On June 10, 2021, the Governor signed Public Act 21-29, titled “An Act Concerning Reorganization of the Zoning Enabling Act and the Promotion of Municipal Compliance.” While considered a more scaled back version of sweeping zoning reform proposed earlier this year, the legislation does make numerous and significant changes to Connecticut’s municipal zoning requirements. It also sets new certification and training requirements for Zoning Enforcement Officers and members of certain land use boards. This legislation can be summarized as follows:

  • General reorganization of General Statutes § 8-2 with some minor, technical, and conforming changes.
  • Zoning regulations adopted pursuant to General Statutes § 8-2 must now be designed to, in part:
    • Protect the state’s historic, tribal, cultural and environmental resources;
    •  Consider the impact of permitted land uses on contiguous municipalities and on the planning region (as defined in § 4-124i) in which such municipality is located;
    • Address significant disparities in housing needs and access to educational, occupational and other opportunities;
    • Promote efficient review of proposals and applications;
    • Affirmatively further the purposes of the federal Fair Housing Act, 42 USC 3601 et seq.;
    • Give reasonable consideration to physical site characteristics of the district (notably eliminating the requirement to consider the “character” of the district and “conserving the value of buildings”).
    • The requirement to prevent overcrowding and avoid undue concentration of population has been removed.
  • Zoning regulations adopted pursuant to General Statutes § 8-2 may now, in part:
    • Provide for floating zones, overlay zones and planned development districts;
    • Require estimates of vehicle miles traveled and vehicle trips generated in lieu of, or in addition to, level of service traffic calculations to assess (a) the anticipated traffic impact of proposed developments; and (b) potential mitigation strategies;
    • Expands the energy conservation tools and renewable energy types that a municipality can require or promote.
  • Zoning regulations adopted pursuant to General Statutes § 8-2 shall not:
    • Impose conditions and requirements on mobile manufactured homes that are substantially different from those imposed on other residential developments;
    • Prohibit the operation of a “cottage food operation” in any residential zone;
    • Establish for any dwelling unit a minimum floor area that is greater than the minimum floor area set forth in the applicable building, housing or other code;
    • Place a fixed numerical or percentage cap on the number of dwelling units that constitute multifamily housing over four units, middle housing or mixed-use development that may be permitted in the municipality;
    • Require more than one parking space for each studio or one-bedroom apartment, or more than two parking spaces for each dwelling unit with two or more bedrooms, unless the municipality opts-out pursuant to specific procedures set forth in the Public Act;
    • Be applied to deny any land use application on the basis of (a) a district’s character, unless such character is expressly articulated in such regulations by clear and explicit physical standards for site work and structures, or (b) the immutable characteristics, source of income or income level of any applicant or end user (other than age or disability whenever age-restricted or disability-restricted housing may be permitted).
  • Accessory Apartments: Provisions are adopted for as-of-right “Accessory Apartments,” as defined in the Public Act:
    • For municipalities with zoning regulations adopted pursuant to General Statutes § 8-2:
      • Such zoning regulations shall designate locations or zoning districts within a municipality in which Accessory Apartments are allowed, provided that at least one Accessory Apartment shall be allowed as of right on each lot that contains a single-family dwelling and no such Accessory Apartment shall be required to be an Affordable Accessory Apartment. Additional requirements are detailed for minimum size, location, parking, occupants and design of such Accessory Apartment, and procedures for approval thereof;
      • Outlines procedures for a municipality to opt-out of these new requirements;
      • If a municipality does not opt-out, and fails to update its zoning regulations to comply with these provisions by January 1, 2023, then any such noncompliant regulation shall become null and void.
    • Amends CGS § 8-30g (affordable housing appeals procedure) to exclude accessory apartments built or permitted after January 1, 2022, from the calculation of a municipality’s base housing stock;
    • Amends CGS § 7-245 (municipal sewerage systems) to specify that the addition of an accessory dwelling unit on a lot does not make a sewerage system a “community sewerage system.”
  • Outside Consultant Fee Schedules: Amends General Statutes § 8-1c to permits a municipality to require, by regulation, applicants for certain zoning approvals to pay the cost of reasonable fees associated with any necessary technical review performed by outside consultants for the benefit of the commission or board (such as stormwater or traffic), with exceptions for certain residential developments.
  • Annual Certification for Zoning Enforcement Officers: Modifies General Statutes § 8-3(e) to require any person appointed as a ZEO on or after January 1, 2023, to obtain certification from the Connecticut Association of Zoning Enforcement Officials and maintain such certification during the duration of employment as a zoning enforcement officer.
  • Biennial Training for Land Use Commission Members: Beginning January 1, 2023, requires each member of a municipal planning commission, zoning commission, combined planning and zoning commission, and zoning board of appeals, to complete at least four (4) hours of training biennially:
    • Such training shall include at least one hour concerning affordable and fair housing policies and may also consist of (1) process and procedural matters, including the conduct of effective meetings and public hearings under the Freedom of Information Act, (2) the interpretation of site plans, surveys, maps and architectural conventions, and (3) the impact of zoning on the environment, agriculture and historic resources.
    • For members serving as of January 1, 2023, the deadline to complete initial training is January 1, 2024;
    • The new section also includes (1) a deadline of January 1, 2022 for the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management shall establish guidelines for such training; and (2) a requirement for annual reporting to the municipality’s legislative body, beginning March 1, 2024, of each commission’s compliance with the training requirement.
  • Water Pollution Control Plan: allows WPCAs to add to the WPCP details concerning allocations of capacity to serve areas that are able to be developed for residential or mixed-use buildings containing four or more dwelling units.
  • Affordable Housing Plan Requirement: Each municipality shall prepare, amend, or adopt an affordable housing plan for the municipality no later than June 1, 2022, and at least once every five years thereafter. All municipalities must also post a copy on its website and submit a copy of such plan to the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management.
  • Establishes a Commission on Connecticut’s Development and Future: Establishes a commission within the Legislative Department that will evaluate policies related to land use, conservation, housing affordability and infrastructure, and details requirements of such Commission.

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