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Islip Town Cuts Red Tape for Sandy Reconstruction

Emergency order allows residents to bypass Zoning Board if rebuilding in original footprint.

Dina Brandenstein's West Islip home flooded with eight inches of water during Hurricane Sandy.  

Brandenstein says she was "fortunate" as many of her neighbors on East Bay Drive fared much worse during the historic storm. 

"There is not one house that did not flood," said Bradenstein, the vice-president of the Babylon Beach Estates Association, a community of about 200 waterfront homes in West Islip. 

Bradenstein's family has been living elsewhere in West Islip since the storm hit. Islip Town officials are hoping to get Bradenstein and her neighbors back in their homes sooner rather than later. 

On Tuesday, Islip Town Supervisor Tom Croci signed an emergency order aimed at cutting some of the red tape usually associated with construction projects. 

"The order allows Islip property owners across our town to restore their damaged homes or small businesses in their pre-existing state without having to obtain a decision from our Zoning Board of Appeals," Croci said at the start of the Town Board meeting. "This will eliminate a sometimes long and costly process associated with new construction projects."

Typically, if a structure designated as a "nonconforming use" is destroyed beyond its market value, it cannot be rebuilt or repaired and the property becomes subject to current zoning regulations, according to a Town press release. 

The emergency order, which is retroactive to Oct. 30 and is in effect through April 13, 2013, will allow residents to "rebuild in the original footprint of the house without penalty or added obstacle."

The order only applies to those properties affected by Sandy. Those who need to rebuild will be able to do so as long as the new structure remains within the same size and dimensional footprint as the original building and no expansion plans are included. The order also eliminates a $200 building permit filing fee. 

"This Town has already suffered so much loss," Councilman Anthony Senft said in a statement. "This is our way of alleviating the additional frustrations and helping to mitigate the damage for our taxpayers."

For people such as Dina Brandenstein, who said it's "devastating" and "emotional" whenever she goes back to her damaged home, that's welcome news. 

"We really look forward to your support as we rebuild," Brandenstein told the board. 

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