Neptune would like to acquire about 18 flood-prone properties along the Shark River under the state’s Green Acres program.
“Some properties are vacant, some are environmentally sensitive, and others are commercial and residential properties,” said Leanne Hoffman, the township’s director of engineering and planning.
All properties are near the Shark River and between S. Riverside Drive and Valley Road in the Shark River Hills area. The properties can only be acquired if the owner is a willing seller and eminent domain does not come into play.
“We are not going after properties that do not have willing sellers. Many owners have already completed an application saying they are willing sellers and it would remove a lot of buildings from the flood zone,” Hoffman said.
She said the township is currently compiling a list of properties and determining a rough-estimate value based on recent property tax assessments. However, property owners will be paid fair-market value for their properties, not the assessed value.
“A lot of the properties are vacant and we are currently putting a map together,” Hoffman said.
Whether the properties would become a park or just open space is still under review.
A public hearing on the Green Acres application will be held during the regular Neptune Township Committee meeting on Monday, July 28 at 7:00 p.m. in the second-floor meeting room of the Municipal Building at 25 Neptune Boulevard.
Toni McCudden, who owns Current Trends salon at 27 S. Riverside Drive, said she originally signed up in 2013 to participate in the Department of Environmental Protection’s state-purchase program for her property but has since changed her mind. Her property was heavily damaged during Superstorm Sandy but the building was refurbished and her business is up and running again.
“I felt terribly threatened after Sandy and the storm brought up the issue of raising the building and increased flood insurance. If we raised the building, we would have to install a handicapped-accessible elevator. It was cost prohibitive to stay here and run my business. So, I felt the best recourse was to sell it to the state and take everything out and relocate,” she said.
But, after doing her own research, McCudden and her husband decided that they are just as well off staying right where they are and keeping their business and property.
“Through my research I gained my confidence back. Nobody can make us raise our building and sink in pilings- it is cost prohibitive, so we will stay here and continue to run the business just as it is.” she said.
“Plus the state was only buying my property and not my business. I would like to sell my business and property as a package,” she said.
McCudden, who said she will attend the public meeting, said she still has flood insurance, which has only increased by a few hundred dollars.
“I am totally fine. I will attend the meeting and I am very curious to see what they say. They waited a little too long as far as I am concerned,” she said.