News

N.J. Mayor Bans Woman From Selling Home

Says Town Of Hillsdale Can't Do Without Her $7,000 In Taxes
Flooded N.J. home

The owner of this unlivable home in New Jersey thought she had made a deal with a state agency to take the flood-prone dwlling off her hands, but her town’s mayor is blocking the deal. (Photo: CBS 2)

Christine Sloan thumbnail Christine Sloan
Emmy-award winning journalist Christine Sloan joined CBS 2 News in...
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HILLSDALE, N.J. (CBS 2) — A homeowner says her house is unlivable because it constantly floods. She thought relief was in sight when she got accepted into a state program that would take the home off of her hands.

The only problem is her town is saying no way.

The woman who owns the home recently moved out of the country. She said the home is unlivable because of constant flooding over the years, including water from Hurricane Floyd in 1999.

Rosanne Vaccaro talked to CBS 2’s Christine Sloan by phone from London on Monday.

“We’re the only property down there that’s built on a slab, so when water comes in it doesn’t go into our basement, goes directly into our living room and our kitchen,” Vaccaro said.

Vaccaro said she was just given an opportunity to get her head above water, getting accepted into a state Department of Environmental Protection program called Blue Acres. It buys properties in flood zones areas, but Vaccaro said the mayor of Hillsdale is blocking the deal.

“I cannot get on with my life. I cannot get on with my life while I own this property. I live in London. I am married now, yet I am constantly paying for a property that no one can live in,” Vaccaro said.

Mayor Max Arnowitz didn’t want to be interviewed on camera, but he told Sloan the town can’t afford to lose $7,000 in taxes it gets from Vaccaro every year. He also said he’s worried other homes in the area may do the same thing, costing the borough more tax dollars.

The mayor said: “Hundreds of other homes are for sale in this economy and they won’t sell. why should all taxpayers absorb the loss?”

Still, at least one other neighbor questioned the mayor’s reasoning.

“I don’t think it’s right. I know the water comes down from up there and goes right into the house ‘cause it’s built on ground level,” resident Rachel Oostdyk said.

But the mayor said the house was built without the proper permits by Vaccaro’s father and there are deed restrictions that relieve the town of all responsibilities.

However, Vaccaro said her dad originally built the house for someone else and that she will keep fighting.

A DEP spokesperson said the agency can’t force the town to sign off on a deal, but that there are other neighbors in this community interested in the Blue Acres program, which was created to give homeowners fair market value for their properties.

A spokesperson said the state of New Jersey has bought hundreds of homes, turning properties into state land and this is the first time a town is objecting.