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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

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Would Vacant Lots Benefit CRS Rating?

By Vince Conti

CAPE MAY – Cape May City property owners receive a discount of 20% on federal flood insurance premiums because of the city’s Community Rating System (CRS) score.
The rating system is an ongoing process, in which the Federal Emergency Management System (FEMA) frequently adjusts the criteria for the rating system to focus and highlight various aspects of local mitigation, floodplain management and outreach activities.
Deputy Mayor Patricia Hendricks responded Jan. 7 to a report from the city’s advisory committee on city-owned buildings and lots, with a suggestion that reversed previous thinking – offloading vacant properties through some form of municipal sale.
The advisory committee had presented a list of municipally owned irregular lots to Cape May City Council, and proposed their sale as a way of ridding the city of any liability should someone injure themselves on such a lot. One attempted sale of a single lot failed to attract an interested party.
For the most part, the lots are not suitable for development, except by individuals who own adjacent property, to which the lot can be added.
Hendricks suggested that the city keep the lots vacant, aggregating and incorporating them in municipal open space for purposes of the city’s next CRS submission.
More permeable land might make an attractive aspect of the submission, she argued, and might make the difference in moving up in the rating system, earning a higher discount for all city taxpayers who use the federal flood insurance program.
“It is worth investigation,” Hendricks said, as she called for another discussion at the council’s next work session, one at which she would like the city’s CRS coordinator present.

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