Tuckerton Decides on FEMA Flood Map Elevations

Post-Sandy Home Reconstruction Has Been Waiting for Resolution
By PAT JOHNSON | Sep 06, 2014

The Tuckerton Borough Council voted Tuesday night to adopt the floodplain ordinance that will use the latest Flood Insurance Rate Map elevations plus 3 feet. That takes most of Tuckerton Beach out of the rated V-zone (wave velocity zone) that had required residents to elevate to 13 feet above mean low water as figured by an average of spring tides, or the highest low tides of the year.

Now most Tuckerton Beach residents who have already elevated their homes will be in compliance with a rated Base Flood Elevation (BFE) of 9 feet plus 3 feet of “free-board” as measured to the bottom of the first horizontal construction beam.

The council had introduced the ordinance at its Aug. 5 municipal meeting. The ordinance then went to the Tuckerton Land Use Board for its comments.

During the Sept. 2 public hearing on the ordinance, one resident of Tuckerton Beach asked that the council keep the height or elevation to the minimum so that older residents wouldn’t have to climb so many stairs or go to an expensive alternative of putting in an elevator.

Councilman John Schwartz said the land use board had commented on the ordinance and suggested a BFE of 9 feet plus 1 foot of freeboard.

Mayor Buck Evans said that was the first he had heard of the land use board’s recommendation and asked if the board had sent a letter to the council.

The council had not received such a letter, said Clerk/Business Administrator Jenny Gleghorn.

Councilman Jim Edwards said New Jersey Future, the nonprofit organization that is helping Tuckerton and Little Egg Harbor Township with post-Sandy planning, had also recommended adopting the BFE of 9 feet plus 1.

Evans said it was up to council to decide.

Township Attorney Kevin Quinlan asked if the council wanted to hold up adopting the ordinance until it heard formally from the land use board, but he also noted that the board’s recommendation was not binding, and it was up to the council to decide.

“If we don’t pass this tonight, we’re going to have homes that are illegal,” said Councilwoman Doris Mathisen. “There are 15 homes that are being held up” (waiting for the ordinance before they can start construction).

Edwards suggested the town would be going against the state norm by requiring an extra 2 feet of freeboard and it could become an insurance issue when homeowners go to get reimbursed by ICC (Increased Cost of Compliance) funding. (The grants allow up to $30,000 in flood insurance money to elevate if the homeowner’s policy includes an ICC provision.)

According to Edwards and Evans, the insurance companies will reimburse only up to the minimum requirements: BFE plus 1 foot. But Evans said with his own home he had to get his contractor to write a letter certifying that the extra height did not increase the construction.

Quinlan said it was up to homeowners if they want to elevate higher than what is required, as long as they stay within the height requirements.

“Currently there are 15 homes in Tuckerton Beach that are being built to the height of 11 feet plus 1 (as required by the former adopted map). Would they be uninsurable?” asked Edwards.

Evans said no, because they had complied with the state’s map.

By adopting the ordinance of BFE 9 plus 3 feet, that would leave only two homes out of compliance in Tuckerton Beach, and those were because the contractor had cut the pilings too short, which is a legal matter for the homeowners to resolve, said Evans.

The vote to adopt was almost unanimous, with Edwards abstaining.

Edwards brought up another post-Sandy problem: There is a structure on Tuckerton Creek that is slowly falling into the creek. The property is for sale and may have a buyer, said Code Enforcement Officer Jim McAndrew, but the building is on the town’s Federal Emergency Management Agency wish list for demolition. “As soon as FEMA sends the money, it will be done,” he said. There are six houses on the demolition list, he added, and the owners have been contacted.

In other business, Schwartz said he had received a letter from the Monmouth/Ocean County Food Bank asking the town to declare September as Food Bank Month. Schwartz said he had talked with Tuckerton and Little Egg Harbor food pantry administrators, and they reported 62 families had applied for food in the summer.

“That’s families, not individuals,” said Schwartz. “And they are already looking at the casino closings (and anticipating) quite a few more families will be coming.”

Schwartz said if people have fresh vegetables from their gardens, they can take them to the food banks, as well as any canned goods or boxes of food as long as the dates have not expired.

Councilwoman Sue Marshall said the Tuckerton Library Association had recently received a gift of $1,000 from the Tuckerton branch of Wells Fargo Bank. Marshall thanked the TLA treasurer, Wendy Chandler, for approaching the bank. The association will use the money for upkeep of the Tuckerton Library building, said Marshall, who is the TLA president. “It costs $5 to become a (TLA) member for an individual, or $10 for a family. And if you’ve never joined, just fill out the application,” she said as she handed out the newsletter to members of council.

She also mentioned the Tuckerton Historical Society’s Antique Flea Market is set for Sept. 13, with a rain date of either Sept. 14 or 20. The Ocean County Decoy and Gunning Show is planned for Sept. 27-28. And on Oct. 22 from 6 to 8 p.m., the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office will be at Pinelands Regional High School for an education night on preventing drug addiction.

The town’s annual Halloween walk is planned for Saturday, Oct. 25.

Evans has invited the Jersey Outlaw Boat Racing organization to hold its championship race in Tuckerton Cove, off South Green Street Park in Tuckerton Beach, on Sept. 20.

“They had their last race there, and they thought it was beautiful, and that Tuckerton Beach would be the best place for the championship,” said Evans. “They average 1,000 spectators – it’s phenomenal. Maybe since it’s free, they could ask people to bring a can of food for the food pantry.”

The council approved the date for the use of the park.

Jersey Outlaw organizer Kathleen Halbing thanked the council. “We intend to put on a great championship. And we will ask everyone to bring a can of food.”

Later, she remarked that the proceeds from sales of T-shirts go to the special education programs at Frog Pond Elementary School in Little Egg Harbor, and that in two years the organization had donated $9,000.

Police Chief Michael Caputo warned the public that there is a device being sold through Radio Shack and other electronic outlets that can read pin pad numbers based on infrared heat left from pin pad users, and it is small enough to be strapped to a cell phone. Caputo said the public should be aware of who is doing what behind them in line when at a checkout line, and be cautious.

Evans suggested pushing a random bunch of numbers on the key pad after the transaction goes through in order to confuse the infrared heat sensor.

patjohnson@thesandpaper.net

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