Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Concern over floodplain development

From SI Live: While neighbors plead with the government to buy and raze their flooded homes, one developer has plans to build 20 new semi-attached houses in the middle of wetlands that were swamped by Hurricane Sandy -- something Councilman James Oddo is asking the city and state to reconsider allowing. "What we're asking for is to have the city and state say, 'Time out, let's look at the specifics of this project,' and ask ourselves: Does it make sense to build more homes in this area, even if the homes are built almost in accordance to the new standards?" Oddo asked beside the property Monday. The plans call for eight homes along Seaview Avenue, near Patterson Avenue in Ocean Breeze -- a stone's throw away from Quincy and Buel avenues where people drowned in their homes. Another 12 units would be built behind them by extending Liberty Avenue into what is now a marshy area filled with phragmites. The architect for the project, Stanley Krebushevski, has not yet returned a call requesting comment. The property owner is listed on permit applications as Shalom Property, based in Scarsdale, but the phone number listed for the company goes to an accounting firm. A message left at the firm was not returned. The homes would be built to current base flood elevations -- not the advisory ones -- but the first floor wouldn't be living space, which would minimize the impact on flood insurance. The homes would have basements, Oddo said. "I don't want to say that they are building drastically outside of what the [advisory base flood elevations] are, or what we expect for the final flood elevations to be, but when you look at the overheads and you look at how they're building in the wetlands, it is problematic to me," Oddo said. Even if the proposed homes survive the next storm unscathed thanks to their elevation and new construction, the removal of the 481 square feet of natural wetlands on which they sat -- which will be mitigated by adding about 9,000 square feet of new wetlands and preserving another 34,000 square feet -- could impact other, older homes, Oddo said. "We've seen that across the Island, when there's more development and less natural area to drain, it exacerbates the problem," Oddo said. Oddo said even though new wetlands would be added, removing the wetlands that have always existed -- and to which water naturally flows -- could be a problem.

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