TRENTON - (AP) - A proposal to allow New Jersey towns to buyflood-prone properties using open space funds gets its firstlegislative hearing on Thursday.

The legislation would allow municipalities to establish BlueAcres programs to compliment open space efforts.

Money raised through local open space taxes would be used to buyout homeowners, knock down flood-prone structures and turn theproperty into parks.

The approach would keep taxpayers from repeatedly paying torepair flooded properties while providing a buffer to help protectnearby properties from flooding.

The Sierra Club is among the groups supporting the bill.However, director Jeff Tittel says a permanent statewide source ofopen space funding is needed.

The Senate Budget Committee will take up the proposal Thursdayafternoon.