Tag Archive | "FEMA"

Sagaponack Holds Off on FEMA

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Just last week, it seemed the Sagaponack Village Board of Trustees was ready to adopt the new FEMA regulations, regarding the limit moderate wave action (LIMWA) line designation on the revised FEMA maps. But after reviewing draft legislation prepared by Village Attorney Anthony Tohill, mayor Don Louchheim announced at the trustee’s monthly meeting on Monday that he needed more information.

“I can’t make heads or tails of this,” reported Louchheim to his fellow board members. “I had the impression that there were going to be minor amendments to the law we passed in 2007. This is significantly different.”

In 2007, the village approved a flood prevention code, said village clerk Rhodi Winchell. She added that a code was modeled after a law presented to the village by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. By passing the flood prevention code, continued Winchell, the village became a part of the FEMA program and eligible for the flood insurance program for the municipality.

At the village work session held last Monday, Louchheim relayed a conversation he had with Tohill, in which Tohill reported that the new regulations wouldn’t necessarily alter the appearance of homes in the village. Louchheim added that he couldn’t ascertain if there was a difference in substance and content between the two legal documents or if it was a difference in technical language and structure.

“The structure is different [between the two documents.] The order of things has changed, and you can’t read one against the other because it is hard to compare the two,” continued Louchheim. “For the layman, it is hard to understand.”

Louchheim requested that Tohill write-up a memorandum detailing the differences between the 2007 village flood laws and the draft legislation for the new LIMWA regulations, before the village approves the draft for New York State Department of Environmental Conservation review.

As relayed to the board by Louchheim last week, Tohill said if the village chooses not to enact the new regulations they will most likely not be entitled to federal flood insurance for the entire municipality, which could adversely affect residents. Louchheim noted at the meeting last week that it is extremely difficult for prospective homeowners to obtain a mortgage without the availability of flood insurance.

Draft legislation pertaining to the new FEMA regulations must be sent to the DEC by June 25.

Although stalled on the issue of the new FEMA regulations, the board granted Ocean Zendo’s request to park on Bridge Lane, a street notorious for parking issues, in the summer months. The Buddhist congregation asked for parking passes which would let them station their cars in front of the Peter Matthiessen property, where the Zendo is located. Sarah Jaffe Turnball, a member of the group, reported to the board that it was often difficult for elderly members to navigate the unfinished and overgrown road leading up to the meeting house. Currently, parking is restricted during the day on this road, but the board will make an exception to accommodate the Zendo. They will issue roughly 10 special parking permits for the principal members of the group.

Sagaponack to Okay FEMA lines

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Last week at their trustees meeting, North Haven Village adopted the “limwa,” or “limit moderate wave action,” regulations proposed by FEMA in regards to flood maps. This week Sagaponack Village also discussed the new guidelines.

Mayor Donald Louchheim informed the board that he and village attorney Anthony Tohill spoke at length on Tuesday morning about the limwa line regulations.

“[Tohill] said it is sound municipal policy to regulate and limit construction in the beach zone,” reported Louchheim. In Louchheim’s conversations with the village attorney, Tohill added that the municipalities who choose not to enact the new regulations will not be entitled to flood insurance for the entire municipality. Louchheim noted that it is next to impossible to obtain a mortgage from a bank without adequate flood insurance.

“We have no choice but to do it,” said Louchheim, who asked Tohill why FEMA made the adoption of the regulations optional. Louchheim reported that Tohill’s estimation was FEMA wanted to minimize federal exposure to insurance claims.

Louchheim also voiced reservations with regards to FEMA putting pressure on municipalities to increase the height limitations of buildings. He reported that Tohill said that this was not the case and that most municipalities who enacted the regulations will not change their height limitations. Louchheim said Tohill added that it will not necessarily change the appearance of homes.

The village must send a draft copy of the regulations to New York State Department of Conservation, and must bear in mind the August 25 deadline to reply to FEMA. The regulations, if adopted, must be enacted by September 25.

