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City Council speeds up Sandy recovery process

By Sadef Ali Kully

The City Council approved a text amendment on special zoning rules to accelerate rebuilding of Sandy-damaged residences in areas within flood zones in the Rockaways, south Queens, south Brooklyn and Staten Island.

The text amendment, which passed Monday, will expedite the process of elevating and/or reconstructing one-family and two-family homes. It will also establish new zoning for narrow and shallow lots to allow new construction in waterfront neighborhoods.

The Mayor’s Office of Housing Recovery said the amendment will help elevate and rebuild 2,000 homes, while lowering the cost of flood insurance for residences within the flood zone. The amendment was introduced by that office, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the Department of City Planning.

“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,” said Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton), chairman of the Council Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises. “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.”

The Mayor’s Office of Housing Recovery said that over 4,000 homeowners have received reimbursement and over 1,400 have started construction—both compared to zero when the de Blasio administration took over.

“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,” Amy Peterson, director of the Mayor’s Office of Housing Recovery said.

Congress allocated an estimated $50 billion to fund recovery efforts for Hurricane Sandy and more than $13 billion of this funding is geared toward recovery in New York City.

“We owe it to those still trying to build back from the storm to pull out all of the stops,” Councilman Steven Matteo (R-Staten Island) said.

As of March, the city had administered an estimated $12.7 billion of federal funds for Sandy recovery and $2.4 billion were administered by federal agencies for Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts. Sandy was the second costliest storm in U.S. history after Hurricane Katrina, which struck New Orleans in 2005.

Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skully@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4546.

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