Saturday, May 25, 2013

New zoning rules for flood areas

From Crains:

Up and down the coast of New York and New Jersey, property owners are being forced to raise their homes and businesses above a new 100-year floodplain drawn up and mandated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In the five boroughs, elevating multistory buildings present a particular problem.

"FEMA does this all over the country, but by-and-large, New York looks different than a lot of these places," said Howard Slatkin, the Department of City Planning's director of sustainability. "In addition to small homes, we've got rowhouses and apartment buildings and a streetscape we want to maintain."

On Monday, the city put forward its plan to address these problems by certifying a slew of proposed zoning changes that would allow for the elevation of buildings. For the past seven months, Mr. Slatkin and a team at the City Planning Department have been wrestling with the challenge of coming up with a way to fortify the city against future storms without destroying the urban character that makes New York unique.

If buildings must be raised five, eight, even 12 feet up on stilts, planners fear it could deaden New York's vibrant street life along coastal areas. In other words, will Jane Jacobs float?

The proposal "will relieve conflicts between zoning and steps owners of buildings in flood zones can take to make their buildings more flood resilient," said City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden. "It will enable [owners] to rebuild or retrofit [properties] to new flood protection standards and help restore the same amount of living and working space they were previously permitted."

The proposals will now be vetted over the next six months through the city's public review process, with input from the community boards in affected coastal areas across the city from Staten Island to the Bronx. The provisions will only be until a year after FEMA issues its final flood maps, expected in 2015, because the zoning changes are being undertaken through an expedited emergency zoning program. The city will study the provisions it puts in place now to create a more thorough zoning proposal to be implemented in the future.

The city has already waived some zoning rules through an executive order following the storm, but these new zoning changes will be more permanent and nuanced.


Jerry Rotondi said...

I love it! history repeats itself in odd ways.

It's back to Medieval days with high walls surrounding these yuppie castles. This time it's to stop the invading floods, not the Viking raiders!

Why should tax payers support these rich follies?

We already do--you know!
Well, who's supporting NYC's middle class?
Certainly not Bum-berg and his buddies!

Anonymous said...

I don't own a yuppie castle, I own a typical circa 1930 Queens 1 fam on a 40x100 on a block that has never seen a house flooded until now. No way can I afford to raise my house 11 feet on a Soc Sec income.

Anonymous said...

so your house wasn't flooded by the 1938 hurricane that was a lot more powerful than Sandy?

Anonymous said...

We have to demand they put geological surveys from the 1920s online so we can determine where our property was before the lanfill.

Anonymous said...

The oldest house on my block dates from 1924, it never was flooded before. It still had its basement with original wall coverings and flooring until Sandy. The current owner is the son of the original owner and he knows it never flooded. When I bought mine in 1968, it had original walls and floors in the basement that I ripped out and replaced. Nothing about them indicated they had ever been water-soaked, so my assumption is the 1938 hurricane didn't flood it.

Anonymous said...


Now what are they going to do about the toxic sludge and sewage in the lobby?

... or that most of the water front housing are built on superfund sites

... or that billions will be needed to reconnect isolated waterfront locations with the traffic and power grids, schools, and hospitals - money that will be taken from your community.

Jerry Rotondi said...

Sorry for your troubles, but maybe your "pre war" homes were flooded because all of those "yuppie castles" that have been built took away water absorbing land.

Wall to wall concrete can't do the job that soil does.

Sandy's flood waters sought the level of least resistance--your basements.

Overdevelopment and yuppie demand was the problem after all.

At the time of the great 1938 hurricane, the area wasn't as overbuilt as it is today..

Anonymous said...

Jerry hit the nail on the head.