Coming attraction

Tomorrow, after I speak with architect Ed Davis and some other FEMA experts I’ll post on what’s happening to coastal homes down in Old Greenwich. It’s ugly. I understand that Diane Fox and her friends at the P&Z are interpreting the space below each newly raised house as its “first floor”, with the result that you will now be maxed out at a one-and-one-half story house. I also understand that the FEMA grant application to receive funds to pay for raising your house is scheduled to end next week, October 15th.

A year or so down the road, Old Greenwich homeowners are going to go try to sell their residences and will discover that (a) it will cost $300,000 or so to make their home FEMA-comnpliant; (b) the federal money for that is long gone; and (c) buyers are going to offer them mere pennies for the land they once thought was going to fund their retirement.

It won’t be pretty. Stay tuned.


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17 responses to “Coming attraction

  1. Coastal communities have said no to FEMA and created their own Enterprise Fund to alleviate insurance costs and control mitigation protocols.
    This can be done neighborhood by neighborhood not required to cover whole municipal entity.

  2. Anonymous

    Is there no legal recourse or right of appeal if you are on the receiving end of one of these arbitrary decisions? Who is the higher power here? I wish I was a lawyer, I would go after them. Probably a fruitless pursuit otherwise somebody else would have succeeded.

  3. Anonymous

    Mid country keeps looking better and better.

  4. Anonymous

    It is all too easy to labor under the impression we live in a “free” country. There are no more sobering experiences to disabuse one of this notion than (1) our taxation and (2) coastal regulation. You don’t own a damn thing. You’re simply renting it from the ultimate owner, our government.

  5. Fluid Grid

    Just what we heard from friends.
    6 months ago the talk was 150k and covered mostly by FEMA.
    3 months ago it was 275k and 3/4 covered by FEMA
    Yesterday it hit the 500k mark.
    Better off paying the insurance.
    Or starting up a flood insurance company of your own.
    And judging by the way things are going on the upper eastern seaboard, a fresh, affordable flood insurance company start up would more than fund any retirement you could ever imagine.

    Just saying.

    Hey Walt, got any bucks left for a start up?

  6. Flash

    What is the reason why you can’t fill your lot +-8 feet to raise your house? To protect neighbor? It may be cheaper to fill everyone. Look at the insanity in New Orleans that we are paying for.

  7. Accolay

    What if you live in these communities near the water, close enough to it for the neighborhood views, but elevated enough not to be in a flood zone. Is this still a good investment relative to mid-country?

  8. Riverside

    This is confusing. I recall the recent Greenwich Times article about the house that was raised down in OG. The lower level was really just a covered carport, not finished space, since apparently it needs to be an “open” design or at a minimum built in a “breakaway” fashion. Are they now defining these spaces as finished space for FAR purposes? Or maybe this is more related to a “building height” limitation?

    I know that earlier P&Z had been giving variances for the height question, and that the town was working on a new policy in this regard (last heard about this about a month ago from the town officials.) I would be surprised is this is now “policy”, but stranger things have happened.

    • When asked about height limitations on stilt houses Diane Fox said owners would have to apply for individual variances. In effect, Fox is making every house down there non- conforming use and subject to her and her staff’s complete control.
      That’s how Fox wants it, naturally, but what do you think will happen to your property values if you can’t sell it with a clear statement of what can be built on it?
      In my experience, uncertainty kills value, and having your house plans held hostage by a P&Z staff and appeal board of strangers is going to cost you plenty.

  9. As a developer in Old Greenwich and Riverside I am literally blown away by the amount of misinformation and hysteria surrounding this issue. I appreciate we need more clarity from Town Hall and FEMA but meanwhile homes that aren’t even in the flood zone are being tarnished by ignorant brokers who have automatically declared south of Shore Rd a no go area. One such ignoramus arrived out our house on Binney Lane and declared it non compliant as it “must be in the flood zone”. It most clearly is not so she then declared it to be on “the evacuation route”..fortunately I wasn’t there otherwise I would have shown her exactly where the evacuation route was. This indecision at Town Hall helps noone but the less intelligent brokers out there need to start learning the facts. South of the village is and always will be a desirable place to live and the price disconnect with Riverside is now getting stretched. As for mid country versus OG and Riverside give me a flooded yard versus a fallen tree, a bike ride to the shops instead of a car and some neighbors versus solitary confinement ALL DAY LONG.

    • Flash

      So Gaz, what facts can you share with us? Can the AE zone fill? Can the VE zone exceed the height restrictions? If your house is on stilts, can your electric/sewer be underground?

  10. BTW

    Instead of asking Gaz for the facts, I would like to see the originator of this post, Chris Fountain, to show us where he got the facts.
    Provide us with the written source of your statement that “P&Z are interpreting the space below each newly raised house as its “first floor”, with the result that you will now be maxed out at a one-and-one-half story house”.

  11. Completely agree BTW. Flash I am building one on the water at 19 Ford Lane and about to start 10 Meadowbank so I will be happy to share but first let’s see how well informed Chris Fountain really is.

    • Toonces

      Yikes! All Chris is saying is that planning and zoning does not have clear rules for these flood zone locations. It is a case by case basis so you don’t know if they will approve your plans until they grant the height variance. This uncertainty will hurt sellers. If I owned a waterfront home and wanted to sell, I think I’d get plans drawn up and apply for the permit so that I could say I had approved plans for building. How much does that cost? Probably a lot. So either way, without clear rules, this will hurt values in flood zones.

    • Mickster

      Gazbo, I understand your frustration – you have several projects going on down there. Easiest solution for you is simple. Have your realtor specify in her listing remarks that the property is indeed compliant with whatever, then the ignoramae will be able to read that.
      Also, you obviously haven’t been reading CF long enough to know that maybe his posts are entirely 100% correct – that’s often a ploy of his to get a reaction – gotcha!!

  12. Once

    There is clearly a tug-of-war with house raising and height restrictions when someone goes to P&Z for a variance. Ed Davis is an architect that has specialized in piloting FEMA applications to comply with what ever it is they want so those wanting to raise their house can get money from the govt to pick up a portion of the tab. Davis has to draw plans that comply with the P&Z and the flood stuff and it will usually require a variance from the P&Z. I look forward to what CF gleans from Davis after he speaks to him and it would not surprise me if P&Z is taking advantage of the situation to the detriment of the homeowners. The m/o of P&Z is to stop any construction that they can. Our regs are punitive. Greenwich wants to “one up” FEMA buy adding one foot to the FEMA height requirements. Don’t forget that the zoning regs, at this time, calls your basement the “first story” if enough of it sticks out of the ground five feet or more. A raised ranch in Havemeyer is two stories according to P&Z regs but a foyer with a 30 foot ceiling height is one. We also now have the “lot coverage” ratios which were probably designed to screw those who gave up a garage for a carport (or FARport) to gain some living space.