Live blogging the P&Z FEMA session

P&Z. Ogilvy on floor, Gideon refuses to give up his seat Mean.

P&Z. Ogilvy on floor, Gideon refuses to give up his seat Mean.

Bad start- microphones don’t work, commission members too deaf to (a) notice or (care). These are the people who brought us FAR, of course.
Coastal areas only are affected by new FEMA rules.
Base flood Elevation changes- old Greenwich, you’re f’d
Flood zone houses any part of town- “your insurance premiums will go up significantly”. You betcha.
The 50% rule (I’ll explain later) is going down to 30% in the future. Want a new bathroom? Plan on tearing down your house.
David Ogilvy is sitting on the floor(photo later) in direct violation of the FEMA minimum height level.
Question posed(sorry Walt, no answer to amount needed to bribe for a variance) – are these new maps “final”? Answer: it’s the federal government, nothing is final. Build now, regret later.
BTW- your furnace and generator will be joining the rest of your family on those stilts.
Katie Deluca – another politician’s child who’s found employment with the town* –  is not answering a question – incapable or duplicitous? Both?

Wrap up: 466 homes in Old Greenwich are being moved into flood zone with these new maps. Once there, they will all be by definition “non-conforming”, which means that anything done to the existing structure- new windows, new roof, interior walls moved, kitchen updated, etc. cannot exceed 50% of the market value of the house – not the land and house, just the house, less the cost of all improvements made since 1986. If your house is worth $350,000 and you  added a $50,000 addition in 1986, a new $75,000 kitchen in 1996 and $75,000 again in a redone master bedroom bath in 2010, you are already over your limit and should you want to install new storm windows, say, you’ll have to tear your house down and start anew. That ought to send the value of older homes soaring.

Why does our own P&Z go back to 1986 in calculating prior improvement costs instead of using FEMA’s much more lenient policy of a one-year look back? “Because we’ve always done it that way”, explains Ms. Deluca. Pressed for a reason beyond mere tradition, a P&Z member contributes a stirring story of a mother and her infant trapped on the second floor of their house in another town during Hurricane Sandy. That must not be allowed to happen here, she insists (apparently the mother and child were safely rescued, and no reason for their ignoring evacuation orders in the first place was supplied) so Greenwich P&Z intends to force property owners into compliance and damn the cost. Presumably the P&Z will be banning assault rifles on the same “if it saves the life of one child” theory of regulation, but they didn’t bring it up at tonight’s meeting.

So there you have it: if your home was built before July, 2013 and is now or will be reassigned to one of our two newly-redefined and expanded flood zones you are officially non-compliant and must meet the P&Z’s rules for future improvements. What that means is that older homes -I’d guess anything built before 1985-1990 cannot economically be expanded or improved and must remain as they are now, until replaced with the new FEMA House model, which is one built on stilts. Stay put, and you will soon be surrounded by giant homes looming over you and blocking your views and your sunlight. Move, and expect to get the land value of your property and not a penny more. Your house is now officially obsolete. Just like its FAR and lot coverage regulations, the P&Z has just confiscated your property and your wealth and isn’t planning to compensate you for your loss. You will be entitled, however, to use the town dump to dispose of your current residence.

Long range, the goal and the vision of our P&Z and the federal government is a waterfront of homes on sticks, like the quaint native fishing villages seen in old WWII movies. That will be different from what we see today.

*Katie Deluca, I am informed, is the daughter of John Blankley, former candidate for First Selectman, future member of the Board of Estimate and Taxation, raising the question, is there anybody working for town government who isn’t related by birth or marriage to a town politician?


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92 responses to “Live blogging the P&Z FEMA session

  1. Anonymous

    Nice! Love the live blogging.

  2. Anonymous

    ask if greenwich intends to create a pooled risk insurance fund like california’s earthquake authority, because no private insurer will be doing policies here soon.

    chubb’s among the last of the good companies left. gee do ya think their premiums will rise?

  3. Walt

    Dude –
    I wish you let me know earlier. Can you ask these questions for me?

    Can we please get a clothing optional beach in Old Greenwich?

    Instead of putting the houses on stilts, why not just spray them all with rubber latex? This would probably be cheaper. And a little kinky too!!

