As Climate Risk Grows, Cities Test a Tough Strategy: Saying ‘No’ to Developers

If that happens, “you have 30 homes sitting truly on an island,” said Gerald Harris, an attorney for Virginia Beach.

That the area floods is not in dispute. John Rice, who last year bought the house across the road from what would have been the entrance to the new development, said his property is under water constantly, “and we haven’t had a bad storm yet.” His front yard features a small berm to blunt the wake caused by cars as they drive along the often-flooded road.

The Galiotos brothers declined to comment. Their lawyer, Robert McFarland, said the decision had more to do with political pressure from residents wanting their representatives to take flood risk more seriously. He noted that a similar development right next to the Galiotos property was approved just before Matthew struck.

“I think Hurricane Matthew crystallized for some folks the issue of flooding and sea level rise, and that no further development of any kind should take place in this area,” Mr. McFarland said. His clients, he added, “were made an example of.”

Other developers noticed, as did residents. After Matthew, a group of developers that included the local state senator, Bill DeSteph, sought permission to build more than 100 homes next to Ashville Park. Nearby residents objected, saying that turning more wetlands into homes would worsen their flood problem.

Read More At The New York Times

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