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TRENTON-Just a year ago, portions of New Jersey, especially the Somerset County communities of Bound Brook and Manville, were under several feet of water thanks to the remnants of Hurricane Floyd, images that made the national media. Floyd also hit tenants in the cities of Passaic, Lodi, Trenton, Paterson and South Hackensack hard. While a bill recently approved by the Community and Urban Affairs Committee of the NJ State Senate might not be able to hold back the forces of Mother Nature, it will help business and residential tenants know what they’re getting into.

The bill, if passed by the full Senate, would require building owners to warn prospective tenants of business complexes or apartment buildings that a facility lies in a flood zone. Under current NJ law, prospective building owners can find out about flood danger, usually through the title search process, but tenants have no such protection. A tenant not notified of the flood danger could seek damages from a building owner if the business or residence subsequently suffers flood damage. The proposal passed the State Assembly in June, and is now on its way to the full Senate, where approval is expected.

A second bill, also en route to the full Senate, would give the City of Cranford, Union County, $3.25 million to fund flood control measures. That legislation was actually proposed some 14 months before Floyd to control flood-prone portions of the city.

In the wake of Floyd, some $331 million in flood control-related construction is finally underway–some 27 years after it was first talked about–in communities hard-hit by the 1999 storm. The work will create a system of bridges, levees and dams in and around Bound Brook, Manville, plus Plainfield, North Plainfield and the borough of Middlesex. The work is aimed at controlling the Raritan River, the largest waterway entirely within the state’s borders, and a branch of the river called Green Brook.

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