Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Geller Calls on New Gated Communities Ordinance to Allow Debris Removal

ORLANDO -- Community advocate Rick Geller expressed concern that a draft Orange County gated communities ordinance does not preserve and codify the County's commitment to seek FEMA reimbursement in the event large scale debris removal on private roads becomes necessary and in the public interest.

"FEMA changed its rules last summer to now allow for the possibility of reimbursing local governments for hurricane debris removal in private and gated communities," Geller said. "FEMA, however, requires that a local government authorize itself to seek reimbursement."

Orange County's Public Works Dept.'s Sept. 2007 Fact Sheet stated the following policy, "In the instance that Orange County is subject to a large-scale disaster where it is in the public interest to remove large-scale debris on private property, prior to commencing the work, the County will submit a request for reimbursement and seek approval from the Federal coordinating officer, in accordance with 44 CFR 206.224."

"Orange County's gated communities ordinance should codify this commitment to protect both the County and homeowners," Geller said.

After the 2004 hurricanes, homeowners in gated and non-gated communities with private roads incurred tens of thousands of dollars in debris removal costs because Orange County refused to provide debris removal service absent FEMA reimbursement.