Cuomo Proposes Bold Plan to Return NY Coastline to Nature

An ambitious plan being proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo would see $400 million spent to purchase homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy with the intent of demolishing them and returning their properties to undeveloped coastline, reports Thomas Kaplan.

Doubling down on his statements in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy that "New York needs to reconsider the way it develops its coast," has proposed a buyout program using money from the $51 billion disaster relief package approved by Congress last week.

"The purchase program, which still requires approval from federal officials, would be among the most ambitious ever undertaken, not only in scale but also in how Mr. Cuomo would be using the money to begin reshaping coastal land use. Residents living in flood plains with homes that were significantly damaged would be offered the pre-storm value of their houses to relocate; those in even more vulnerable areas would be offered a bonus to sell; and in a small number of highly flood-prone areas, the state would double the bonus if an entire block of homeowners agreed to leave," explains Kaplan.

"The land would never be built on again. Some properties could be turned into dunes, wetlands or other natural buffers that would help protect coastal communities from ferocious storms; other parcels could be combined and turned into public parkland."

"Any reshaping of the coastline will be not only costly, but also difficult," Kaplan adds. "Many residents of shoreline communities in New York City and on Long Island live in homes that have been passed along from generation to generation, and are not eager to hear government officials suggest that they move elsewhere, even voluntarily."

“'There is a loyalty here,' said Harvey Weisenberg, a longtime lifeguard in Long Beach, N.Y., who represents the storm-tossed community in the State Assembly, as a Democrat. 'There’s an expression: we have the sand in our shoes. Once you’re here, you never want to leave, and if you do leave, you want to come back.'”

Full Story: Cuomo Seeking Home Buyouts in Flood Zones

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