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Grant to help Conway pay for Transvale Acres buy-out

CONWAY - The Transvale Acres buyout project is a step closer to implementation, as Conway town officials recently got the news that the town's application for a Community Development Block Grant was approved.

The $266,000 grant from the N.H. Community Development Finance Authority, coupled with a hazard mitigation grant from FEMA of about $600,000, will allow the town to buy out 13 property owners in the Saco River community.

Steve Solomon, Conway emergency management director and chief of the Conway Fire Department, said Monday that they expect to hear from FEMA in mid-November. Once the town gets the OK, officials will begin the process of purchasing the homes. The town will then demolish the buildings and return the lots to green space.

Kevin Flynn, CDFA communications director, said: 'The buy-out program is a chance to help low-to-moderate-income residents who can't sell or rebuild and help the town to remove structures which are life and safety hazards. While FEMA will pay for most of the effort, they required Conway to pay 25 percent of the cost. This CDBG grant will fund the town's match, which would have been burdensome to the municipal budget.'

The development was hard-hit by tropical storm Irene, when the river crested above 17 feet. Flood stage is nine feet. About half of Transvale Acres is in the floodway, with 98 percent of it in the floodplain.

After the devastation brought by Irene, and the rescues during the storm, brought greater attention to the neighborhood from the town, state and federal agencies, town officials were more aggressive in enforcing ordinances and going after violations.

Some structures were grandfathered, since they were in place before the town adopted federal floodplain regulations. Several property owners, after being denied variances from the Conway Zoning Board of Approval, took the town to court.

The owners of one of those camp lot properties, James and Beverly Duggan, recently lost their court case, according to Earl Sires, town manager. The town removed the structure, a pavilion with a cement slab, and is billing the couple for the work, plus legal expenses.


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