By LOHR McKINSTRY Press-Republican
---- — AuSABLE FORKS — A public-information forum is slated as Essex County gets closer to a federal buyout of flood-damaged homes.
The meeting is at 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 23, at the Jay Community Center, hosted by the Town of Jay, to update residents on the property-acquisition program.
Buyout participants and the public are encouraged to attend, Jay Town Supervisor Randy Douglas said. Also in attendance will be Keene Town Supervisor William Ferebee.
Most of the 26 Essex County major-damage property buyouts are in the towns of Jay and Keene, with a few others scattered around the county. Another 11 homes are in a separate buyout program for non-substantial damage.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is providing most of the buyout money.
Essex County Attorney Daniel Manning III will be handling the real-estate closings on all properties, Douglas said. Manning will be available to speak to homeowners about the process and answer any legal questions pertaining to the buyout.
Douglas said properties with liens, late taxes or deed restrictions will take longer to process.
“It’s a complicated, complicated process,” he said at a recent County Board of Supervisors meeting. “A frustrating process.”
Essex County Community Resources Director Michael Mascarenas will provide a short presentation on what stage the county is at and answer any program questions.
“As we enter the final stages of the program, it is important that homeowners understand what is necessary to complete the process in the most time-efficient manner possible,” Douglas said in a news release.
The homes were all heavily damaged in the floods of 2011 following tropical storms Irene and Lee.
The final approved buyout totals $3.5 million, which represents 75 percent of the total project cost of $5.5 million. The award requires a 25 percent non-federal share, which the state is expected to cover.
Once the county takes title to the properties, the houses will be demolished and the land restored with plantings.
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