By adopting the limwa line regulations, Sagaponack Village will follow suit with nearby municipalities like Sag Harbor, North Haven and Quogue, who have all enacted these regulations.

Following Trustee Lisa Duryea Thayer’s report on the zoning board of appeals and the architectural and historical review board, Louchheim added that these boards might see a record number of home construction applications in the next month as people anticipate the adoption of the new FEMA regulations.

Perlman Party Okayed

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The Perlman Music Program’s August Benefit, to be held at the Dusenberry residence on Ferry Road, was approved on Tuesday night by the North Haven Village Board of Trustees. Rachel Coker, the membership and special events manager for the program, originally visited the board in early April to discuss the benefit. During this initial visit, village attorney Anthony Tohill asked Coker to formulate a comprehensive plan for onsite safety and parking. Subsequently, the program hired an outside and experienced security firm to handle parking and traffic direction. At the beginning of the event a few security workers will be stationed on Route 114 ushering traffic into the property.
The board also adopted the LIMWA, or limit of moderate wave action line, on the new Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood maps. Tohill said the adoption of the LIMWA line would have no discernable effect on homes in North Haven, but could lead to a village-wide 5 percent discount on flood insurance. Tohill also informed the village board that it’s on a bit of a time crunch in terms of adopting a law pertaining to the new flood insurance rates. FEMA must see a draft of the law no later than June 25. The law must be enacted by August 25 to be put into effect on September 25.
Resident Howard Griffith again asked the board about the potential of purchasing 13 small radios and antennas to give to neighborhood coordinators for emergency situations.
“If the telephone or electricity goes out, there is going to be no way to communicate with neighborhood coordinators,” said Griffith.
Tohill said the village is looking into renewing their franchise agreement with Cablevision. He said the company has been known to offer local government money for educational broadcasting, including funds for equipment purchases. Since the village doesn’t need broadcasting equipment, Tohill believes the company might be willing to cover some of the costs to purchase the emergency radios and antennas.

Flood Map Source of Confusion

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The recent implementation of new flood maps by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is confusing for homeowners, as well as village and town officials. Many have found their threat of flooding has been reduced, while others find they are newly in a flood zone.

Jeff Sander, a North Haven Village resident, was in a high-risk zone for flooding before the new maps were issued last November, but now his home has been moved to a lower-risk zone, like many property owners in Sag Harbor.

Sander said he received a notice from the Town of Southampton suggesting he look online at the new maps. In that letter the town intended to inform residents that there have been some changes to the flood zones and recommended residents decide if they wanted to purchase flood insurance prior to the adoption of the final maps, “due to certain grandfathering provisions.”

Sander is one of many in the area still struggling to find out what that will mean when he gets the insurance bill he is expecting in the next couple months.

Last week, Southampton Town Stormwater Manager Walter Bundy, at the request of councilwoman Nancy Graboski, held a meeting with representatives of FEMA, regarding the new Federal Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) in order to ask for some clarification and an extension of the February 4, 2009 deadline for appeals. At the meeting, it was decided that appeals for homeowners will be extended to next Wednesday, February 25.

Sag Harbor village planner Richard Warren said in an email to Sagaponack village officials, that the FEMA representatives at last week’s meeting will be taking some of the concerns from the local municipalities back to Washington for further discussion, and that more public outreach might be necessary, “especially with insurance carriers.”

“It takes us two years to process a 10-lot subdivision,” Graboski said during a work session prior to that meeting, “We have a significant comprehensive project so that is really not enough time.”

Many people like Sander who live on the water, seem to have been spared, according to George Simonson, an insurance agent in Sag Harbor.

Simonson said the village received “better zones that they deserved.” He said there are fewer homes in the high elevation flood zones now than there were before the new FEMA maps in November.

Simonson said the cost of federal flood insurance for one year should be around $352 or “almost a dollar a day.” That, he said, would cover up to $250,000 for a single home and $100,000 of the contents.

