PRINCESS ANNE, Md. (AP) — Maryland has removed property buyouts on Smith Island from a Hurricane Sandy recovery plan.

Housing and Community Development Secretary Raymond Skinner told Somerset County Commissioners on Thursday that the department took buyouts off the table in response to the overwhelming opposition of public comments.

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The Daily Times of Salisbury reports that state officials submitted a final version of the plan to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on Wednesday. The plan for $8.6 million in federal grants includes $6 million for housing rehabilitation on and $1 million for economic development.

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The announcement was a surprise to commissioners and Smith Islanders. Commissioners had asked state officials to remove the buyout option, but Skinner had said he wanted to leave it in to help islanders who wanted to leave.

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