Council subcommittee OKs Sandy zoning changes
Vote could cut red tape for homeowners, officials say
A vote by a key City Council subcommittee that took place on Monday is the first step in an effort to cut red tape for Superstorm Sandy victims seeking to rebuild their homes, officials said.
The Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises approved the Special Regulations for Neighborhood Recovery text amendment that had been submitted by the Mayor’s Office of Housing Recovery, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the Department of City Planning to establish special zoning rules that would apply specifically to Sandy-damaged residences within the city’s flood zones.
The text amendment would pave the way for the city’s Build it Back program to speed up the pace of rebuilding in places like Coney Island, Staten Island and the Rockaways, according to officials.
The full City Council is scheduled to vote on the measure on Thursday.
The text amendment seeks to simplify and expedite the process of elevating and/or reconstructing one- and two-family homes. The amendment would also establish a new zoning envelope for narrow and shallow lots to allow for appropriate contextual new construction.
The Mayor’s Office of Housing Recovery estimated that the text amendment will help elevate and rebuild 2,000 homes while at the same time lower the cost of flood insurance for homeowners living within the flood zone.
Amy Peterson, director of the Mayor’s Office of Housing Recovery, said the idea for the text amendment came from residents and civic leaders in Queens.
“The idea for the amendment came out of a community-level meeting in Queens; it was produced with collaboration across agencies and it is being passed to help homeowners who were stuck because of burdensome regulations so that their homes are rebuilt and their neighborhoods made more resilient,” Peterson said in a statement. “It is one more piece of a comprehensive program overhaul that has enabled almost every homeowner to receive an offer, and that has ensured that over 4,000 have received reimbursement and over 1,400 have started construction — both compared to zero when this administration took over.”
Councilmember Mark Treyger (D-Coney Island-Gravesend-Bensonhurst), who is the chairman of the Council Committee on Recovery and Resiliency, praised Monday’s vote.
“This vote today will go a long way towards removing red tape that has bogged down the housing recovery effort and will help move along Sandy rebuilding efforts,” Treyger said in a statement issued Monday. “Actions like today’s vote will ensure that we see progress on the ground in impacted neighborhoods across the city.”
Councilmember Donovan Richards, chair of the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises, said changing the city’s zoning text is an important step toward helping New Yorkers whose lives were upended by Sandy.
“This text amendment is the light at the end of the tunnel for many homeowners still struggling to rebuild their homes nearly three years after Sandy,” Richards (D-Far Rockaway) said. “The removal of these regulatory barriers eliminates the majority of the red tape that deterred property owners from elevating their homes and moving forward in the Build it Back program.”
Superstorm Sandy hit New York City on Oct. 29, 2012, flooding hundreds of buildings in shorefront communities like Coney Island.
For more information on the Special Regulations for Neighborhood Recovery, visit http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/special-regulations-neighborhood/special-neigh-reg1.shtml.
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