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Hempstead Town officials plan easing rules for raising homes

Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Sandino, center, is joined

Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Sandino, center, is joined by homeowner Tom Schreiber, left, and Councilman Anthony D'Esposito to announce the proposal of a new law that will make it easier for homeowners to elevate their homes, Monday Aug. 1, 2016 in Island Park. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino and Councilman Anthony D’Esposito are proposing a new law to streamline the process and reduce the cost of elevating houses in the FEMA Flood Plain within Hempstead Town.

The two officials announced the plan at a Monday news conference with resident Tom Schreiber in front of his Island Park home. He is raising the house which was damaged in superstorm Sandy in October 2012.

“We are eager to make it easier for more homeowners to rebuild, repair and elevate their houses,” Santino said. “Cutting through red tape in the building permit process will save time and money for property owners.”

The existing waiver of some town requirements applied only to homeowners who held title to the property in the flood plain at the time of the storm and whose property was flooded and damaged by Sandy.

Under the proposed law, the home need only be in the flood plain designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, regardless of ownership at the time of the storm.

Town spokesman Mike Deery said 500 houses in the town have been elevated since Sandy, another 500 are in the process of elevation, and about 20,000 are eligible for the benefit.

“Many neighbors have sold their properties after the storm,” D’Esposito said, “and new homeowners should not be required to get a building variance to elevate their homes.”

Fees, legal costs and other expenses associated with obtaining a variance could easily exceed $1,000, according to Santino and D’Esposito, and the time required to secure a variance could add as much as two months to the rebuilding process.

“The variance would add cost and time to your process, and not having to go through that would save people the money and the time, and cause less headaches,” said Schreiber.

The Hempstead Town Board must approve the plan for it to become law. It is scheduled to consider the proposal on Sept. 6.

The town has continued to waive all building department permit fees for “in-kind” reconstruction and repair of homes damaged or destroyed by Sandy. Those fee waivers were extended through the end of the year at a July 5 town board meeting.

“By waiving building variance requirements for those people who own flood-prone properties, we are making the process of rebuilding homes and lives quicker and less costly,” Santino said.

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