    What does P&Z stand for? Are they related to Jay Z? If so, can I get Beyoncé’s autograph? And maybe a date?

    Why aren’t there any hore de vir..whore dis…Why don’t they serve snacks at these meetings?

    What section of town is zoned for rub & tugs? Can we get a permit?

    Why can’t we find a good bagel in Greenwich?

    Why do they dislike Jews?

    Report back after they answer. I may have some follow ups.
    Your Pal,

  4. Walt

    Dude –
    A few more:

    How much is the bribe to get a variance?

    How do they enforce regulations that they wrote, which they themselves don’t understand?

    Do they support gay marriage?

    How many blacks own waterfront property in Greenwich? Is it none because they keep them out, or because they know they can’t swim?

    Yes or no question: What is the maximum sqf single family dwelling you can build on a one acre lot?

    I may have follow up.
    Your Pal,

  5. Anonymous

    walt’s comments: priceless.

    he says what we think after a few cocktails.

  6. Enterprise Fund can take charge.
    Many precedents.

  7. I was going to provide enlightened commentary on the tidal bore of bad information dispensed by the Town officials. But you and Walt beat me to it. And Brother Gideon launched forth a typhoon of dis-information, suggesting that we could self-insure and self-finance all private, commercial and public property from all hazards without the help of State and Federal resources. Greenwich as a community is the client of the Federal flood insurance program. We all swim or sink together.

  8. Mickster

    FYI – my experience with Katie, as a resource to my clients and I, has been exceptional. So back off.

    • Just asked the question. But next time she’s helping you so ably, do her a favor and suggest that the reply, “because we’ve always done it so” is not a satisfying answer to the question, “why do you do it way?”

      • Walt

        Dude –
        Back off? BACK OFF!!

        Step off, Dude. Don’t you be going there!! Watch yourself, homie.

        What are we, hairless tweens?

        So because the Mickster disagrees with you, you need to “back off”? On your own blog? How groady, Dude.

        Is that tough guy speak? A threat? Where the whole point of a blog is to express differing opinions. Is that point totally lost on this emerald green eunuch?

        How do you make an Irishman cry? Tell him there is no more beer.

        How do you get out of an argument with an Irishman? Cut out his tongue, or shoot him.

        Why are the Irish stubborn? They have nothing else going for them.

        What’s the difference between an Irishman and a Pollack? About 1,500 miles.

        Now chill peeps.
        Your Pal,

      • Mickster

        I totally agree with you – that answer is not what you should hear. I just didn’t want your readers to get the impression that she was anything less than very professional. I also feel a little different to you about calling ‘civil servants’ out. I have no problem ‘outing’ the political types who are elected or appointed to public office – that goes with the territory – employees are another story.

        Interesting how Walt is so sensitive to the expression ” back off”… What are the odds he’s heard that a lot in his

        • CatoRenasci

          I disagree – the public employees (union lefties in most cases) are a huge part of the problem and should not be allowed to hide in the shadows of claiming disinterested devotion to public service. Most of them are nice enough, but their devotion is to their rice bowls, the expansion of their authority, and their over-generous retirement plans. They are paid excessively for what they do in many (most?) cases and enjoy their ability to exercise power over the wealthier citizens who must come before them as supplicants in the face of increasingly bureaucratic and intrusive regulations.

        • AJ

          Why? M – I – C, K – E – Y, why because they like you. Because petty bureaucrats can tell you to go f… yourself with a smile (as the Mickster noticed — wonderful person), that’s why. Why go back to ’86 when they’re only required to go back a year? Because they have the power to, to ruin you, to make your life miserable — another feather in their cap. He, he, he. Ha, ha, ha. So you think I’m petty, do you? Let me show you the true meaning of the word, he he, he. When foul is fair and fair is foul.

        • Mickster

          AJ, the ’86 rule is BS – so you fight to change it. These people just follow the rules created by whatever Board or committee we elected, right? You’re blaming the wrong people (I think but what do I know)

  9. Cos Cobber

    Old Greenwich and the heart of the Cos Cob village are totally screwed. Fast forward twenty years and we’ll have strange houses on stilts paired with boarded up / run down structures unable to afford or unwilling to transform to the new higher BFE.

