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Rock County lands flood grant

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ANN MARIE AMES
August 21, 2009

The Rock County planning department Thursday learned it will get $786,934 to buy and tear down five houses substantially damaged by 2008 flooding.


Itís good news for a few homeowners.


But based on the length of time it took to get the news, one county official doesnít anticipate the next steps will happen quickly.


The houses are in Rock, Janesville and Fulton townships, said Dave Somppi, community development manager for the county.


The county will use the grant money to buy the houses and tear them down. Homeowners could be reimbursed for the cost of relocating. The structures will be torn down, and houses will never again be built on the properties, Somppi said.


Somppi said the addresses are not yet public record. But he did say two of the properties are contiguous, and all five are on less than 1 acre each.


The grant award is the first step in the process of clearing properties that were substantially damaged, Somppi said. The grant application was voluntary, and the county only filed the application on behalf of the property owners that asked for it.


A year ago, county planning officials thought as many as 80 houses were damaged so badly they would have to be torn down.


The next step will be to have the homes appraised to determine the specific buyout prices, Somppi said. Then the county will negotiate with the homeowners, he said.


Judging by the speed of the process, it could be January before the houses can be torn down. If the weather doesnít cooperate at that point, the county could have to wait until spring, Somppi said.


The Rock County Board ultimately will decide what the county will do with the properties, Somppi said. The county was in charge of flood mitigation for the houses located outside the cities of Beloit and Janesville.


On July 6, Janesville officials learned the city would get $933,563 to buy nine homes damaged in the 2008 flood.


Most are in the Mole & Sadlerís subdivision on the west shore of the Rock River south of Riverside Park. Another is at 809 S. Jackson St.


For all 14 homes, the city and the countyódepending on which is in charge of a particular homeówill have to pitch in some money. The state also will pitch in money.


The federal money comes from the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program through the U.S. Department of Homeland Securityís Federal Emergency Management Agency.



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