TRENTON - Homeowners in flood-prone areas may soon be bought out after floodwaters from Hurricane Irene forced countless numbers of homeowners to rebuild. A bill designed to help those homeowners passed another step in the state Legislature today.

If passed, the law would allow counties and local towns to use open space preservation money to purchase the properties from homeowners.

If the law is passed, towns can't spend more than $100,000 on a property without a public hearing.