    I think this will be particularly problematic for the small commercial structures, many of which fail to generate enough rental income to warrant replacement.

    While I get it for the VE zone, the medicine seems a little tough to swallow for much of the AE zone.

    I am curious, what are the total FEMA claims in Gwich from Sandy?

  10. Anonymous

    Bottom line, if you live in the flood zone these are the rules, if you don’t like them then either change what the the federal goverment requires/regulates or move to higher ground. Pretty simple stuff.

    • Unless of course you sunk your savings into a legal residence and the government changes the rules on you, making what was once legal illegal, what was once valuable worthless. Then you might complain. Or like you, “get over it”.

      • cos cobber

        Anonymous, the new FEMA maps have elevated the definition of flood hazard by 1 to 4 ft for hundreds of properties. Many people bought homes in known flood zones and made them fully compliant under the old flood maps (ie elevated their sites to meet code at that time).

        As EarthImage points out, do the home improvement costs incurred after 1986 to make the home FEMA compliant under the old maps count toward the 50% rule? If so, its completely devastating financially. Basically the new maps nuke the remaining property values that the high waters of Sandy and Irene never reached.

        Basically, these maps are finishing the job Sandy and Irene didn’t complete.

    • Anonymous

      Change what the federal government requires? Good luck with that Bud.

      • hmmm

        we are supposed to be the govt no? we the people they work for us…unfortunately people are too fkg busy with their iphones and never show up to these things and the result is you get bent over…these folks have been bent over because they didn’t participate which is everyone’s repsonsibility.

  11. Anonymous

    No joke, in the next day or two we were seriously considering putting offers on one or two (if first offer rejected) nice homes in Old Greenwich, the house on HIllcrest and the other on Lincoln Ave.

    This issue just killed that idea. Thank you Mr. Fountain for bringing this up as you have. I just pointed out the blog to my wife and we both said, “pass.” Can’t afford the cost or headache associated with what this regulation could do to us in the future. We will now look elsewhere, and in all likelihood another town nearby.

    And thanks Greenwich P&Z, for destroying property values and liquidity for existing homeowners, which ultimately hurts this town. I hope you get sued professionally as well as personally to kingdom come by a class action brought on behalf of all OG homeowners. If I were an OG resident, I’d be furious.

    • Anonymous

      Lincoln Avenue did not look like it is in the flood zone from the map I saw.

    • Hillcrest is high and dry, and a reader points out that Lincoln didn’t appear to be in the two “velocity” zones which are affected by the new maps. I might check the latter personally, though.

      • hmmm

        lincoln is on the map yet….

      • Anonymous

        You’re right, Lincoln does seem to have been spared, but it’s way too close for our comfort. Another couple inch change on the map in the future (which would be about 1k feet) and presto–we’d be screwed. As for Hillcrest, we can only wonder if FEMA will start to creep past Valley & River Rd. for flood zones in the future.

        What a mess….

        • Anonymous

          If Hillcrest were ever considered a flood zone
          We’d all be dead long before the tide ever got there.
          It sounds like you are from out of down. I would do a few drive bys’ first, and when you see how high up the hill, HILL-CREST (eh-hem) park is, you may wish to rethink “your inks” or in this case thumb stokes on your iPhone.

    • Stanwich

      Let’s all pretend for a moment that Chris’ blog didn’t exist. Most realtors in Greenwich wouldn’t bother to mention the impending regulation changes either because they don’t understand them or just want the commission. You’d be screwed as a homeowner. Kudos to Chris for enduring shit for years on end from the realtor community yet still carrying the torch.

      • anony

        Indeed. Chris is a one in a million realtor . Unfortunately, I’ve never met a realtor with his knowledge and ethics in any of my home searches/purchases.

  12. Anonymous

    So all of Old Greenwich is the new Pemberwick/Hollow Wood Lane. Who knew?

    Stilts, baby!

  13. CC- You nailed it. What you get that P&Z is keeping under its hat is that FEMA is forcing a slow evacuation of low-lying areas, including the targeted Cos Cob and Old Greenwich south of the Village. Katie D. said it well. I’ll have to go to the video tape for an exact quote, but what brought on this crisis is (tacit admission with words not spoken: anthropocentric global warming with ice melt and sea level rise) subsidized flood insurance, variances, underwriter’s belief in the engineered efficacy of dikes and seawalls [New Orleans Super Dome had a pre-Katrina base flood elevation of 2.5 ft above sea level – duh!], and finally [wait for it] bad mapping. Well bad mapping we can fix. Call me!

