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SEA BRIGHT: COUNCIL WAIVES PERMIT FEES

Members of the borough council at Tuesday night’s meeting. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Amid complaints by residents about unresolved insurance claims and other rebuilding delays, the Sea Bright borough council rolled out several measures aimed at getting them back into their homes with less hassle and cost Tuesday night.

Among the moves: a moratorium on construction permit fees for all work related to Hurricane Sandy-related rebuilding and repairs.

Though some members of the council – including Marc Leckstein, who voiced concerns about its financial impact – were hesitant about the resolution, borough Chief Financial Officer Michael Bascom said that a special emergency appropriation, along with reimbursements from FEMA and insurance claims down the line, would cover the shortfall.

No figures were given about the expected cost of foregoing the fees.

According to Long, even though insurance companies generally foot the bill for construction permits, the council felt it necessary to expedite the rebuilding process by waiving permit costs up-front, so residents and business owners can move quickly once their insurance claims are settled.

“As you can tell by the residents who spoke up before, a lot of people don’t have their insurance money yet,” she told redbankgreen post-meeting. “It’s important to let them know that their governing body knows this and wants to help.”

A deadline to apply for waived permits was set for January 31.

Also discussed during the course of the meeting was Sea Bright’s application to participate the newly created Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power (STEP) Pilot Program, unveiled last week by Governor Chris Christie. The program enables residents to obtain up to $10,000 worth of electrical meter repairs, temporary exterior repairs and essentials such as heat and power. The work is administered and contracted through local municipal governments in coordination with FEMA, with federal-municipal cost-share of 75-25.

The council passed a resolution to allow the borough to apply for the program.

“At this point, residents aren’t only facing hardships directly dealing with the hurricane, but also its impact moving forward, and we understand this,” said Long. “Programs like this are designed to help.”

The council also announced the arrival of Charles Vickery, a disaster recovery expert, who will be available for free consultations by appointment, thanks to funding from the Rumson for Sea Bright Fund and the Community Foundation of New Jersey.

Vickery will assist both residents and businesses on topics and questions including but not limited to FEMA, insurance claims, and dealing with the aftereffects of the hurricane. He can be reached here or at 561-213-3792.

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