The hum of construction that has been emanating from Breezy Point over the past year is expected to continue without being silenced by red tape, with lawmakers in Albany this week approving legislation that extends rebuilding aid for homeowners devastated by Hurricane Sandy, Queens legislators said Monday.
Members of the state Senate and Assembly unanimously approved legislation sponsored by state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) and Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Ozone Park), which, provided it is signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, would, for a second year, expedite repairs to Sandy-damaged homes by waiving time-consuming variances homeowners have to receive from the Board of Standards and Appeals before applying for permits from the city Department of Buildings.
“Almost two years after Hurricane Sandy made landfall, many of my Breezy Point constituents are still attempting to rebuild their lives and their homes in the community they love,” Addabbo said. “While the storm wreaked havoc and devastation throughout my Senate district and elsewhere, this neighborhood was battered beyond imagination. With the passage of the extender legislation, we are helping the people of Breezy Point to go forward and succeed in the ‘new normal’ that is the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.”
Goldfeder too praised the backing of the bill that was drafted in cooperation with the Breezy Point Cooperative following Sandy.
“This is another tremendous step in the recovery process for the families of Breezy Point,” Goldfeder said. “My own home and office was severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy, and I was not going to allow some archaic rules stand in the way of rebuilding and recovery in Breezy Point. The BSA process is a formality that our families cannot afford – and should not have to worry about.”
Breezy Point was one of the city’s communities hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy, with about 500 homes being destroyed or damaged. About 135 homes were ravaged by a six-alarm blaze that firefighters could not reach because of flooding by Sandy. Those homeowners who faced rebuilding their entire lives following the storm quickly discovered they were being strangled by bureaucracy because they had to receive a variance from the BSA – which can take as long as a year and a half – before being able to apply for DOB permits. Breezy Point homeowners had to receive the variance because their houses are not on the maps the city uses to determine who can receive a building permit.
“Extension of the bill to eliminate the need to file with the BSA will be valuable in assisting the hundreds of homeowners in our Breezy Point communities who are still working to rebuild their homes,” said Arthur Lighthall, general manager of the Breezy Point Cooperative.
By Anna Gustafson