    • Walt

      Dude –
      Why must mysognists like Earth Image always want to blame the Dykes? This is why I wanted you to ask the gay marriage question.
      Earth Image knows much more about flooding, dirt placement, aliens, and gravity than I ever will. So I respect his opinion. And He must be a blast at a party.
      But I have a really hard time buying into his premise this is caused by dykes.
      Your Pal,

    • AJ

      Agenda 21? You’re a dangerous man Earth Image: you’ve figured out what they’re up to — “What you get that P&Z is keeping under its hat is that FEMA is forcing a slow evacuation of low-lying areas”

      They’ll clear out everyone that they can by bankrupting them, and when there’s nothing left but the people who could afford to put their houses up on stilts, they’ll permanently cut off the utilities, like they did in certain parishes in New Orleans, then they’ll tell the self-sufficient ones (the guys with gusn and generators) that it’s not safe to live there without utilites. Then they’ll plant trees and make a killing on carbon credits.

  14. Anonymous

    As Beyonce once said, just put a finger in it.

  15. firsttimebuyer

    Are the new maps/zones available on line?

    • Yes, although I at least find them difficult to read on my screen. If you go to the town government link (which isn’t coming trippingly to mind at 5:00 am – I think I have a link on the right, or Google Greenwich CT) you can find them buried in the P&Z’s page. Or you can go to Town Hall.

  16. Anonymous

    So a non conforming 3m home in an OG flood plain will cost 60k per anum in premium?

  17. Anonymous

    Not really sure why we are subsidizing people to live in flood zones in the first place. The new regulations seem logical enough to me if it prevents folks who insist on living within 500 yards of the sound to ask the rest of us to pay to rebuild their flooded houses every other year. These areas of town used to trade at a discount, and for good reason.

    • Anon58

      Excellent point. It comes down to risk and reward. For decades, coastal insurance rates have been way below what they should have been, thus encouraging development in high-risk areas.

      • Here’s the problem with that, Anon – years ago, some Congressmen sought to protect their millionaire, waterfront-owning contributors by creating a federal flood insurance program with rates subsidized by middle class taxpayers. The federal premiums were so low that private insurers were forced from the market and the feds were freed to start controlling all waterfront buildings. It’s similar to government health care – once states began to pay for some people’s medical care they used that “obligation” to assert control over all citizens’ private behavior: smoking, motorcycle helmets, transfats, school lunches et. etc. etc. on the ground that the unwise behavior of poor folks imposed a burden on society and so the rest of us should be controlled (if you an’t follow that logic, don’t worry, it’s not supposed to be logical, it’s about control).
        If someone wants to engage in risky behavior, be it smoking or building a home in flood zone, it should be no one’s business but his own. Because individual freedom and responsibility are anathema to progressives, they start an entitlement program that will benefit some but allow the control of all. This is not by accident.

        • AJ

          One point you missed is the strange, almost evil dichotomy this created, where your insurer says, “Sorry, we can’t pay you anything: what you have is flood damage” and FEMA says, “sorry we can’t pay you: what you have is wind damage.” There was a lot of that going on in the aftermath of Katrina.

  18. CatoRenasci

    Not a word about this in today’s Greenwich Slime….

  19. What was the make-up of the audience? 50% realtors- 50% homeowners?

    • About right, Eos, maybe a higher count for realtors.

      • hmmm

        and the realtors were there to twist the realities to unsuspecting home buyers….

        just kidding…don’t get exciting!

      • And what are realtors expected to do with the information they took in last night? Will they be instructed by their bosses to make this part of the spiel when a buyer is looking for a home along this new floodplain? It’ll be interesting to see what agencies create a FEMA packet to hand to homeowners and what agencies leave it up to the caveat emptor rule of life.

        • They were there to educate themselves so they could better serve their clients, owners and buyers. I actually mean that- the professionals were there, not the bulk of our agents, who sell a house once a year to their fellow PTA mommies.

