Friday, November 16, 2012
After Sandy, P&Z Hopes to Give Homeowners a Lift
In the aftermath of Storm Sandy, Westport’s Planning & Zoning Commission (P&Z) wants to give certain homeowners a lift, literally, by cutting back on red tape.
Catherine Walsh, P&Z chairwoman, announced today the formation of a new subcommittee to explore changing the zoning regulations to let homeowners in flood zones elevate their houses without a Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) variances.
The subcommittee is scheduled to meet Tuesday at 8 a.m. in Town Hall.
“This past Thursday we opened our work session to the public, and based upon the feedback, we received decided that we need to move quickly to address this issue of people who want to raise their houses to get above the 100-year flood, but they often need variances,” Walsh said.
She added that the P&Z hopes to have a draft regulation “as soon as possible so that we can get it through the public hearing process.”
“We plan to have it in place before the rebuilding process begins, so that property owners will have the shortest path possible when they want to repair and elevate their buildings,” said Walsh
She said the P&Z is prepared to schedule extra meetings if needed to review flood regulations or coastal site plan applications. Scheduling of such meetings is subject to statutory legal notice requirements which require two weeks’ public notice.
According to Walsh, the process will involve looking at building coverage and setback in flood prone areas, allowing property owners enough flexibility to raise their houses above the flood level and out of harms way, even if they are non-conforming.
She added that the more properties being elevated will reduce future damage.
Walsh said the P&Z welcomes any ideas “that will help streamline and simplify the rebuilding process.”
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Note: WestportNow Publisher Gordon F. Joseloff is also First Selectman of Westport