PERTH AMBOY, N.J. -

The federal government has rejected a request by New Jersey officials to drop rules that many Superstorm Sandy victims say are among the biggest impediments to rebuilding more quickly.

In a letter to state officials obtained late Tuesday by The Associated Press, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says it cannot waive requirements that people applying for New Jersey's Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation program stop work on their homes when they apply to the program.

New Jersey officials had asked the department to eliminate the rule, which has been the source of many complaints from homeowners struggling to rebuild after the Oct. 2012 storm.

HUD says the rule is intended to make sure historically significant properties aren't damaged or demolished, and that aid is not duplicated.