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Managing Property Buyouts at the Local Level: Seeking Benefits and Limiting Harms

June 2018

Citation: ELR 10520

Author: Thomas Ruppert, John Fergus, and Enio Russe-Garcia

Efforts to conduct buyouts of at-risk properties are an increasingly popular resilience tool, especially in response to massive flooding losses in recent years and the financial predicament of the National Flood Insurance Program. Calls for buyouts increased after Superstorm Sandy, with both New York and New Jersey dedicating funds to voluntary buyout programs. In some communities, an exclusive focus on the vulnerability of individual properties may lead to an implementation that causes harm to neighborhoods and communities. Based on development of a model local government ordinance for Florida communities, this Article analyzes how communities can participate in and support buyout implementation to seek to achieve the benefits of reduced flood risk while avoiding the most negative impacts of buyouts. It details the need for careful drafting due to federal and state requirements, which may require targeted exemptions limiting local government support for and implementation of specific federal or state buyout programs.

Thomas Ruppert is an Attorney and Coastal Planning Specialist with the Florida Sea Grant College Program. John Fergus is a resident of Satellite Beach, Florida, and a retired U.S. Air Force member. Enio Russe-Garcia holds a J.D. (2018) from Florida State University College of Law, is a State-Certified General Real Estate Appraiser (RZ 3058), and is a LEED Green Associate.

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