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Council Agrees To 'Put Pressure' On Governor To Fight FEMA Flood Elevation Maps

Officials adopt ordinance approving advisory base flood elevation guidelines, 'under extreme protest'

It's no secret that township officials didn't like FEMA's advisory base flood elevation guidelines almost as soon as they were released in mid-December.

But last night they unhappily adopted an ordinance officially adopting the new standards "under extreme protest," the ordinance states.

The advisory base flood elevations (ABFEs) are already the law of the land, since Gov. Chris Christie issued an emergency order back in January.

But it was necessary to adopt them in Berkeley to make it easier for residents whose homes were more than 50 percent damaged to qualify for Increased Cost of Compensation (ICC) grants, Mayor Carmen F. Amato Jr. said.

"Some insurance companies are not recognizing the Governor's executive order," Amato said. "This will impair the ability of residents to receive ICC funds," he said.

Adopting the maps was also necessary to retain Berkeley's standing in the National Flood Insurance Program as a participant in the Community Rating System. Berkeley residents receive a 15 percent reduction in flood insurance premiums, the mayor said.

But Berkeley will continue to oppose the maps, which township officials have said are flawed, especially the "V" zone designations - areas deemed vulnerable to three-foot wave action during storms - and Coastal A zone designations.

"Unfortunately, the advisory maps remain inaccurate, which causes concern for me and the entire governing body," Amato said in a March 8 letter to FEMA official Scott Duell.

Amato asked for an "immediate map change," and said the maps did not take into account already available mapping for dunes, bulkheads, roads, islands, salt marshes, sand bars and other wave impediments.

"Simply put, there was available data that was ignored to be ultra-conservative," Amato said in the letter. "Unfortunately, this ultra-conservative data has a very real and negative impact on our residents."

"Our residents are being asked to make life decisions predicted on a map we know is inaccurate and insurance rates that forecast dire impacts," he said.

South Seaside Park resident James Fulcomer - who is also the Berkeley Board of Education President - urged council members to pass a resolution to "put pressure" on Christie to do more to oppose the advisory base flood elevations.

"The bay (Barnegat Bay) is too small and to shallow to generate such wave action," Fulcomer told the council. "I think the pressure has to be put on the governor. It's up to us to persuade him in the only way possible to fix the damage FEMA has given us. It's just a big money grab by FEMA and the flood insurance industry."

The council agreed and passed the resolution unanimously. Councilman L. Thomas Grosse was absent.

Karen Lispate March 26, 2013 at 10:44 PM
Next he will raise taxes with same reasoning.
Dawn Parks March 27, 2013 at 04:24 AM
Mayor Almato and Jim Byrnes Berkeley Council President need to stop using Super Storm Sandy and other people’s misery to advance there political careers. Just by riding around town asking if people were alright and posing for pictures does not help anyone. As for Ashbritt, the hiring of them was a total knee jerk reaction. For Berkeley to pay a Florida firm was a sham. When it could have gone to local people. The town could have hired more local workers and payed them instead of hiring Ashbritt. Besides that Ashbritt never finished the Job. Ashbritt can’t even prove where the garbage came from. Their invoices are 95% incomplete they couldn’t even give Berkeley a street name of where the garbage/trash/removal came from. As for the town excepting a bill of 210,768.13 with out knowing where it came from is a joke. I have all the invoices for all the towns that Mr. Gilmore has been associated with. Berkeley Jackson Toms River Sea Side Park Sea Heights Brick Lavallette long beach ocean Manchester Mantoloking Stafford Beach Haven long beach township Along with a big fat bill that was 45,000,000.00 dollars to the county. Along with us already paying a bill from the county of 5,160,854.82 for ocean county landfill tipping fees. I hope every town that I mentioned takes a good look at what you have spent.
Poindexter McSmash March 27, 2013 at 11:21 AM
No one got any money for their homes, except for those who where insured. So why are you punishing us?
Karen Lispate March 27, 2013 at 08:28 PM
I agree with prior poster Amato and Byrnes are influence peddlers for boss Gilmore.
foggyworld May 27, 2013 at 02:05 AM
Good Luck Point is only partially in the wetlands and those areas were even before Sandy considered to be unbuildable.

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