Although the Witt family is one step closer to obtaining a floodplain variance from the planning board, the fight to reinhabit their home at 615 First St. may not be over.
The Witts appeared before the Village of Mamaroneck Planning Board on Feb. 8 after the village building department halted repairs being done on their flood-damaged home for lack of a variance. The family has been displaced since Aug. 28 and has been struggling to maintain both their mortgage payments and the cost of rent while they wait out the repairs.
While the planning board was able to grant the variance with conditions, it was revealed that the state may require its own additional drainage variances, which could, in turn, tie the building department’s hands, causing them to halt the issuance of a floodplain development permit, potentially causing further delay to the Witts returning.
Despite the family's haste to return to their home, several more issues were raised at the special meeting in response to additional documentation submitted by the applicant.
“We were a little surprised at how relatively little it would cost to raise the house and bring the costs into compliance,” said board member Stewart Sterk, referring to the 4.4 feet requirement that was discussed in a previous meeting. The costs to repair the home are estimated at $100K, although the cost to raise the home was not made public.
As a potential warning to future owners of the home, Sterk requested a variance condition that stipulated if a comparable renovation was necessary within the next decade, that the house would have to be raised.
“One of the aspects of this perfect storm is the sad reality that if the village had been approved back in September for the FEMA program this would have been considered,” countered Clark Neuringer, an architect retained by the couple.
Neuringer also argued that the work currently being done would lessen any future repairs from flooding, which was likely to be less severe than Tropical Storm Irene.
Other board members wondered aloud if some other entity could be to blame.
“It looks like your insurance company skirted their responsibility—they cut a check and ran,” said Board Chair Michael Ianniello.
At times, the discussion was contentious, with Neuringer disputing the structural integrity and hydrostatic issues that the board raised.
“We have asked you for a couple of details on this so we can vote and you’re being obstinate,” said Ianniello.
The variance was approved unanimously by the board with three conditions including that any expenditures made to date would count toward the calculation of a standard improvement for the next decade; the applicant must comply with the requirements of Village Code 186 to the maximum extent practical and a declaration of the content of the resolution to protect future buyers.
The Planning Board will meet again on Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. in the Village of Mamaroneck courtroom.