A revision to an ordinance waiving height restriction for Superstorm Sandy-damaged homes was amended to apply the new rules to both new and existing structures.
In flood zones, property owners raising their homes now can be built up to 35 feet tall when measured from FEMA Base Flood Elevation, whether it is a new or existing structure. This will ensure that building heights among neighboring homes remain consistent, Township Engineer Robert Chankalian said after the Township Council approved the ordinance amendment Tuesday.
"You could end up with up-and-down, so we said 'let's treat everyone the same,'" Chankalian said. "It makes it fair. Everyone gets the same sized house."
Councilman Jeffrey Carr, who is the chairman of the land use committee and worked on the ordinance, said that the ordinance and its amendment will help residents since they will not require a trip before Toms River's Zoning Board of Adjustment for a variance to exceed 35 feet.
"This will help rebuild houses and meet the new flood regulations without getting variances," he said.
The initial ordinance, which was adopted in March allowed, only applied to existing homes that needed to be raised past 35 feet to satisfy the base flood elevation, Chankalian said.
Planner Board members gave their approval to the amendment earlier in May.
"We recognize that when people are rebuilding they want to avoid going through a variance process that are based on site conditions that are quite predictable," said township planner Jay Lynch when Planning Board members give their approval to the ordinance amendment.
If the flood maps are revised when the final versions are issued, property owners then would be restricted to the new Base Flood Elevation at that time, said Council President George Wittmann. Those who build now, according to the current ordinance, would not be required again to change the height of their home.
"There's no adverse affect to anyone. We try to accommodate the maps as they are now, not what they could be," Wittmann said.
It remains unclear how final flood maps may change, but Wittmaan said it may be "a foot one way or the other."
The township is working on easing other building restrictions for Sandy-damage properties, including changes to setback regulations and deck construction.