If your home was severely affected or destroyed by Hurricane Harvey, there might be a solution for you soon. At the March 20th meeting of Commissioner’s Court, Emergency Management Coordinator for the county David Lilly explained they are applying for a new grant, which would allow the county the opportunity to buy out certain properties.
Lilly explains what the buy out would mean.
“The county buys the property from the owner at the pre-Harvey appraised value. The property owner then has two weeks to vacate the property. And then we are responsible for coming in and removing anything that remains on the property, and basically turn it into green space,” said Lilly. “The result is the county owns that property, but the property is no longer develop-able. It is no longer taxable.”
Lilly says the county would consider buying out property that has a history of flooding, especially in the recent four years events. But, to qualify for this opportunity as a homeowner effected by Harvey, you have to meet three key qualifications.
“One is they have to won the home of course. Secondly, the home has to be in the defined flood zone, or ‘A’ zone. And the third primary criteria is they had to have had impact and provide proof of impact from Harvey,” Lilly said.
The grant will give the county $1.5 million dollars in funds to buy out land. The city of Navasota declined to be part of the grant, citing maintenance costs and other issues with it. Iola and Bedias did not have any one who met the criteria within their city limits, so the grant would apply to more rural parts of the county and Todd Mission, namely Mill Creek Estates.
But, as Lilly points out, landowners absolutely do not have to agree to sell their land to the county.
“We do have the option as a county to use imminent domain. I strongly advise against doing that, I do not believe in that myself. If I really felt that a particular property owner’s life was in danger, then I would do everything in my power to persuade them to accept the buyout,” Lilly said. “But, the homeowner can say no. They do not have to accept the buyout either.”
The motion with the court was to approve application for the grant, which Commissioner Cox voted against until seeing a map of the flood zones. The county has until April 30th to submit the grant application.