The problem with that, he explained, is that most of the homes on or near the shoreline in the area are valued much higher than $250,000. He said homeowners who want their full home covered would need to take out additional insurance through excess and surplus lines markets, for example through Lloyds of London.

Those who live in the flood plain, explained Aram Terchunian, a Coastal Geologist for First Coastal out of Westhampton Beach, usually carry four types of insurance: flood, excess coverage (for the remaining value of the home over $250,000), wind and storm insurance, and homeowners insurance.

He said for homeowners who would now be included in the flood zone, the flood insurance premium will stay the same or be reduced, but the three other types of insurances are “likely to increase.”

Sander said that even though his home has been taken from the highest risk zone and moved back into a lower risk zone, and the insurance is not required, he will maintain his coverage.

Simonson said the cost of insurance for those living in Sag Harbor should go down, or, at the very least, remain the same as it was before the new maps.

Eileen Kenna, a Shinnecock Hills resident, received the same notice as Sander. She said that her home wasn’t in a flood zone before and by looking at the maps online, her home still remains outside the flood plain line.

“I went on the website and I am not in the flood zone,” Kenna said, “So I am not going to get flood insurance.”

Kenna said that just a few years ago, her homeowners insurance was dropped because her home is near a flood plain. Fortunately, she said, she was able to obtain new homeowners insurance from an alternative company.

“They messed up in New Orleans, when the hurricane hit,” she said, “so now they are doing all this to cover themselves.”

Simonson agrees. He said now, in that portion of the country, there are some discrepancies over who is going to cover the homes that were affected by flooding.

Now FEMA is attempting to avoid a similar incident happening on Long Island, if such a situation should occur.

Sag Harbor village planner, Rich Warren said he believes the issues are complex, and he is certain there will be “more to come.”


You can check your property at www.suffolknyfloodmaps.com.


With New FEMA Maps, Some Are Out of the Flood Plain

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Richard Warren rounded out his tour of presenting the new FEMA flood maps at the Sag Harbor Village Trustees Public Worksession, on Tuesday, December 9. Thanks to FEMA’s multimillion-dollar effort to update Long Island’s flood maps, using a new digital data system, NAS 1988, and special topography analysis with a type of radar analysis, many Sag Harbor homeowners will find themselves out of the flood plain. Using these new maps, the village will see a 47% reduction in the number of homes in the flood plain. Warren advises these homeowners to retain their flood insurance.

One purpose of Warren’s visit was to advise the board on how and when the village should adopt new flood plain management laws that adhere to the new federal and state building standards. Time is of the essence for adopting these laws, he said. There is a 90 day appeal period, which began in November. The board has six months, from the end of the appeal period, to adopt the new laws. If there are no appeals, the new laws could take effect by August. However, if an appeal is filed, it must first be resolved, and then the board would have six months to update its law.

Before the end of this six-month period, the Board of Trustees must present a draft of the laws to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The laws must be passed at least one month before the end of the six-month final map adoption period. FEMA mandated this extra month to review the laws and to correct any errors.

As the worksession drew to a close Sag Harbor Village mayor Greg Ferraris asked Warren if these new laws would affect the new zoning code, which the board hopes to adopt before June. Warren assured Ferraris that the updated FEMA flood maps wouldn’t significantly affect the new zoning code because the adoption of the flood plain regulations are on a different schedule than the new zoning code. Later, Warren added that after the adoption of the new maps, article 16 of the new zoning code would have to be adjusted: “I look at this as more administrative changes that are needed to reflect the new refinement of the flood maps. It’s more important that we make sure the proper maps are being used by the building inspector.”

Ferraris was also concerned about the homeowners who would now be inside the flood plain, when they had previously been outside of it. Ferraris suggested that the board mail out letters to these homes alerting them of their new flood status. He hoped to put it on the agenda for the March meeting.


 Above image: Worksessions attendee review a slide from the FEMA flood map slideshow presentation, as Richard Warren explained who would be in and who would be out of the flood plain. 


