From the Star Ledger:
Calling Hurricane Sandy-damaged homes that have not yet been torn down an “ongoing emergency,” Gov. Chris Christie signed an executive order aimed at speeding up the process of razing unsafe properties.
The order puts the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs in charge of overseeing the demolition efforts, which will be funded with $15 million in federal money.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in January approved the state’s plan to shift funding in order to primarily provide more money to established housing grant programs. But the state also requested — and received federal approval — to establish a $15 million program to demolish unsafe properties.
That $15 million comes from the first round of nearly $1.83 billion in Community Development Block grants the state received from the federal government. The state in February outlined its plan to spend the next round of those flexible grants.
The governor signed the executive order Friday.
The order gives the Community Affairs commissioner the authority to “commandeer Sandy-impacted eligible structures,” as well as take possession of rights of way on any property needed to facilitate demolition.
According to the governor’s office, state code enforcement officials have been surveying private properties to identify homes that need to be razed. Property owners will be notified when that determination is made and then will have the opportunity to challenge it.