A lawyer who wishes to remain anonymous because he has to deal with Diane Fox, Peter Tesei’s choice to head our P&Z staff, points out this little kicker in FEMA regs as interpreted by our P&Z employees:
Scenario: you are in the AE zone, 8′ above base flood level, and you are 7′ below compliance height (6′ FEMA, 1 ‘ to grow on courtesy of the Tesei bunch). You’ve never spent a dime on improvements on the house since you built in 1986 and, because it’s a lovely house, it – the house, not the land it sits on – has an appraised value of $1,000,000. That means you can spend $500,000, half that appraised value, on improvements without having to jack the house 7’ into the air, right?
Like an old man’s scent, it depends. If you have it in mind to bump out the kitchen to add a 15X15 breakfast nook, say, or perhaps a small library or, God forbid, an entire wing, you’re screwed: Diane and her crowd insist that if you leave the existing footprint, whatever you add must be built to comply with the new FEMA code, regardless of your allowable 50% budget. You want that breakfast nook? Bring a ladder, because it will be hovering seven feet above your cereal bowl. Same with that library and that wing? It just took off, soaring to the heavens. In other words, if you buy a non-complying house, you are buying, and stuck with, its exact footprint as it exists now – no adding on unless, of course, you bring a pogo stick to the table.
Does FEMA require this? Absolutely not. Does Diane? Absolutely yes. And by his acquiescence, so too does First Selectman Peter Tesei. I think that, just as our president has claimed ObamCare as his own, we should start referring to the FEMA code as interpreted and enforced by Tesei’s staff as TeseiRegs. Just a suggestion.