    • hmmm

      the makeup was awful way too much blush

  20. Anonymous

    Havemeyer Park will become the hottest neighborhood in Old Greenwich–it’s high and dry

    • Stranded On A Hill

      What value does it have if your gas station, supermarket, school, waste treatment, and country club are under water once you get off the hill?

  21. Anonymous

    Chris, what is the logic of the 50% improvement rule, is it to discourage having homes in the flood zone at all, assuming you can not do any further improvements?

    • Yes.And admitted, albeit obliquely, by the P&Z last night. Long term, they want every house near the water on stilts and will force that to happen by preventing the existing housing stock from being renovated, improved or expanded. To further that goal, the P&Z has adopted 1986 as a baseline rather than the more lenient FEMA standard of one year. This is so, the P&Z member concerned about babies on second floors explained, because otherwise people will improve their houses in stages and remain where they are. The 1986 rule prevents that because sooner, not later, homeowners will hit the 50% threshold and be forced to tear down and start anew.

  22. GreenITCH

    Well in some ways the glass is half full …. builders will have a field day picking up cheap property ( this is likely 1- 3 years ) and building FEMA compliant homes … meanwhile as the Anonymous first time buyer noted … you just took the housing stock for the most desirable area of town ( OG and Riverside ) and reduced it by 30-40-50 % ? Granny pack your bags someone’s gonna’ coming knocking for that pre 1960’s home !

  23. jb

    Any thoughts when the next revised maps are coming out? And what’s the risk of these flood zones getting further expanded?

    • The next flood maps are probably 5-10 years away. As for the danger of them being expanded, have you ever seen a government program that doesn’t expand its power and reach? Checked what our P&Z has been doing the past twenty years? Combine their drive for power with the feds and you know what to expect.

      • Anonymous

        Exactly. 1 inch on the map equals 500 feet. Plan accordingly.

        My bigger fear is lack of insurance carriers in the market, or riders so imposing that they could be in direct conflict with P&Z regs–particularly the renovation thresholds. If you’re borrowing to purchase or refi, the lender will require hazard/flood, and if that’s not available, then you’re royally screwed.

        Who’s the insurance last game in town of any quality–Hartford and Chubb?

  24. jack cooper

    It occurs to me that Federal Flood Insurance could price itself out of the market. If you have an annual premium of $15,000 and the maximum payout you can receive from Flood Insurance is $250,000 it doesn’t make much economic sense to carry it. How about posting $250,000 in escrow in favor of the mortgage provider. Doesn’t that give the mortgage provider the same economics as the Flood Insurance. Since most of the mortgages in Old Greenwich, Cob Cob and Riverside are jumbos and not sold in the secondary market the lender shouldn’t care.

    • Anonymous

      that’s ridiculous for almost anyone other than very wealthy. just give up $250k for life of loan to be held in escrow? banks would be outta the home loan biz tomorrow if they required that as part of underwriting guideline change, balance sheet or otherwise.

      • jack cooper

        A homeowner would pledge the $250,000 but would still be entitled to the income from the principal. Around this area, mortgages probably have an average life of approximately 7 years. In the example given, a homeowner would have paid $105,000 in Flood insurance premiums during that time — very expensive insurance.

  25. Jack- Let’s take Gideon Fountain’s idea a bit further…that Greenwich can afford to go it alone, since we have already priced ourselves outside of FEMA’s valuation parameters. (Any one see a parallel here to health insurance?)

    The magic words used by Gideon were “snack bar,” in reference to the north concession area at Greenwich Point.

    At the 2010 hearing on June 1 about the June 18,2010 implementation of new FEMA “Improved Maps,” I was the only speaker or attendee. I maintained then that the Town was failure to use the hazard mapping as an emergency management tool, and that Town was writing itself variances for non-compliant construction. As explained last night, these variance accumulate as demerits against the community rating system for the Town.

    At the time, Katie Blankley defended this practice, stating that people at the beaches don’t want to walk up two staircases to get to the bathroom or the concession stand. So you saw last night that the Conservation Director was quite silent on all the damage Town Hall has done to our FEMA community rating.

