Gloucester decides to stick with Hazard Mitigation Grant Program
Gloucester County will continue to allow residents who have begun the process of receiving federal grant money either to elevate their homes or sell their flood-prone properties to continue through with the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.
This comes after several supervisors questioned whether the county should be involved in the program at all. A discussion on the matter was held during Tuesday night’s board meeting in the colonial courthouse.
Gloucester County has managed 13 of these grants totaling over $11.8 million since Hurricane Isabel ravaged the area in late 2003.
According to Gloucester’s assistant county administrator for community development Garrey Curry, these grants are funded 75 percent by the federal government, 20 percent by the state and 5 percent by the property owner.
The money is used to purchase the properties, which are then transferred to be managed by the county. The program is designed to help homeowners in flood-prone areas to elevate their homes or sell their properties to get out of harm’s way.
Throughout the process, Curry said the sitting board of supervisors at the time passed the resolutions and requested that applications be submitted for each grant. Then, after being notified of an award, the board passed an additional resolution accepting the grant money.
“There’s no doubt there are risks,” Curry said. However, he acknowledged that there is a new board of supervisors and it is up to the board as a whole whether to continue on with the program.
“I don’t think we need to be in the real estate business,” said York district supervisor Phillip Bazzani.
Bazzani also questioned why many of the parcels that have been acquired by the county were purchased from the previous homeowners at sometimes triple the amount of what the current assessments on those properties are.
Curry said the current assessment price is for the vacant land. When the parcels were purchased under the grant program, there were structures on the properties, which raised their values. Once the county took ownership, the structures were immediately torn down so that the properties could be mitigated for other uses.
Prior to being purchased under the program, each parcel was evaluated by a professional appraiser, who determined the purchase price for each given property.