An Open Letter to the DEP, by Stephen Francis
I am sure you have received communications concerning the Bridge Point 8(BP8) application, especially considering the new Inland Flood Protection Rule was signed by Governor Murphy. No doubt you (DEP) are being lobbied by the developers of BP8.
I have been a West Windsor resident since 1989. My family has been through many storms and has been severely impacted by inland flooding. We suffered significant financial loss and emotional stress from Hurricane Irene. We had flood insurance and we thought we would at least be covered for typical flood damage. We received 30% reimbursement of our actual losses, not counting the incalculable losses of family mementos. We also invested tens of thousands of dollars in housing infrastructure such as a whole house generator, redundant sump pumps and foundation bracing. I might add, our home is six inches above the base flood elevation so technically we do not even need flood insurance. These losses and additional costs are not tax deductible.
The Bridge Point 8 developers will lobby that they will face a hardship if they have to go back to the drawing board and start the application process again. I would argue that they have known about the new flood maps since they were issued. They COULD HAVE chosen to design for today and the future, but instead, they chose to fast track approvals through the township during Covid-19. That was a time when residents were dealing with the shut down and their attention was focused on family matters. There was no time to monitor what the township planning board and council were doing, and how the township did the absolute minimum to communicate that the proposed development was clearly for the benefit of the developer. The planning board chose to suppress community involvement by not allowing virtual participation, which was illegal at the time.
The inconvenience Bridge Point 8 will experience is minor compared to the financial and emotional toll of inland flooding that many families will experience if we do not act now.
The Bridge Point 8 application is still in its early stages and has many other issues beyond the flood rules. The one-time costs that Bridge Point 8 will incur by having to re-factor their plans are tax deductible and miniscule compared to the costs incurred by the impacted residents, and the state, for relief funding in perpetuity. Do the right thing. Protect West Windsor and New Jerseyans against climate threats NOW, not when it's too late.