    And as for the Town Planner’s eruption over the snack bar, RTM/BET just checked off $3.1 Million in repairs for Sandy, with the idea that FEMA was going to pick up the tab. Why did the DPW chief need a generator for the dump? So the Town could charge FEMA for every truckload after Sandy. Remember the Park and Rec Director saying the Town needed to count every broken branch? Why. To Charge FEMA.

    So given that the Town as a whole is a single client in the national flood insurance program, and the FEMA covers not only homes, but businesses and the Town’s assets, from Island Beach to the Bruce golf course, it shouldn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out what’s going on here. The strategy, which applies broadly to land use issues, is to make the homeowners pay the freight. Wait until we get to the stormwater discussion, which has a deadline of April 4 for public comment for review of 2012.

  26. Confused in OG

    wondering if someone here could explain or offer their thoughts on a couple of items:
    1) if my house is in OG, but not within the AE or VE zones, yet within 1,000 feet of the coast, do these changes have any impact?
    2) if I were the owner of one of the new homes currently being built in OG in an AE or VE zone (likely approved in 2012 by the town agencies) is my house not compliant with theses regs as of 7/1/13? Same applies to a house completed in 2011 or 2012 – these would not have been built as “stilt houses”. And what are the realtors on the site thoughts as to the value impact?
    3) I see that P & Z has before it a house on Ford Lane (tear down and new construction), land is in the AE zone, does this mean they can’t approve the current application because it is not designed as a house “on stilts” – has the owner of this land who bought in 2012 just had a bad outcome?

    • Answers (subject to correction by Mike Finkbeiner, who understands this whole thing) (1) I do not believe the changes affect properties not in the AE or VE zones provided they remain outside their zones under the new map. Many houses nor presently in the zones will be shifted over, come July; lucky them. (2) “If it’s not on stilts it must be kilt” – that said, if you built in 2012, you have a lot of built-in value in that house that you can use before the 50% rule kicks in (once you exceed 50% of the house’s value – not the land, you can only consider the cost/value of the house itself – you must bring the structure into compliance which, for all practical purposes, means tear it down). For now, you can build, add, remodel to your heart’s and your wallet’s content. Over time, as the value of the house depreciates, costs increase, and total spent on improvements add up, you’ll have to start looking for a step ladder to gain entrance to your new home. (3) I know nothing specific about the Ford Lane application but the lawyer in me suggests that the P&Z can’t deny a permit now based on new rules that will take effect 4 months from now. Whether it might make sense for the unhappy owner to go back to the drawing board and redesign a new home that will be in compliance when completed is another matter.

      • AJ

        A house can always be jacked up. Two people in my neighborhood have done it in the last several years because of rotting foundations — nothing to do with flooding, and I don’t live in an expensive neighborhood, so I assume that it may not be as expensive as you think. Wow, soon all of OG will look like the south shore of Long Island with all those houses up on stilts on the dunes at the beach, waiting for the big one to come in and wash them away.

        Remember when they put that huge pipe thing in at Tods to dredge up all the sand that had washed away? Hey, it’s all mud out there, and the beach looks the same as it did in 1950. What sand that washed away? Then they had to build the wall around the point to stop the erosion. What erosion? I don’t think things have changed there much, with the exception of Mr. Tod’s stone walls, for the last several thousand years, oh, and the rocks that Mr. Binney “stole”, borrowed, to line the pond at his park. Remember that crazy bench that was always sticking out of the water, and there used to be painted turtles in that pond to — think there’s still gold fish though, and huge ones in the swamp at the Eckman Center: you can see them under the ice if you go skating there.

        • The new “jack’em up” regulations require that nothing impede the flow of flood waters, so the pilings must be exposed (I’ve seen lattice work on houses in Fairfield, so I guess there can be some cosmetic screening) and all the mechanicals serving the house: furnace, generator, etc. must be raised as well. That all adds up, I would think, to a huge expense – it’s no longer the relatively simple matter of jacking up the structure, building the foundation up a couple of feet and lowering the house back down. Whether that expense will force a house to be torn down I can’t say, yet, but it will certainly give a potential buyer pause when, in evaluating a particular home, he has to add a hundred thousand dollars (or more) to the cost of adding a bathroom or redoing the kitchen.

