State to fund planning projects to bolster resiliency

Photo: Jeremy Moyer/For the AnchorPhoto: Jeremy Moyer/For the Anchor

KEYPORT – The borough will receive $360,000 from the state Department of Community Affairs to help it become more resilient to climate change, sea level rise and the effects of storms like Hurricane Sandy.

The terms of the grant require borough officials to complete 10 projects within a year of selecting the firms to complete them.

Lisa Ryan, the community affairs spokeswoman, had this to say about the grant program:

Due to Superstorm Sandy damage, many New Jersey municipalities and counties face a myriad of recovery challenges. Among them is the need for planning support to develop community recovery plans that strategically address the issues that now confront them. In furtherance of its mission to provide local government officials with the tools needed to efficiently manage municipal operations, DCA created the Post Sandy Planning Assistance Grant Program, which is designed to supplement the ongoing efforts of Sandy-impacted local and county governments to rebuild and revitalize.

Nearly a third of the grant will be devoted to developing comprehensive plans for neighborhoods along First and Beers streets each of which were devastated by the storm tide fueled by Hurricane Sandy.

Ryan provided this breakdown:

  • $50,000 for a master plan reexamination report: This grant will help the borough address post-Sandy strategies and policies related to hazard mitigation and community resiliency with up-to-date mapping of current land uses, new FEMA floodplain and wetland mapping, critical community facilities, and important natural resources areas.
  • $100,000 for Beers and First streets neighborhood plans: The Beers Street Neighborhood and First Street Waterfront Neighborhoods were substantially hit by the Sandy. The purpose of these two projects is to help the borough prepare neighborhood plans that evaluate and quantify the risks and associated impacts of potential future flooding in these neighborhoods, present proposed solutions and strategies that mitigate future storm effects and provide a plan to promote recovery and resiliency in these neighborhoods. These neighborhood plans will be based on data from geographic information system sources including flood hazards, tax parcels, zoning, transportation networks and critical facilities. Also, the neighborhood plans will be designed to be incorporated into the borough’s comprehensive land use plan and will help inform other post-Sandy resilience planning activities.
  • $25,000  for permit application process quality improvement: This grant will help the borough to increase the efficiency and quality of its permit and application process by going through a detailed review of its workflow and automating the process.
  • $30,000 for a capital improvement plan ($30,000): This grant will help the borough determine where to make municipal capital investments on public facilities, vehicle fleets and equipment to build community resiliency in plants and equipment such as raising generators above flood hazard elevations and developing contingency plans for municipal equipment and facilities.
  • $50,000 for geographic information system development : The purpose of the project is to develop a GIS for the borough that will increase the community’s resiliency and enable it to better prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters. The components of the GIS include public works infrastructure, land information, and floodplain management-related data layers and applications.
  • $20,000 for a debris management plan: This grant will help the borough develop a municipal plan that provides guidance on debris management after disasters and includes such components as allocating debris removal sites, collection strategies, and debris reduction methods. This plan will also help to increase the efficiency of existing stormwater management facilities and other critical infrastructure in the Borough.
  • $50,000 for a local hazard mitigation plan: This grant will assist the borough in updating its current hazard mitigation plan, which identifies and assesses the various flooding hazards within the borough, as well as the associated vulnerabilities to those hazards. This plan will also identify alternative mitigation actions that can be implemented to reduce the borough’s risks resulting from exposure to flooding hazards.
  • $20,000 for a zoning ordinance amendment: This grant will assist the borough with zoning ordinance amendments that are generally related to hazard mitigation, flood mitigation and resiliency, as will be recommended through the master plan reexamination report. These amendments will be the enabling and enforceable zoning codes to address whatever issues are identified in the master plan reexamination.
  • $25,000 for a community vulnerability assessment ($25,000): This assessment is intended to help the borough’s policy makers and planners foster short and long-term decisions regarding recovery management, reconstruction, resiliency and adaptation measures. By taking into account hazards, exposure, and vulnerability factors associated with flood and weather events, Keyport will be more fully equipped to address vulnerabilities to municipal assets and to make informed, long-range land use planning and public investment strategies. The assessment will include maps of land-based conditions that may exacerbate the impact of flood hazards, an analysis of whether key community assets are constructed and located in a manner to resist damage from potential flood exposure, and an evaluation of the risk to community assets depending on the magnitude and frequency of flood hazards. The assessment will yield parcel level data for future policy decisions and forecast potential longer-term implications on the community’s ratables and tax base.

Keyport’s coffers won’t be flush with the cash off the bat.  Ryan explained that these grants can only be paid as projects are completed. That means borough officials need to spend the money first and file for reimbursement from the state.

If borough officials paid for the projects outright with no reimbursement, completing all the projects within a year could represent a five to six cents of the municipal tax rate.

The borough has not yet chosen any firms to complete the projects.