On January 24, 2013, Governor Chris Christie announced new emergency regulations issued by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) adopting the FEMA flood maps, which provide rebuilding standards in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy in New Jersey. The new maps, while already issued by FEMA, will not take effect for 18-24 months, potentially leaving property owners in a state of limbo as to whether they should rebuild their properties today or wait up two years until the new maps are adopted. Under federal law, property owners in flood prone areas whose property was damaged by 51% or more, automatically must meet current rebuilding and height standards. Those whose properties were 50% or less damaged are not required to meet current rebuilding and height standards. However if they choose not to rebuild, they may pay substantially more for flood insurance.
The emergency rule also allows property owners who rebuild to the new guidelines (plus one foot) to do so with a Permit by Rule (PBR), cutting red tape for these property owners to apply for a Flood Hazard Area permit and saving them at least $500 in permit fees plus designing and engineering costs. In addition, this portion of the rule allows for reconstruction to begin without waiting for DEP approval of the flood hazard area permit. The adoption of the FEMA flood maps and the other portions of this rule take effect immediately and are meant to provide guidance so property owners can rebuild today without paying significant flood insurance premiums and to prevent potentially hundreds of sets of standards that could vary by municipality. For additional information and to view the rules, visit the DEP website.