The town's Planning and Zoning Department is planning to schedule more time for appointments to advise property owners who will be seeking permits needed to repair storm damage from Hurricane Sandy.
"Based upon preliminary assessments, close to 300 buildings suffered damage during the storm," Planning and Zoning Director Laurence Bradley said in a statement.
People seeking information about the permit process to make storm repairs, he said, can take advantage of the additional time being set aside for such appointments, but "should make sure to inform P&Z staff that you are specifically requesting approvals to repair storm damage."
The P&Z office can be reached at 203-341-1030, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The P&Z staff also issued the following guidelines to help owners first determine if they need permits for storm repairs and, if they do, what kinds of permits they should apply for.
An owner needs to ascertain the status of a property by answering the following questions:
Is the property located within a regulated flood zone?
Is the first floor of the building above or below the 100-year flood level?
Is there a basement or cellar below grade?
Does the building currently conform to the town's zoning regulations (factors such as height, setbacks and coverage)?
That information may be available from the owner's survey of a property or from the town's website on the Geographic Information System. If work has been done a building within the past 15 years, it is likely that this information is on file with the Planning & Zoning Department -- owners can call the office to check on this: 203-341-1030 or via email email@example.com
Preparing for an appointment with the P&Z staff:
If a structure is not within a regulated flood zone and conforms to zoning regulations (height, setbacks, coverage), the owner can make an appointment and bring the plans the P&Z office for a permit.
However, if a building is within a regulated flood zone and conforms to zoning (height, setbacks, coverage), the owner must take the following steps:
If possible, determine if the first floor is above the 100-year flood level and that the house is completely above grade. If yes, the owner can make a permit appointment. If no or unsure, a detailed cost estimate of the repair work and a "Substantial Improvement Form" must be completed at least two business days prior to the appointment. See Form: http://bit.ly/TbRIC0
If the first floor of a building is below the 100-year flood level and the value of repairs is determined to be a "substantial improvement" (more than 50 percent of the adjusted market value of the building only) than the owner is required to elevate the first floor of the building and all building mechanical systems to above the 100-year flood level. If the building has a basement, this will most likely have to be filled up to the 100-year flood level.
If a building does not conform to zoning rules (height, setbacks, coverage) and must be raised to comply with the 100-year flood elevation, in addition to the previously listed steps the owner will need to obtain a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals. P&Z staff must conduct a ZBA staff check review prior to the owner making an application to the ZBA for a variance.
The P&Z appointment
Once the owner has determined if a property is a) conforming or non-conforming to the zoning regulations; b) located within or not within a regulated flood zone; c) doing work that constitutes a "substantial improvement," and d) needs or not a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals, an appointment with the P&Z staff can be booked.
Owners also must obtain a sign-off from the Conservation Department before a zoning appointment.
Properties with onsite septic systems must obtain approval from the Westport Weston Health District.
If an owner needs a variance, visit http://bit.ly/U9lTIQ for a ZBA application and a check list of required items for a variance application.
For a zoning permit appointment, see http://bit.ly/ROHIxe for a list of required documents. In addition, the owner needs a zoning permit application form.