Standing in front of an Island Park home that is being elevated almost four years after Hurricane Sandy, Supervisor Anthony J. Santino and Councilman Anthony D’Esposito are proposing a new law that would streamline the process and reduce the cost of elevating houses for a new wave of homeowners who live in the FEMA Flood Plain within Hempstead Town. The Supervisor and Councilman were joined by homeowner Tom Schreiber at the press announcement.
“We are eager to make it easier for a new wave of homeowners to rebuild, repair and elevate their houses,” stated Santino. “Cutting through red tape in the building permit process will save time and money for property owners.”
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the town waived its building variance requirement to elevate certain homes in compliance with FEMA flood height guidelines. Specifically, homes that were eligible had to meet the following criteria:
· The subject property had to be within the FEMA Flood Plain.
· The home had to have been flood damaged in Hurricane Sandy.
· The waiver applied only to homeowners who held title to the subject property at the time of the Superstorm.
Under the Santino/D’Esposito proposal, the only remaining pre-requisite would stipulate that eligible homes be in the FEMA Flood Plain. The officials’ legislation would do away with preconditions that the house had to have been flood damaged in the Superstorm, and that the current owner must have held the property title at the time of Hurricane Sandy.
“People are still rebuilding their homes all these years after Hurricane Sandy,” said D’Esposito. “Many neighbors have sold their properties after the storm, and new homeowners should not be required to get a building variance to elevate their homes.”
The new law was precipitated by conversations between the officials and homeowners in flood-prone south shore communities. Many neighbors who were not flooded in Hurricane Sandy, but who live within the FEMA Flood Plain, expressed a desire to elevate homes for insurance purposes and for their own safety. Additionally, property owners who purchased homes after the Superstorm indicated that they should not be penalized for purchasing a home that is flood prone after Sandy hit our area.
Hempstead Town has witnessed 500 houses being elevated since Superstorm Sandy, and another 500 are in the process of increasing foundation heights. The new law, if passed, could affect 20,000 houses in the Flood Plain.
“A host of new issues have developed in communities that are confronted by the threat of tidal flooding,” said Santino. “New homeowners are improving their properties and those who were not flooded in the Superstorm are looking to safeguard their houses from coastal floodwaters in the future. Hempstead Town is here to help these neighbors.”
Waiving the variance requirement for home elevations in the flood plain will offer financial savings and reduce the time needed to secure permits. Fees, legal costs and other expenses associated with obtaining a variance could easily exceed $1,000 according to Santino and D’Esposito. The time required to secure a variance could add as much as two months to the building process.
The Hempstead Town Board has also continued to waive all building department permit fees for “in-kind” reconstruction and repair of homes impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Those fee waivers were extended at a July 5th town board meeting, continuing through December 31, 2016.
“Hempstead Town is a great place in which to live,” concluded Santino. “By waiving building variance requirements for those people who own flood-prone properties, we are making the process of rebuilding homes and lives quicker and less costly.”