Planning for Floods in North Haven

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As the tides change, apparently so do the flood plains. The last time the flood zones were assessed in the village of North Haven 145 houses were in a high risk flood zone; now, in the most recent assessment, only 20 homes are in the zone.
“That’s an 86 percent reduction of houses on the flood plain,” said North Haven Environmental Planning Consultant Rich Warren at a village board meeting there on Monday. Warren gave a presentation using the new Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood maps indicating where standards have changed and which houses are considered vulnerable along the coast in North Haven.
“These were surprising changes,” Warren said, “They [FEMA] are predicting what a 100-year storm might do – if it would be something like the 1938 hurricane.”
Warren explained that all the work for the past flood maps were compiled using an old data system – NGDV 1929 — which was less accurate and has been updated to a new, digital data system – NAS 1988.
“The land didn’t change, the reference point changed,” said Warren who added that the new reference point for the flood maps is down one foot, which has reduced the number of homes in the flood plain in some places like North Haven. But in other places, like Sagaponack, he noted, the number of homes in the flood zone have risen from 46 to 119 largely due to beach erosion and damage from significant storms that have occurred in the past.
Sag Harbor Village, Warren said, has seen a similar reduction of homes in the flood plain, from 179 to 46 — a 47 percent reduction.
The presentation Warren gave the North Haven board was put together by FEMA and given last month to building inspectors and other town officials in Southampton. Warren said that FEMA hired a Virginia firm to conduct an extensive study on Long Island.
Warren explained that the “special flood hazard area” or “base flood” is commonly known as the 100- year flood plain, but can more accurately be thought of as an area that has a 1 percent chance of experiencing a flood in any given year. Warren noted that the chance of a base flood happening is 26 percent in a 30-year period.
Somes in the V zones – zones, which are at highest risk of a flood in North Haven — must be above the base flood elevation plus an additional two feet as required by State law. Homes in an A zone are less at risk than a V zone property.
“Those in zone X are the least likely to experience a flood,” Warren said for homes further away from the shoreline in North Haven.
“They [FEMA] are encouraging people not to drop their flood insurance even if they are no longer in the floodplain,” Warren said and noted that the maps only rely on computer modeling.
During the meeting, North Haven trustee Jim Smyth asked Warren, “What’s happening to my bar?”
Smyth’s business, The Corner Bar is right on a flood plain line, bordering to zone X.
Warren said it was “worth looking into” because it is right on a floodplain line. Warren also noted that the site – http://rmc.mapmodteam.com/RMC2/Counties_Suffolk.htm –
is being set up so residents and business owners can enter their addresses and the site will accurately depict in which flood zone a particular property is located.

Filming in North Haven:
Also on Monday night, the village board adopted a new local law for filming in the village and set a public hearing for January 6 at 5 p.m.
Two months ago at their regular monthly meeting, the village trustees in North Haven were concerned with the wording of a draft local law concerning filming in their area. Last time, deputy mayor Jeff Sander said the board should consider adding a more descriptive definition of filming for the area and also recommended adding more uses for the methods of viewing the footage. Sander also questioned the requirements on filming for educational purposes and said he believed permits should only be required for commercial projects.
The draft law was sent back to the drawing board for village attorney Anthony Tohill to reconsider. Tohill decided not to change the draft legislation and it was presented on Monday night, in its original form.
The new law requires a permit to be obtained from the village of North Haven first, before any filming may take place in the village. The fine for failing to obtain a permit can be up to $1,000. The price of the permit, however, varies on the size and scope of the project.

East End Digest – July 17

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Sag Harbor: A Legal Education
Twenty East End lawyers and 10 Suffolk County District Attorneys gathered at The American Hotel on Friday for a seminar on “Evidence at the Drunk Driving Trial,” taught by Albany lawyer Peter Gerstenzang. The seminar was co-hosted by Patricia Weiss and Edward Burke, Jr. — both Sag Harbor attorneys. Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano joined the attorneys who were instructed on the topic of police officer testimony at trials.

