The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation this week announced a new permitting process that allows the state to more easily demolish certain superstorm Sandy-damaged homes.
The streamlined permit applies to areas within 100 feet of freshwater wetlands, which are regulated by the DEC.
The state plans to purchase contiguous properties, demolish homes and return the lots to a natural state to serve as storm buffers.
"This permitting will allow the NY Rising buyout program to proceed as quickly as possible so the land can be returned to nature," said Barbara Brancaccio, a spokeswoman for the state Office of Storm Recovery.
Brancaccio would not say where the homes the state is eyeing are located, but documents show they are chiefly on Suffolk County's South Shore.
To date, the state has received 144 applications from homeowners wanting to participate in the enhanced buyout plan, under which the NY Rising Housing Recovery Program would purchase the properties at their pre-superstorm Sandy value, in addition to other incentives.
The state has so far made offers to purchase 109 of those homes, Brancaccio said.
None of the transactions have closed yet.
Homeowners in the designated areas have until April 11 to apply for the buyout program, she said.
The state plans to turn over the properties to municipalities or nonprofits to be used as parkland or natural space once they're free of structures.
The open space would reduce the effects of future flooding by weakening flood flows, thereby protecting nearby structures during severe storms, according to the DEC.
The new process eliminates any publication requirements, according to the DEC. The agency said it will be able to issue decisions on permits in days rather than weeks.
Only New York State Housing and Community Renewal can apply for the expedited permit, officials said.
The DEC said in a statement that the new permit relies on "predefined construction standards" and "best management practices," and requires that materials from the demolition be removed from the site and that the property be graded and seeded.