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Queens Chronicle

Cuomo signs Breezy Point rebuilding bill

New law would allow residents to forego variances in reconstruction

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Posted: Thursday, July 18, 2013 10:30 am

Gov. Cuomo signed into a law Friday a bill that will allow Breezy Point residents to expedite building permits and waive some requirements to foster quicker redevelopment of the community devastated by Hurricane Sandy.

The law sponsored by Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Park) and state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) will waive the application and review process for permits to reconstruct homes, which can now take anywhere from six to 18 months.

Breezy Point was one of the hardest hit communities in the region. The entire neighborhood at the tip of the Rockaway Peninsula flooded and a fast-moving fire leveled more than 100 homes.

The community is a special case because many of the homes there do not meet building codes since they are built on mapped road beds and in closer proximity to each other than city regulations allow.

“Every house in Breezy Point requires a variance,” Goldfeder explained. “And typically they can take as long as a year to get.”

Many reisdents in Breezy Point have already applied for the variances and are still waiting, which is slowing down the neighborhood’s recovery, Goldfeder said.

Nearly every one of the more than 100 homes that burned to the ground during Sandy have still not been rebuilt and a giant gaping sand-filled hole still exists in the middle of the neighborhood when seen from above.

The bill passed the Assembly in May, but was not put to a vote in the Senate until mid-June. It passed both houses unanimously.

Residents and civic leaders in Breezy Point welcomed the news of the governor’s signature.

“Today, Gov. Cuomo followed through on his promise to do whatever he could in order to help our community rebuild,” Arthur Lighthall of the Breezy Point Cooperative said in a statement. “Now, rather than spend the summer swimming in a sea of red tape, we can start rebuilding the hundreds of homes tragically lost during Hurricane Sandy. If there is one thing that Breezy Point has shown time and time again, it is that we are a resilient community. We will rebuild and come back stronger than before.”

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