Above: Sag Harbor attorney Brian De Sesa, lecturer and attorney Peter Gerstenzang and Sag Harbor lawyer Edward Burke, Jr. at a Continuing Legal Education Seminar on Friday. (patricia weiss photo)

Amagansett Farmers Market: Purchase Complete

John v.H. Halsey, President of the Peconic Land Trust announced on Monday, July 14 the formal closing of the transaction that conserves the Amagansett Farmers Market. The Trust will lease the property from Margaret de Cuevas, a long-time supporter of its conservation work. Ms. de Cuevas purchased the property from Pat Struk for $5.5 million; simultaneously, the Town of East Hampton purchased the development rights on 7.56 acres of the 9.33-acre property.

The conservation of the Amagansett Farmers Market and attendant farmland has been under discussion for many years.

“Conservation transactions are complex, and it is not unusual for these transactions to take years before they reach fruition. We are very grateful to Pat Struk for working with us to conserve the market and cannot express fully our gratitude to Maggie de Cuevas for her on-going support of the trust’s conservation work as exemplified by this important acquisition,” said Halsey.

In addition to de Cuevas and Struk, Halsey noted the critical role that the Town of East Hampton played through the purchase of the development rights on the 7.56 acres of farmland included in the market property.

“This transaction shows the power of public and private partnerships. It is a wonderful day for the Trust, the town, and the Amagansett community. We look forward to a vibrant market in Amagansett that highlights the importance of our regional agricultural economy,” Halsey added.

At the closing, the trust announced that it will be signing an operator’s agreement with Eli Zabar, the Manhattan Upper West Side food purveyor, through November 30, 2011. Zabar plans to maintain the community orientation of the market. He, and his wife Devon Fredericks, a long-time East Hampton resident who started Loaves and Fishes, vow to work with the Trust to highlight the importance of regional produce and provide an opportunity for local farmers, fishermen, artisans, and others to sell their products at the market.

Citizens For Fred Thiele: Four Endorsements

New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. of Sag Harbor has received the nomination of four statewide political parties for re-election to the New York State Assembly from the second Assembly district, which includes East Hampton, Southampton and southeastern Brookhaven town. Thiele, an independent Republican, has served in the state assembly since 1995. For the 2008 election, Thiele has been endorsed by the Republican, Independence, Working Families and Conservative parties.

“First, let me thank the rank and file members of all four political parties who signed petitions on my behalf,” said Thiele. “I also want to thank the hard working political activists of these parties that made the effort to go door to door during these hot summer days to insure that I would be on the ballot this fall.”

“I am proud to be the nominee of four different political parties which span the spectrum of political ideology in New York State,” he continued. “It demonstrates that my approach of working with people of all political stripes for the common good of eastern Long Island is what people want from their government officials. Excessive partisanship and attack politics may serve the interests of short-sighted political leaders, but it doesn’t solve the problems faced by every day people. Voters want proven leaders who can get things done.”

The seven-term incumbent emphasized that he will campaign on his record of accomplishment during the coming campaign.

“I have worked tirelessly on issues such as education, the environment, health care, and tax reform,” said Thiele. “My district has benefited from record increases in school aid, the new SUNY college campus at Southampton, the Community Preservation Fund to protect open space, state funding for our local hospitals, state funding to protect our bays and waterways like the Peconic Bay and the Forge River the defeat of Broadwater, and new and innovative transportation projects like the South Fork Commuter Shuttle.”

Congress: Hurricane Supplies

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Congressman Peter King welcomed news from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will begin to pre-deploy hurricane supplies to Long Island as early as the end of next week. Because of Long Island’s unique geography, Clinton and King have been pushing FEMA to provide hurricane supplies to the area as was previously done in 2006. In the event that a hurricane does hit Long Island, having supplies already positioned will ensure that residents will be able to receive the assistance and goods that they need in the immediate aftermath.