  27. Libertarian Advocate

    Back Country price resurgence in the cards?

  28. Anonymous

    Cos Cobber,

    I think you’re wrong about central cos cob changing. From the maps I see that it hasn’t expanded and the elevation remains the same at 11ft, whereas in OG in certain places it has gone from 11ft to 15ft an the number of homes in a flood zone has expanded.

    If you’re currently conforming you’ll be in conformance with the new regs.

    • Cos Cobber

      I agree about what the new maps show. I need to find the link to all the FEMA flood zone change in BFE notices by address. Someone posted a link listing all the addresses affected by the change with their old and new BFE. I could be wrong, – actually happy to be wrong, that many addresses in Cos Cob were notified of an increase in the BFE.

      Regardless, even if the BFE hasnt changed, isnt the 50% rule new?

      • The 50% rule is not new, but it will be applicable to many more houses under the change in zone coverage. What gets complicated, for me, is when the cash register starts tallying – if I have it right, and I very well may not, if your house is, today, compliant with existing rules and becomes non-compliant on July 1 when the new rules kick in, you’re grandfathered, and the 50% rule starts being toted up as of July, 2013. If your are non-compliant – and I believe most existing homes fit into that category – then any improvement dollars you or your predecessors have made since 1986 are counted against future allowances. It’s my guess, then, that most older homes are already past that 50% rule and there owners will not be allowed to do anything, inside or out, unless they jack everything up 575 feet (or so).

        • Anonymous

          Who has records since 1986? How can they prove what you have done or not done, especially if you bought the house more recently.

          • Building department has records. Of course, the building department’s never open to the public so good luck gaining access to those records, but aren’t you reassured by knowing that, if you were permitted behind the velvet rope, the information you need would be waiting for you?

  29. Anonymous

    the more important question is what will happen to the prices at chicken joe’s?

  30. Anonymous

    dumb question but how the hell is anyone supposed to know what improvements have been done? what does the city do, look at all permits taken out on the house and assign a value to it? what if a crappy job was done in 1987 and looks just as crappy today, i.e. a worthless renovation?

    • They will go back to those permits and extract the dollar amounts. The good news for homeowners is that (inflation since 1986 means that improvements made then would have cost far less than they would now, so the ht isn’t so severe and (b) everybody lies about that cost when applying for a permit because the cost of the permit is based on the estimate of the cost of the work to be performed. And by “lie”, I don’t mean lying by over-estimating the cost.

  31. Anonymous

    Cos Cobber,

    The 50% rule has been in effect for 10 years or more. Other than the retail establishments that hug route 1, and a few streets such as relay place, most homes in the area surrounding rte1 have fisrt floors above the base flood elevation particularly the older homes. Drive around loughlin park, parts of Strickland , mill pond and you will see most house have high stairs going up to the first floor. As long as your house is above the BFE the cost to come into compliance is minimal an you can renovate to your hearts delight.

    The real issue here is OG and Riv. When the base flood elevation changes by 4-6 feet you are now talking about a first floor 8-9 feet above the ground.

    • cos cobber

      Don’t think anyone will see this comment now that the heard has moved on.

      Anywho, here goes..Did they raise the BFE 1 ft for most homes in Cos Cob or am I misunderstanding the BFE list? Seems like most went from 10ft to 11ft.

      • anon

        Does anyone know whether the BFE list includes every home that has any BFE requirement at all? If an address is not on that list does that mean the house is not in a flood zone at all?

        • I believe those on the list are just in the “velocity” zones, relating to Long Island Sound action. Inland flooding areas were not addressed at the meeting nor do I believe they’re changing, for now. Again, I defer to the Finklemeister for a definitive answer.

        • anon

          Thank you in advance Finklemeister and Fountain

  32. Anonymous

    Ok. My bad. Thanks to Mike Finkbeiner for providing the detail.

    It appears that nowhere in Cos Cob did the elevation change but some additional houses were given the privilege of being added to the flood zone. Looks like Willowmere circle in Old Greenwich is the worst with a five feet change in elevation.

  33. Anonymous

    No global warming eh?


    If a house 2010 base flood elevation is at 19 F and the proposed 2013 base flood elevation is at 14 F, does the proposed P&Z rules apply? What other headache should I expect?