BERKELEY – Two houses owned by the County and slated for demolition in Berkeley have been spared and will be used for a whole new purpose.
The two single-family ranch houses are located on Beach Avenue and Dorrance Drive in the Good Luck Point section of town. This is overlooking the Barnegat Bay, east of Route 9. They came into Ocean County ownership as part of a hazard mitigation plan. Both will now be used for affordable housing.
Ocean County Commissioner Virginia E. Haines, who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Natural Lands Trust program, said, “I am happy to announce a partnership with Berkeley Township to save these homes and be able to use them in other areas for families.”
“We are planning to enter into an agreement with Berkeley Township where we donate the structures and the township is responsible for relocating them. I am not aware of this being done elsewhere,” Haines added.
She said, “this partnership brings the benefit of affordable home ownership to someone or a family. What could be better?”
The County acquired properties within the Good Luck Point section of Berkeley Township for flood mitigation purposes under the Ocean County Natural Lands Trust Fund Program. When a property is in danger of flooding often, it is sometimes less costly to purchase it than to keep rebuilding it with federal funds every time.
“Some of these properties include structures scheduled for demolition. Working with Berkeley Township, we have identified two single-family ranch homes that are in good condition and could be repurposed,” Haines remarked.
Berkeley will work with a nonprofit under the agreement to have the structures moved and transported to Manitou Park. This is a section of Berkeley that’s actually next to South Toms River. It’s where a lot of the town’s affordable housing is being built. Every town, by law, has to set aside a certain amount of homes for people who make less than the average income.
When Superstorm Sandy roared ashore on October 29, 2012, Good Luck Point was one of the areas in Ocean County that suffered catastrophic damage. Since that time, Ocean County has been working to acquire properties there under the Federal Emergency Management Administration’s Hazard Mitigation Grant program. Fifteen properties have been acquired so far.
Along with those properties, the County has sought to expand the Good Luck Point project area through direct acquisition of properties using funds from the county open space preservation program.
The property located on Beach Avenue is surrounded by existing county Natural Lands Trust property and the other on Dorrance Drive is adjacent to a lot acquired by the county under the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant.
Haines noted, “the purchase is helping in our land preservation efforts and also to help with hazard mitigation in the future should we ever see another major storm. It makes far more sense to save these homes if they are in good condition and allow for a future use, than to demolish them, when they have a value for someone.”
Details of the transfer are still being worked out. Upon removal, any remaining improvements on the properties will be demolished and the sites will be returned to natural states. Bulkheading at the Dorrance Drive property will be maintained until it can be safely restored to a natural shoreline.