“it has taken some prodding, but today’s announcement is a clear signal that FEMA intends to take the necessary steps to ensure that Long Islanders get the supplies they need if a hurricane were to hit,” said Clinton on Friday. “While this is a step in the right direction, we are already deep into the hurricane season and cannot afford any delays. I will continue to work to ensure that this process moves forward so that Suffolk and Nassau have the supplies they need.”

“I am pleased to see that FEMA has recognized the urgency in ensuring that Long Island’s prepared to respond in the event of a hurricane,” said King. “I urge them to move as expeditiously as possible to fully stock the facilities.”

According to FEMA, the agency will be moving four pre-positioned disaster supplies containers to Suffolk County by the end of the week. The four 48-foot containers with non perishable item including tents, tarps, generators and first aid kits are scheduled to arrive at the Yaphank office of the county’s fire, rescue and emergency services commission.

State Legislature: Gas Bill Accepted

New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. announced this week that the New York State Legislature has given final passage to state legislation that would promote competition and lower retail gas prices by permitting gasoline retailers to sell unbranded gasoline in addition to their branded product.

The bill amends the General Business Law to invalidate any provision of a franchise with a refiner that would prohibit a dealer or distributor from selling or purchasing unbranded motor fuel. This bill would permit service station dealers who own their own retail locations and distributors who supply such locations to sell unbranded motor fuel.

Motor fuel franchise agreements typically include provisions which permit a service station dealer or distributor to use a particular identifying symbol or trade name owned or controlled by a refiner. In exchange for that right the dealer or distributor must purchase and sell motor fuel supplied solely by the refiner. Distributors are likewise prohibited from supplying unbranded motor fuel to franchised dealers. This situation limits the availability of unbranded motor fuel to New York’s drivers at a time when motor fuel prices are escalating.

“By permitting retailers to sell unbranded fuel, each retailer can go to the wholesale marketplace and find the least expensive product and provide those saving to their customers,” said Thiele. “This legislation breaks the unfair monopolistic practices that Big Oil attempts to impose on retailers. The result will be more competition, more choice, and lower prices for consumers.

The bill now goes before the Governor for approval.

In addition, Thiele has also sponsored and supported the elimination of zone pricing, which has passed the Assembly and the institution of windfall profits on major oil companies with the proceeds to be used for home heating fuel grants and energy conservation, which has also passed the Assembly. Thiele has also sponsored legislation to suspend state taxes on motor fuels, which the senate has passed.

Long Island Farm Bureau: Annual Awards

The Long Island Farm Bureau will honor Dr. Dan Damianos of Pindar Vineyards and Mr. Patrick Voges of NSLGA, both prominent figures in the agricultural community, at Long Island Farm Bureau’s 91st Annual Awards Dinner. The event will take place on Saturday, July 26 at Martha Clara Vineyard.

Dr. Dan Damianos founded Pindar Vineyard in 1979, starting off with just 30 acres of uncultivated land and a vision of grand possibilities for his fledgling vineyard. Now he runs 600 acres in Mattituck, Cutchogue, Peconic and Southold with his three sons Alex, Jason and Pindar Damianos. New vineyards today “have the template” developed by Dr. Dan, one of the industry’s leading pioneers

Mr. Patrick Voges has been involved in the Long Island Horticultural Industry for over 40 years and worked hands-on with the NSLGA. The Farm Bureau commends Mr. Voges for connecting Farm Bureau with NSLGA and realizing the potential behind two strong organizations joining together to speak on behalf of Long Island’s agricultural industry.

In addition, the dinner will boast a cornucopia of “Grown on Long Island” foods and wines provided by local farmers and producers. Ticket sales are open to the public and will include a wide variety of door prizes. Also, the drawing for LIFB’s Annual Raffle will be held at the close of the awards dinner. Prizes include a grand prize of $10,000 cash, a Caribbean vacation and a 42-inch flat panel TV.