Little Egg Harbor sees $200,000 revenue loss from permit fee waiver
Two southern Ocean County mainland towns have been inundated with construction permit requests since early last month as rebuilding begins following Hurricane Sandy, and Little Egg Harbor Township is losing money in the process.
Little Egg Harbor Township Administrator Garrett Loesch said the township has lost about $200,000 in revenue after waiving permit fees last month. The fees were waived for any work being done for storm-related damage.
The fees will be waived until Dec. 31, Loesch said. Permits range in cost from $60 to $1,200, said Jay Haines, township construction officer.
As of Dec. 24, the township had received almost 700 applications for construction permits, and most of them have been approved, Loesch said.
“The original intention for this waiver recommendation was because we did not feel it was proper to make money off of people who have just lost everything,” he said.
On Thursday afternoon, Tim Hague waited patiently in line outside the Construction Office to complete his permit application for his Mystic Islands home on North Burgee Drive. Inside his home after the storm there was three and a half feet of water.
“This definitely helps a lot that they’re waiving the permit (fees). Because of the depreciation of everything, this makes up for it. I come from North Jersey, and they’re not that quick up there,” Hague said.
The township also determined that the Construction Office was financially solvent going into the last three months of the year, so waiving the fees would not have much of an impact.
Two full-time and one part-time employee in the Construction Office have been working around the clock, including weekends, as homeowners and contractors continue to line up daily to submit permit applications, Haines said.
“But the hardest part for people to understand is that when it comes to construction money it is supposed to be dedicated to expenses within the department. The waivers have to stop Dec. 31 to avoid budgetary issues next year. We can’t continue it another two or three months,” Loesch said.
About 4,000 of the township’s 11,500 homes have moderate to severe damage from the storm, Loesch said. He added that FEMA determined 2,800 homes had flood insurance and 2,200 had FEMA claims.
Waivers are not being granted on permit applications for home demolitions because of additional engineering costs involved, said Haines.
The majority of the construction permits being approved are for homes in the township’s Mystic Islands, Osborn Island and Great Bay Boulevard sections, Haines said.
“We are requiring permits because of resale situations down the road and with the flooding issues, people can go back and say that the township did approve a permit application,” he said.
The state Department of Community Affairs released guidelines last month for construction permits for the repair of storm-damaged single-family homes.
Permits are not required when the work is cosmetic, including, roof shingle, flashing, siding, window, plaster, board walls, ceilings and bathroom tiles repair or replacement.
Permits are required for structural work on repairs or replacements on “roof rafters, roof ridge beams, structural window and interior doorway headers; ceiling and floor beams; main girders; exterior wall framing; interior bearing walls; foundation walls; chimneys; retaining walls”; and structures such as garages or sheds, an information sheet from the DCA states.
In Stafford Township, construction permit fees were waived during the month of November, but this month the regular fee schedule resumed, said township Administrator Jim Moran. Fees are not being assessed on permits to have electricity or gas service restored at properties, Moran said.
Most permits were issued after Dec. 1, with very little permit activity last month, he said. Since Nov. 5, the township has issued 256 construction permits, most of them for homes in the Beach Haven West section of the township that has 4,600 homes.
Because of the lack of permit application activity and the abbreviated waiver time period, Moran said, Stafford Township did not experience the revenue loss of Little Egg Harbor.
“I don’t have a figure, but it was nowhere near that kind of money. Whatever we lost, we lost. We just had to get people back in their houses,” Moran said.
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