Township approached by nonprofit for technical assistance for flooding

Medford Township Council weighed its options to entering a program by N.J. Future to provide resources to the township at no charge.

During the Sept. 16 council meeting, Zoning Officer Beth Portocalis said the nonprofit approached the township after passing on it initially some time ago. She went on to add it came back around after reviewing the township’s 2017 ordinance that allowed the township to remain certified for FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program, work the OEM offices are doing and recent flooding issues.

They feel we have the capability to go into the program, but we would have to execute a memorandum of agreement in order to be the recipient,” Portocalis said. “The FEMA CRS [Community Rating System] would be offered to the township at no charge.

Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Lt. Robert Dovi Jr. previously applied for the CRS program for the township to help provide “flood resiliency” and to prepare for new stormwater management regulations the township believes the state Department of Environmental Protection will roll out.

Dovi added Burlington City is the only municipality he believes in the county that is a CRS community.

He also stated CRS communities are along the coast or the Delaware River, and FEMA is looking at more inland municipalities due to the significant amounts of flooding that has occurred in recent history.

If Medford were to become a CRS community, residents who have applied for, and accepted, flood insurance through the NFIP could see savings in their insurance policies.

[FEMA will] scale us on points, and the more we acquire doing certain things like maintaining elevation certificates, providing map service information to residents, flood data maintenance, looking at open space preservation – the more points we get, the bigger discounts residents get on their NFIP,” Dovi stated.

When the application was first sent to FEMA, Dovi said there were roughly 226 policyholders in the township, and it could be higher as of today due to the summer storms.

Portocalis added engineers from FEMA reside in the township and know, firsthand, how flooding affects it and are “more than happy to help Medford alleviate it.”

Councilman Frank Czekay inquired if the township has an obligation to partner with N.J. Future once the nonprofit provides it with a full report, and if it’s a government agency.

Portocalis said it’s a nonprofit nonpartisan organization “that works closely with state agencies” and township Solicitor Tyler Prime said he hasn’t looked into if there’s an obligation to join or not.

We don’t have a strict deadline, but they’d want to know sooner rather than later in case Medford were to pass on this, they’d move on to someone else,” Portocalis said.

Council agreed to have Prime look into the organization more to review its obligations before making a final judgment in joining.

In other news:

  • Public Works is addressing concerns at Medford Park where signs had overgrown trees, benches were in bodies of water and portions of fencing were damaged. Additionally, the fencing at the park is expected to be widened as part of the Burlington County Municipal Park Grant by November, weather permitting.
  • Council agreed to form a subcommittee to further review boats and other watercraft parked on residential properties and to study how other, similar towns have addressed the issue.
  • Bathrooms are now open to the public at Bob Meyer Park, Medford Park and Freedom Park. They unlock at 8 a.m. and lock at dusk.

The next council meeting is scheduled for Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. at the Public Safety Building.