Drinking Game Alert: we all should have brought flasks or cocktails and drank every time Mayor Nolan said “Solutions Center” – it would have made the whole meeting a lot more tolerable.
Highlands is 20 million in the hole & just from people requesting their houses to be reassessed, it doesn’t include people walking away from their homes. No numbers on how many people are planning, although we *should* know how many people haven’t paid taxes since the storm. I think we all know people who have or are planning to walk, or neighbors who just disappeared and haven’t been back. Also, were we are we in the process with the re-assessments? According to Mayor Nolan, ask the Tax guy who is in the trailers next to the Fire House. (I know you thought he was going to say Solution Center, but there were many other instances)
The Solution Center is OPEN. 19 Bay Ave (next to Chubby Pickle) it is also the construction office, permits, advice on lifting and all other information. Here’s my issue, IF I go back there for a 3rd time and ask a question just to be told “I don’t know” from one of the nice ladies we now have working there, I think I might snap and make them want to quit or cry. I mean really, their only qualifications seemed to be that they are local. I really don’t give a rats ass if they are local, I just want them to be knowledgeable. Maybe it would have been better to hire some people from New Orleans that actually went through this. ~ Case in point on the newly posted Solution Center FB Page, announcing the packet for the Hope for Highlands monies have been sent out. If you are going to *as the Highlands Solution Center” post that, you damn well better know some basic information about it. But typical Highlands not being to answer, says “I don’t know a contact go to the HighlandsNJ site” – which doesn’t actually have ANY contact information on it. (besides the DONATE button). No Email, No telephone numbers, (side note Google Voice is free), not even a form email.
The Best is, during the Q&A section of the meeting, when asked about the process of the Hope for Highlands funds distribution, Mayor Nolan answers “Its distributed on a case by case basis” and “You can get more information from the – wait for it – from the solution center” (DRINK UP PEOPLE)
Regarding the Back filling of Highlands, It didn’t seem to be a serious consideration. Mayor Nolan didn’t like the Army Core of Engineer’s idea of a 14 ft wall around the town and wanted to challenge them to think of *other* ideas. So basically we have no new viable ideas on how to mitigate flooding in Highlands. (Heavy Sigh) I’ve lived here going on 11 years and its been a topic of conversation since I’ve lived here, it’s been an issue for generations. Not figuring out a game plan in an expedited time frame is not an option. Its like we all know its an issue but we have no idea what to do so we do nothing. If this is over your pay grade than defer to other smart people who can make the decisions for you.
Councilman Francy went on and on about the importance of getting permits. That if permits are not gotten that C/O’s will not be given. And lifting your house will be a requirement for C/O for non-resident homes (rental properties). — Oh this is after the T&M guy said the process for the grants for potential reimbursement from FEMA may take YEARS and he’s still trying to get the 10 houses approved during Irene paid. So Highlands, you’re expecting that anyone that owns a rental property to raise those homes before re-issuing their c/o for renters. Way to cut the tax base 40%in addition to the existing 20 million dollar deficit. So 40% of damaged houses are rentals, of those 40% that have renters a high percentage of those renters live and work in town, if you are going to force a raise in that 40% of homes before a C/O is given, it will force people to walk from those homes, leave renters homeless and most of the town vacant. Really are you that stupid? First of all I don’t think you can hold the rental properties to a different standard than the owner occupied homes. Meaning the owner occupied homes have 4 years to raise them. Requiring rental properties to be raised FIRST, would be committing financial suicide as a town. Why would you do something so inane? If they put their homes back in order, they can in turn offer homes IN TOWN that people can move back to and continue to pay ratables.
Also during the Q&A, it was aske regarding the ICC, how is the *value* of the house determined? Meaning is it “Tax Assessed Value” “Market Value – like what you see on Zillow or got for a Refi”, or “Replacement Value” – those of you who have gotten your check & proof of loss from your insurance company, will recognize that the insurance company determines your property value from the “replacement value”. Mayor Nolan referred the question to Dale from T&M. Who said (and I quote) “Its the structure” and preceded to walk away from the podium. Huh?? So either he doesn’t know or he’s being evasive do to the fact if people realized that its based on say the market value and say your insurance company deems the damage to be less of 50% of that value i.e. your home is valued on zillow or by a HVE at $170k and you got a check for $40k from insurance, $40k isn’t 50% of 170k, add in you hadn’t flooded before Sandy for a minimum of 10 years – YOU DON’T HAVE TO RAISE YOUR HOUSE.
All in all, I walked out of there with a bigger headache than I did when I was working in my mold ridden house pulling out drywall.