Planners Favor Waiver of Height Restriction for Storm-Damaged Homes
The Township Council is set to vote on the ordinance March 12.
Planning Board members have given their approval to an ordinance amendment that will waive the maximum height restriction for homes impacted by Superstorm Sandy.
Relaxing that rule for those affected will allow them to raise their homes above 35 feet to satisfy FEMA flood guidelines while bypassing a trip before Toms River's Zoning Board, so long as no other alterations are proposed.
They can't do something else to the property," township planner Jay Lynch told board members Wednesday during a regular meeting.
The ordinance change was introduced by the Township Council last week and will be voted on for adoption during the governing body's March 12 meeting after a public hearing.
"If you're doing no modifications to your existing house except raising it, it does not cause a variance situation," said Councilman Jeffrey Carr upon the ordinance introduction.
With all of the troubles many residents face as they try to rebuild after Sandy's devastation, the relaxing of the height requirement for them is meant to make the recovery process go more smoothly, since they won't have to appear in front of the Zoning Board for a variance.
"It would be brutally unfair to punish people who have already been punished," said board member Dennis Filippone.
Most of the affected homes likely will require an increase of 4 to 5 feet to meet FEMA guidelines, according to Lynch.
Board member Jack Reuther asked how the raising of homes might affected disabled residents who require a ramp to access their structure. Lynch said that access ramps will not be affected as they are exempt from setback requirements.
"They biggest challenge they'll meet is they will need landings" to make longer ramps fit, Lynch said.