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City Plans Post-Sandy Rezoning to Limit Residential Density in Risky Areas

By Nicholas Rizzi | May 2, 2017 3:09pm | Updated on May 5, 2017 11:30am
 The city released a proposal to change the zoning to neighborhoods part of the buyout program — Ocean Breeze, Oakwood Beach and Graham Beach — to reduce future density.
The city released a proposal to change the zoning to neighborhoods part of the buyout program — Ocean Breeze, Oakwood Beach and Graham Beach — to reduce future density.
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DNAinfo/Jude Domski

STATEN ISLAND — The city published plans Monday to rezone several Hurricane Sandy-damaged neighborhoods in the state buyout program to limit the number of homes that can be built in the future.

The Department of City Planning approved a proposal last month to create a "Special Coastal Risk District" in the buyout neighborhoods of Ocean Breeze, Graham Beach and Oakwood Beach that will restrict new construction to only single-family, detached homes.

More than four years after Sandy hit, those neighborhoods remain a mix of repaired homes, abandoned properties and empty lots. Most of the neighborhoods are currently zoned for residential use, with some small commercial sections. The new proposal will limit new constructions in residential and ease parking restrictions in commercial, according to City Planning.

"While in many areas of the East Shore, resiliency can be achieved by creating zoning rules that better accommodate retrofitting of existing buildings or by encouraging new resilient construction, in some limited locations, such as the New State Buyout Areas in Oakwood Beach, Graham Beach, and Ocean Breeze, conditions are not appropriate for significant new development," Joe Marvilli, spokesman for City Planning, said in a statement.

"Given the high risk of flooding in these areas and their proximity to ecologically sensitive wetlands, 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."

The city already has another similar proposal for Howard Beach, Hamilton Beach and Broad Channel in Queens currently in public review.

With the Staten Island zoning, City Planning expects it could reduce the number of new residential units built by 57 to 115 if it passes.

The new zoning will reduce parking requirements — which officials hope will make it easier to build and rebuild commercial buildings — and make resilient construction easier in case of future floods.

It could add about 15,215 square feet of commercial space if approved and would place restrictions on some uses, including places with sleeping accommodations, according to the proposal.

The neighborhoods considered for the rezoning were part of the voluntary buyout program offered by the state after Sandy destroyed them. It gave homeowners the pre-storm value of their homes, with the government taking ownership of the land.

After a buyout, a home gets demolished and the land will be preserved for wetlands restoration and to create coastal buffer zones.

Last year, Borough President James Oddo released a plan to transform some of the land in Oakwood Beach taken over by the state into a new sports field.

For residents who didn't take part in the program, the new zoning code would place restrictions on how they can rebuild their homes.

The proposal was released for public review April 24 and published in the City Record on Monday. It will be presented to Community Boards 2 and 3 later this month, according to City Planning.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of the article stated that the entire neighborhoods would be zoned for a commercial district; however, the proposal will only modify the already existing zoning districts.