Township's Flood Prone Property Acquisition Policy

The Board of Supervisors of Whitemarsh Township finds that there are certain privately owned single-family residential properties in the Township that, even though not located near a waterway with a mapped floodplain, are subject to recurrent flooding due to major storms, and finds that some of those properties have not been eligible for funding provided by government flood programs for acquisition of those properties. In order to address the long-term status of such properties and to relieve the burden experienced by the property owners to the extent that Township action may provide such relief, the Board finds that it is appropriate to establish a policy for consideration of acquisition of such properties for open space purposes, in accordance with the Open Space Lands Act, 32 P.S. §§ 5001 et seq., together with procedures for implementation of this Policy, and in accordance with the Open Space Plan amendment adopted 
by the Board after a public hearing on April 26, 2012. 

Single-family residential properties eligible for acquisition by the Township pursuant to this Policy shall meet all of the following characteristics:
  • The property has incurred severe repetitive flood damage documented by damage assessment(s) performed by Township Emergency Management Department personnel, and the property is not eligible for flooded property acquisition programs administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and/or the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, or similar programs;
  • Located outside any identified, planned or completed remediation area subject to Township stormwater management projects, unless the Township Engineer determines that it is necessary to include any particular property as an integral part of a flood 
    mitigation plan; 
  • The property is not located near a waterway with a mapped floodplain; and
  • Having an appraised value of no greater than $500,000.00
The process for acquisition of eligible properties shall be as follows: 
  • The property owner shall submit a request to the Township Manager, in writing, addressed to the Board of Supervisors, for consideration of acquisition of the property. Such request shall include a complete description of the history of the property’s flooding and shall include a copy of any seller’s disclosure statement provided to the property owner at the time of purchase of the property. 
  • The Board of Supervisors shall determine whether the property is eligible for acquisition pursuant to Act 153 and the Township’s Open Space Plan and, if so, shall formally designate the property as one that the Township is interested in acquiring for open space purposes. 
  • The Township Manager shall, upon direction of the Board of Supervisors, order an appraisal of the property, to be prepared by a certified appraiser selected by the Township at the expense of the property owner. 
  • Upon receipt of the appraisal, the Township Manager shall provide notice to affected landowners and shall schedule and advertise a public hearing before the Board of Supervisors, at which the Board will consider the acquisition of the property and provide 
    an opportunity for public comment. 
  • The Board of Supervisors shall determine, following the public hearing, whether it is in the interest of the Township to acquire the property, and, if the Board decides to proceed with acquisition, shall set the price for acquisition, which shall be no more than the 
    appraised value. 
  • In the event the Board of Supervisors decides to proceed with acquisition, the Township Manager shall submit a written offer to the property owner, at the price set by the Board, subject to a title search. 
  • The property owner shall have no more than thirty (30) days to accept or reject the offer, in writing, addressed to the Township Manager. 
  • In the event the property owner accepts the Township’s offer, the Township Manager and Township Solicitor shall proceed to take the steps necessary to complete the acquisition, including, without limitation, obtaining a title report for the property. Title insurance shall be obtained at the expense of the Township and closing costs shall be borne by the Township. 
  • The cost of demolition shall be negotiated with the property owner prior to acquisition. 
  • The deed conveying the property to the Township shall contain a deed restriction limiting the property to those uses providing open space benefits as defined in Act 153. 
  • he property owner shall execute a waiver to the effect that the Township will not be obligated to pay for any expenses associated with owner’s move from the premises, other than payment for the acquisition in accordance with the appraisal. 
NOTE: This policy is intended to establish guidelines only, and any determination by the Township to proceed with an offer for acquisition of an eligible property is subject to the absolute discretion of the Board of Supervisors.