By Robin Rieger
SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. (CBS) — Sunday night was expected to be the last night in Seaside Heights without overnight residents since Superstorm Sandy hit in October. While the town still has quite a recovery ahead, on Monday it was expected to welcome back to live residents of single family homes who have gotten certificates of occupancy.
Officials say over a hundred certificates of occupancy have been granted already, certifying a storm damaged home is safe to live in with utilities restored.
“A lot of them have been here already getting fixed up, getting certificates of occupancy with electric and gas and stuff like that,” says Michael Graichen of Seaside Heights. “They’re pretty excited.”
When those homeowners come onto the island Monday, they won’t have to depart at the new 10 p.m. curfew that will also signal businesses to close. Homeowners without certificates of occupancy will have to leave. Police will maintain checkpoints and be on patrol.
“It’s a big move for us,” says Graichen.
He says on January 15th, they hope to start granting certificates of occupancy for multi-family dwellings and motels. By then, he says, work is expected to have started on the backbone of the community, the boardwalk.
“75% of our tax base is on businesses and recreation on the beach,” Graichen says, “and the other 25% is on the taxpayers’ back.
Michael Carbone owns the beachcomber bar and grill on the boardwalk. He’s looking forward to staying open until 10 p.m., instead of 4 p.m.
“How can you come for dinner when we close at 4 (p.m.),” Carbone says. “This very good. It’s a step in the right direction.”
The town’s welcome sign reflects its hope for the future. It reads: “Seaside Will Be Rebuilt To New And Greater Heights!!!”
“As long as we have the nice weather,” Graichen says, “the hot summer and our boardwalk is back together again, Seaside will be Seaside once again.”