Author Archives: Daniel Fortier

A Zoning Thought Regarding Lifting Homes In The Flood Zone

Our neighbors to the far south (New Jersey) are providing me with many lessons regarding things we can do to better prepare for potential storm related flooding. The nightmares associated with rebuilding are hindering recovery. One issue that delays recovery is having to submit plans to various boards for approval before they can start work, work to simply elevate existing structures.

As I have watched these discussions,  I have give our process considerable thought. We too may have too much red tape. A house in West Dennis or Dennis Port could be forced to undergo Board of Appeals, Conservation Commission and possibly Board of Health Review before they can lift an existing structure.  In South Dennis and on the North side, you might add historic district review into the mix.

We need to cut the red tape, and take preemptive action, before a disaster strikes. Looking at a New Jersey law we might be able to craft a Zoning provision to at least remove one delay.

A first draft of such a provision might look like the following:

Amend Section 6 Flood Zone

Amend Section 6.6 Definitions by adding the following:

“Existing structure” means any structure that presently exists at the time a request is made to elevate.

“Highest applicable flood elevation standard” means the FEMA base flood elevation plus an additional three feet.

“New and appropriate elevation” means any elevation to which a structure is raised, or is to be raised, that is equal to or higher than the applicable FEMA base flood elevation, provided, however, in no case shall the new and appropriate elevation exceed the highest applicable flood elevation standard.

“Original dimensions” means the exact vertical and horizontal dimensions of a structure as it presently exists.

Add new Section 6.7 Special Provisions for Lifting Existing Structures to New And Appropriate Elevations

(1) Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law to the contrary, except as otherwise provided pursuant to paragraph (3) of this subsection, a person shall be allowed to lift an existing structure located in an Area of Special Flood Hazard to a new and appropriate elevation, or constructing a staircase or other attendant structure necessitated by such raising without the need for Board of Appeals relief, provided, however, this exemption shall apply only to the minimum extent or degree necessary to allow the structure to meet the new and appropriate elevation with adequate means of ingress and egress.

(2) Appurtenant to lifting an existing structure, the existing structure may be relocated elsewhere on the lot as long as said relocation does not create a new, or increase the intensity of a setback nonconformity.  For the purposes of accomplishing meeting the new and appropriate elevation, the restrictions found in Section 2.4.1.2 D 2 (the so-called 40% rule) shall not apply.

(3) The exemption established pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection shall not be available to a person who has altered or is seeking to alter the original dimensions of a structure if, had the alteration not been made, the structure could have been raised to meet the new and appropriate elevation either without the exemption or with an  exemption of lesser degree than is needed with the alteration.

What if there were a step between renting and owning? | Urban Institute

Shared equity as a means of helping first time homebuyers. From the discussion, it appears to target the income group that is overlooked, those earning over the normal 80% of median income that is the upper limit of most affordable housing programs.  Recently I raised the question “should we be targeting a portion of our restricted housing?” This continues that discussion.

http://www.urban.org/urban-wire/what-if-there-were-step-between-renting-and-owning

Flood Insurance Advocate

I am going to plant a seed and see where it will go. Possibly nowhere,  as I feel very few towns are as deeply into assisting local property owners with flood insurance issues as we are in Dennis. But, we need a flood insurance advocate on Cape Cod.

It is not a large enough issue that each community needs one, but, clearly it is needed.

Over the last month I have assisted one resident deal with an old Letter Of Map Amendment that was superceded by the new maps and another who was directed that they needed a LOMA. In both cases the July 2014 map changes reflected that the properties were no longer in a flood zone. In both cases the off-Cape insurance company assessed the property owner with flood zone insurance rates.

Neither property had a mortgage.  The property owners could have walked away and dropped their insurance. Luckily neither did as this would just have kicked the can down the road a bit farther. The problem would have raised its ugly head again at a less opportune time, when a sale was pending.

I do not like doing it but, I had to call upon our State Representative,  Congressman and the regional National Flood Insurance representatives to help these property owners. I am sure there are many more in need of help,  who have not stepped forward.

Everyone getting their flood insurance renewals need to double check the determination that has been made. To whit:

• Is the flood zone determination correct? And
• Have they correctly determined whether you qualify for primary residence status?

We clearly need someone in the county to hold people’s hands through this process.

What the Single Ladies Have Wanted for More Than a Century – NYTimes.com

Okay, not just single ladies. The article describes the type of housing comunity envisioned on Hokum Rock Road for adults on the autism spectrum. Larger individual rooms that are more like master suites, common areas within each residence, and the possibility of a shared community building. A neighbor helping neighbor living arrangement. Many fully independent, while some needing more hands on services. Perhaps the more we can mainstream these ideas, the easier it will be for state agencies to see it is not institutional housing.

What the Single Ladies Have Wanted for More Than a Century – NYTimes.com.

The Wind Eyes: Designing for Natural Ventilation in Multi-Family Buildings | Planetizen: The Urban Planning, Design, and Development Network

The Wind Eyes: Designing for Natural Ventilation in Multi-Family Buildings

New City Rule Could Make Somerville Housing More Affordable – Real estate news – Boston.com

New City Rule Could Make Somerville Housing More Affordable – Real estate news – Boston.com.

Definitely worth throwing on the table. We have programs that take care of those earning below 80% of median income, but very little for those earning just a hair above that 80% target. Somerville is taking a lead in promoting housing for that forgotten group of working class people who do not qualify for “affordable” housing.  We have it in the Municipally Sponsored Project part of our by-law, which has not been largely used. Perhaps we need to reconsider some aspects of our Affordable Housing By-law. Drop down to 20% for those under 80% of median and make a requirement of 5% to 10% for moderate income households. Perhaps 5% for those earning between 80% and 95% of median and 5% for those earning between 100% and 110% of median income.

 

Applications available for Melpet Farm units – News – capecodtimes.com – Hyannis, MA

Applications available for Melpet Farm units – News – capecodtimes.com – Hyannis, MA.