Raise Highlands or Raze Highlands?

That seems to be the question. Every media outlet is talking about how Mayor Nolan wants to raise Highlands with back fill.

NJ News

Personally I agree with the one contractor on Shrewsbury Ave, who house burned down. It’s a pipe dream. Not that its not logistically possible, its just not fiscally possible.

Side Question, if they do bring in 6 ft of fill dirt, do I still need to raise my house?

Add in the fact that Gov Christie yesterday said “If a property in an A Zone, which is described as a high-hazard zone, is 4 feet below the flood maps, the owner can expect to pay up to $31,000 in insurance a year” and the misconception that by adopting the advisory maps, New Jersey has also made it easier for property owners to receive Increase Cost of Compliance, or ICC, funding.  The illusive  $30,000 to raise a home. The money my insurance policy won’t release until AFTER I raise my house.

So.. I pay $60k to raise my house (all in, not just for the raise, I know just the lift isn’t that much, but I’m tired of being told its ONLY $12k (ish) to lift your home. But then you add the structural engineer, the architect, the mason, the framer, the GC….)  OR pay $30k a year in increased Flood premiums for NOT raising my house. ~ sounds like extortion to me.

OR option 3 walk away. I’m getting the sinking feeling this is really what the desired outcome actually is. Nobody is going to tell you they are going to take your home, they’re just going to make it impossible to stay there.

If this is truly what is wanted, do what Cuomo is doing on the South Shore, make people offers to *NOT* rebuild. At least that way I’m not foreclosed on and I’ll have a little money to go else where.


  1. You have about summed it up.

    This is what I wrote under your blog about all of the related costs at the beggining of the month.

    I would like to raise my house also but there is so much uncertainty for all of us. The main thing is More than likely most of us even if we were equity positive before the storm are not now and then when you factor in the additional cost of the lift either out of pocket or via loan then you are completely underwater with no clue as to when you would be equity positive again. I was equity positive over $100k prior to the storm so at best I am flat.

    For me I would need to take a loan. I don’t see a bank giving me a loan if I am even or underwater at this point. That leaves the possibility of the SBA emergency loans. Then all affected by Sandy have until the end of the month to apply for a loan from the SBA. They have a range of 1.68% to 4%. With a maximum of 240k in loan. $200 for the structure and $40 for the contents. Unfortunately they also deduct what the insurance settlement would be. The only way the math works from a cash flow standpoint is if I could borrow at the lowest rate and refi the mortgage and use the difference to cover the FEMA shortfall for the lifting. That would add 2 years to my mortgage and increase my monthly nut by $100. While being underwater it is still a lower cost than walking away and renting something until my credit is repaired. It would alos likely be much less costly than the increased flood insurance premium based upon what I have heard afetr calling Fema, SBA and my insurance company for an idea. Unfortunately none of them could give me a real number just a very broad range.

    As far as any way the municipality can give you are hard time they have their backs against the wall because if we are forced to raise and we have 1200 plus homes in Highlands in the same boat then I wouldn’t be surprised if 50% or more just walk away from their homes either because they don’t qualify for a loan or can’t afford the extra carry cost. That would then cause Highlands and a huge number of towns in NY and NJ not getting enough property tax revenue to provide essential services and then they file for bankruptcy.


    • I’m never sure what “essential services” I’m even getting for my money in Highlands – the fire department is volunteers, the ambulance squad is volunteers, the only street that gets cleaned on a semi-regular basis is Bay Avenue….nobody knows where all the money from Clam Fest goes except to put on more parades…..


  2. This week there is an elegantly worded article in Try CIty News by Gabrielle Obre making the case for not paying anymore to keep homes in these danger zones. She advoacted working with nature, taking proactive control of the future rather than fighting against unstoppable forces.

    Agree with the Blog 100% the best idea should be to maximize the govt support to relocate (ie $$ to help buy-outs) and to NOT subsidize hazardous home locations. Highlands has the potential to become an incredible bayfront recreational space, with a few select businesses, taking advantage of the natural shoreline once its restored.


  3. Aren’t you getting any money from your flood insurance claim?

    And if you do leave, can you please take all of the part-time residents with you? Everybody says they’re leaving New Jersey, but I always seem to be stuck in traffic!


    • BB – yes I’m getting some money, not nearly enough, but some. I’ve been fighting with them since receiving it 6 weeks ago. And definitely NOT leaving NJ – so won’t be taking PT’ers w/ me. – besides who’s blog would you read if I left…


  4. BB-You crack me up,man ! They had film crews on Waterwitch from Channel 9, 2 & 4 today about town and Mayor’s “Out Of Box ” idea. Also spoke to some neighbors in area and vultures have already been sent out by the town officials eyeing 3 peoples homes that are in a row to build townhouses. One of my neighbors approached them and was basically told that straight up. Nice to know town on your side.
    You know I also have been checking out council meeting minutes and they keep hiring this T & M associates for engineering and throwing taxpayer money to them for mitigation projects as far back as 2007 that never happen. WTF?


    • RS – there *have* been mitigation projects.. they haven’t worked… but there have been, remember last year new sewers on Bay Ave by Huddy and Waterwitch by Linden.. BTW I heard T&M forgot to take the caps of the sewers when connecting them and that’s why they almost didn’t finish in time for Clam Fest..


    • Yes I remember that and flooding issues reslly didnt get much better at least from what I experieced. But I read $$$ to put new pumping system by recreation center and never happened so just seems to hire same people that have ultimately done nothing to eleviate the flooding issues seem like slap in face to all residents of Highlands and to be frank, criminal!


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