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City Deems 100 Buildings Unsafe After Sandy

Council expected to waive zoning processes for residents looking to rebuild.

A view of Long Beach City Hall from storm-damaged National Boulevard on Nov. 11.
A view of Long Beach City Hall from storm-damaged National Boulevard on Nov. 11.
This story was updated on 11.26.12.

As thousands of Long Beach residents plan to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy walloped the city last month, several buildings will likely have to see the wrecking ball first, according to Scott Kemins, the city’s building commissioner.

About 100 buildings are deemed unsafe and may need to be knocked down based on the city’s first assessment of damaged homes following the storm, Kemins told Patch at Tuesday’s special City Council meeting. “Most of them in the West End and Canals,” he added about the flood-damaged buildings.  

Kemins added later that homeowners and their insurance companies will decide whether or not their homes will be knocked down. "The city will not be knocking any houses down," he said. 

The council voted to approve a public hearing to amend the code of ordinances so that homeowners can bypass the Zoning Board of Appeals to apply for a height variance of 23 feet to rebuild their homes, based on regulations set by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. However, the building department must still approve their rebuilding plans.

“Part of that publication for public hearing for the zoning code will allow somebody to build a reasonable FEMA-compliant house without having to waste three or four months going to the zoning board,” Kemins said the resolution.  

Long Beach is in a flood zone and FEMA regulations require that all new homes built in such areas must be raised at least eight feet above street level, and any homeowner with a mortgage is required to have flood insurance.

Kemins noted that new FEMA-compliant houses built in the West End suffered less damages than neighboring homes set at ground level, in part because they don’t allow for parking, utilities, storage or entrance to the house. “There’s nothing down in that lower level,” he said.

The apartments and condominiums that line the beach sustained varying degrees of damage, since they are all designed differently, but none were condemned, Kemins said. While some residents have been back living in some of those buildings for a week or more, others buildings remain vacant.    

“Avalon Towers at 10 West Broadway, they sustained a lot of damage,” he said. “They lost their boilers but they actually have a temporary boiler that was delivered on the side of the building and we’re hoping that by next week that we’ll get their residents back in.”

Among the hardest hit buildings in the city are those run by the Housing Authority. “Some of the residents are living in them and they all have power, but only one of them has an elevator and none of them had head because all the boilers got destroyed," he said. 
Gary November 23, 2012 at 01:18 PM
Wait... what? So if I rebuild a new FEMA compliant house.... I'm not allowed to have a street level garage on ground level? I hope that's not the case.
Eddie November 23, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Nice to see more of Joe Kellard's writing. Where have you been Joe? We've missed your well written stories like this one!
onofrio albergo November 23, 2012 at 07:32 PM
if anyone has to rebuild there house in l b just look at house construction down in the outer banks of s. carolina all of them are built up on piers at least 8 to 10 feet seems like a no brainer unfortunately our zoning board will not let you put a 2nd floor on because of a out dated height restriction so we r forced to live in to small of a house with our big family if they relaxed the height restriction by just a few ft that would greatly help
Jaime Sumersille November 23, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Eddie - Joe has been in Long Beach all day every day reporting back to us. We write up his notes, post his photos, etc. as to get information to readers in the most timely matter. Jaime Sumersille, Regional Editor, Nassau County
John November 24, 2012 at 11:26 AM
@onofrio - article states that city council approved measure to bypass zoning board for height limits.
james enwright November 24, 2012 at 12:03 PM
my name is james enwright and i am general contractor if anyone is i need of my services please contact me @ jenwrightconst@gmail .com i would love to be of any assistance as far as dealing with insurance adjusters and local officials to help you get back into your homes as soon as possible
Wanttoknow November 26, 2012 at 11:20 AM
Seriously can you find out what will happen if we rebuild according to FEMA regulations? Will our taxes go up? I understand The Patch is simple but some real information would be helpful.
mildred petrassi November 26, 2012 at 06:53 PM
is the long beach post office open? would someone be kind enough to report. thank you
Gary November 26, 2012 at 09:33 PM
I found this FEMA floodzone home building guideline PDF. According to info on page 33, parking and some storage is allowed: http://www.fema.gov/pdf/floodplain/nfip_sg_unit_5.pdf
goatcheesepleez November 27, 2012 at 09:54 AM
@ Mildred: the Long Beach post office is slated to re-open on Mon., Dec. 3rd or Tues., Dec. 4th. I hope that helps.

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