to someone and then let him or her complete the rest of the fields on the top of the form?

I think the whole process is suspect. And as we have seen with other Sandy funds, where there is free (our taxpayer) money, there are rats.

I was also told by the mayor’s office that the names of the homeowners selected by a lottery to receive the grants “for lifting 10 to 15 homes in Sandy affected areas,” according to township correspondence, would not be made available to the public. Hopefully, someone will complete a state records request form, requesting the names of the homeowners under the Open Public Records Act. Then with the names, it can be verified that there was no collusion between the homeowners, local contractors and township employees. Not that this would ever happen, but it would make others feel more at ease

At the Stafford Township Council meeting on May 9 there was less than one minute of time for discussion concerning the mitigation grant process.

David Pollack

Stafford Township

 

 

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