Islip homeowners living in certain flood zones and looking to raise their homes to avoid flood damage from future severe storms may soon have less red tape to cut through.
The Town will hold a public hearing in the coming weeks to discuss altering the height of homes located in certain flood zones on the Flood Insurance Rate Map. A date for the public hearing has not been set.
At issue is the “tension” that exists between Federal Emergency Management Agency standards for how high homes along the coast must sit above land and Town limits on how high dwellings can be constructed.
“In flood zones, FEMA requires us to elevate houses, and if the Town’s height limits are not changed, variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals would be needed to pierce these limits,” said David Genaway, commissioner of Islip’s Planning Department. “This could create delays for homeowners looking to reconstruct.”
With residents in flood zones now repairing their flood damaged homes, Town officials are concerned that perhaps thousands of requests seeking a variance for the height of dwellings could bog down Town Hall. This could also delay the repair process for homeowners as well.
“The world is changing and we have to change with it,” said Trish Bergin Weichbrodt, Islip Town Councilwoman. “The Zoning Board of Appeals would have been inundated and we need to lift an additional burden off of people that have already been troubled by the storm.”
While specifics on the legislation are not yet available, Genaway said Islip officials are looking at raising the legal height of dwellings in flood zones that include V, VE, A and AE as noted on Flood Insurance Rate Maps. Those zones are located in areas closest to the Great South Bay and small inlet waterways such as rivers and canals.
Currently, the maximum height for a residential dwelling classified AAA, AA, A is 35 feet and those classified residential B and BAA is 28 feet. Properties within a flood zone are allowed an additional 2 feet in height depending on the zone in which they are located.