In 2013, New Jersey set up the Blue Acres Program to buy — at pre-storm value — homes that had been damaged by Superstorm Sandy. The program, which is run by the Department of Environmental Protection, was later expanded to include homes in places that may not have been directly impacted by Sandy but are prone to repetitive flooding.
Yesterday, the DEP Commissioner Bob Martin announced a milestone for Blue Acres — its 600th buyout. The property, bought for $390,000, is on Columbia Street in New Milford, Bergen County, close to the Hackensack River. Eighteen other New Milford homes have been bought out under the program.
After Blue Acres buys a house, it’s demolished and the land permanently preserved as open space for recreation and/or conservation. The goal is to buy clusters of homes to provide areas that will absorb flood waters.
Blue Acres has bought out houses in 14 municipalities: Sayreville, South River, Woodbridge, Old Bridge and East Brunswick in Middlesex County; Manville in Somerset County; Pompton Lakes in Passaic County; Newark in Essex County; Rahway and Linden in Union County; Lawrence and Downe in Cumberland County; New Milford in Bergen County; and Ocean in Monmouth County.