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Staten Island neighborhoods damaged by Hurricane Sandy may be rezoned

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The Department of City Planning has approved a proposal to create a "Special Coastal Risk District"

Hurricane Sandy Oakwood Beach Staten Island Nathan Kensinger

This week, the city filed plans to rezone several Staten Island neighborhoods badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy, according to DNAinfo. Known as the "Special Coastal Risk District," the zoning will apply to areas of the borough that participated in the state buyout program, like Ocean Breeze, Graham Beach and Oakwood Beach. It will restrict new construction to only single-family, detached homes.

Through state buyouts, Governor Cuomo offered homeowners the pre-storm value of their home, then the government took ownership of the land. The state’s plan was to demolish the homes and preserve the land for wetlands restoration, to create coastal buffer zones. For homeowners who didn't opt for the buyout, the new zoning code places restrictions on how they can rebuild their home.

These neighborhoods are far from recovered, with some repaired homes mixed with abandoned properties and empty lots. As Joe Marvilli, spokesman for City Planning, said in a statement, the “conditions are not appropriate for significant new development." Due to the high risk of future flooding, he stated, “DCP is moving forward with a proposal that will limit future residential density, while maintaining the ability of existing homeowners to invest in making their homes safe and resilient and aligning commercial zoning with existing uses and character."

If the rezoning is ultimately approved, City Planning expects it could reduce the number of new residential units built by 57 to 115. The zoning will also reduce parking requirements, with the goal to make it easier to build resilient commercial buildings that could stand up against future floods.

The city already has a similar proposal for the neighborhoods of Howard Beach, Hamilton Beach and Broad Channel in Queens now in public review.