Suffolk leaders are promising to speed up permit reviews for property owners seeking to rebuild after superstorm Sandy, and will waive some application fees that can amount to as much as $5,000.
County Executive Steve Bellone and Health Commissioner James Tomarken made the announcement Monday at the Lighthouse on the Bay restaurant in Lindenhurst, one of many South Shore businesses closed due to storm damage.
Owner Tom Morse said he may have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to rebuild his flood-damaged property, which needs new flooring, walls and electrical wiring. He welcomed a break on county fees as he awaits insurance money.
"For the health department to be waiving all these fees for businesses like me, it's a lot," Morse said. "To save some money right up front, and to get the paperwork going, there's no words for that."
County officials said Monday they will process storm-related applications, submitted with a letter specifying a link to Sandy, in three to five days.
Fees for sewage disposal system inspections will be waived; they typically cost $115 to $650 for homeowners and $1,250 to $5,000 for businesses. Fees for reviewing properties' hazardous materials storage plans also will be waived; they can range from $210 to $770 per storage tank.
"This is an attempt to get people back up and functioning, and not let any cost get in the way," said Tomarken, noting that health department staff, cut by recent layoffs, will be reorganized to guarantee expedited attention to requests.
Bellone said the county is working with towns and villages, many of which waived building inspection fees after the storm. He said health officials will rely on municipalities' referrals to identify applicants with urgent needs.
"This process is designed to expedite things even more," Bellone said Monday.
Legis. Tom Cilmi (R-Bay Shore), who previously called for health officials to waive fees, called the waivers "the right thing to do. Victims of Sandy who have lost their homes or who have catastrophic damage as a result have suffered enough."
Applicants may call the county's wastewater management division at 631-852-5700 or pollution control at 631-854-2501.