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Inherited-property changes may have big impact in wealthy areas

Some Belvedere residents seeking to remodel their homes could soon face a host of new requirements — including third-party appraisals, one-year windows for phased projects and a standardized construction-cost benchmark — as part of the city’s effort to tighten loopholes that can allow homeowners to sidestep costly floodplain rules. The package of proposed ordinance and policy changes cleared a major hurdle last week when the Belvedere Planning Commission voted 6-0 at its Jan. 19 teleconference meeting to forward the recommended changes to the City Council for approval. Roughly 300 homeowners in Belvedere’s flood zone, which includes the lagoon and West Shore Road areas, are required to raise the base height of their home a foot above the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s flood levels if they rebuild or if a project qualifies as a “substantial improvement,” meaning construction costs equal 50 percent or more of the assessed value of the home.

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