CHPC has been committed to collaboratively working with the city in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and the CHPC Board has provided advice and recommendations concerning the regulatory changes needed to facilitate flood-resilient post-disaster reconstruction and planning. One important part of this work has been assisting the Department of City Plannings efforts to revise the zoning provisions applicable within flood zones so as to both streamline repair and rebuild efforts and improve the flood resilience of new and existing buildings.
The Department of City Planning recently proposed a Flood Resilience Zoning Text Amendment. This Text Amendment the provisions of which are also available for review as a presentation is an effort to encourage flood-resilient construction, enable compliance with updated FEMA guidance, accommodate flood zone restrictions on ground floor use, and improve the visual character of the flood zones streetscape.
The Zoning Committee of CHPC reviewed the proposed text submitted by the Department of City Planning and offered several suggestions in response to an early draft that were subsequently adopted or addressed. In particular, we are pleased that owners and developers are now encouraged to move electrical rooms above the Flood-Resistant Construction Elevation by deducting such space from floor area and that the DCP has addressed the accessibility challenges presented by buildings which are raised significantly above freeboard.
We fully support the proposed text amendment and are grateful for the Department of City Plannings diligent work revising the Citys zoning to address affected residents most urgent concerns. Moving forward, we recommend that a study should be conducted with regard to the legalization of affected buildings illegal basement or cellar apartments to minimize the loss of this housing stock, and that the Department of City Planning explore building envelope relief for owners and developers choosing to include features that promote flood resilience.