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Planning Commissions By Timothy D. Bates. Powers of the Planning Commission A.Powers of the Planning Commission Source of planning commission jurisdiction.

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Presentation on theme: "Planning Commissions By Timothy D. Bates. Powers of the Planning Commission A.Powers of the Planning Commission Source of planning commission jurisdiction."— Presentation transcript:

1 Planning Commissions By Timothy D. Bates

2 Powers of the Planning Commission A.Powers of the Planning Commission Source of planning commission jurisdiction is either the General Statutes or the terms of specific municipal charters. Assignments vary between the visionary and the mundane, with little in between. Powers of zoning commissions are more broadly construed, and powers granted to zoning commissions under C.G.S. Section 8-1 are more extensive. About 50% of municipalities have combined planning and zoning commissions.

3 Specific Powers 1.Planning Commission must adopt a plan of conservation and development [master plan] under Section 8-2. There is an increasing need to consider the State Plan of Conservation and Development: See Public Act 10-138 regarding coordination of State, regional, and local plans after 2011 and possible loss of State funding if localities do not update their plans.

4 Specific Powers Continued 2.Planning Commission reviews municipal improvements under Section 8-24. Advisory and can be overruled by town meeting or 2/3 of legislative body. 3.The commission also reviews street layouts and building lines under Section 8-29. Also levies assessments on same. 4.Some planning commissions may also approve special permits under Section 8-26e and site plans under Section 8- 3(g).

5 Specific Powers Continued 5.If the commissions are separate, the planning commission reviews zone change referrals under Section 8-3a(b). Can be overruled by 2/3 vote of the zoning commission. 6.Major function of planning commissions is to review subdivisions pursuant to Sections 8-25 and 8-26.

6 Regulation of Subdivisions A.Adoption of Regulations 1. The subject matter of regulations is limited by the explicit authority of Section 8-25. 2. The Commission cannot require preliminary applications. 3. The Commission cannot impose fees not specifically allowed. 4. The Commission cannot define subdivisions differently from statutes.

7 Regulation of Subdivisions Continued 5. Objectives of subdivisions [Think of a lot in an improved subdivision like a car with a warranty]: a. Proper provision of water b. Drainage, sewerage, flood control c. Street design and layout d. Road width, grade and improvements e. Open space, parks and playgrounds f. Sedimentation and erosion control g. Public utilities and services h. Bonding for public improvements i. Solar energy orientation

8 Regulation of Subdivisions Continued 6. Generally, subdivision regulations require: a. An application fee/town ordinance may also require review fee b. Subdivision application c. A topographical map d. Soil suitability report when septic systems are required. e. Engineering drawings for proposed roads and public improvements. f. Map showing inland wetlands boundaries.

9 Regulation of Subdivisions Continued B.Standards in Subdivision Regulations 1. Regulations should be specific and not lend themselves to arbitrary or varying determinations. 2. Appearance and aesthetic concerns are not explicitly included in Section 8- 25. However, see Smith v. Zoning Board of Appeals, 227 Conn. 71. (Historic conditions) 3. Should they be? Novi v. City of Pacifica, 215 Cal. Rptr. 439.

10 Regulation of Subdivisions Continued C.Review of subdivision applications 1. If application conforms, it must be approved. 2. If it does not, it must be denied. 3. Waivers available if allowed by regulation, but not variances. 4. Subdivision regulations cannot conflict with, waive, or vary zoning regulations. However, see cluster development density bonuses, often in the form of special zoning regulations or special permits. C.G.S. Section 8-25(c) 5. Violations of dimensional zoning regulations can be the basis for denial of a subdivision plan. However, current use of property – even under litigation – cannot be.

11 Regulation of Subdivisions Continued D.Procedure for Approval of Subdivision Applications 1. Time line: 65-35-65, with 65 days of extensions. Public hearings are required for re- subdivisions, but discretionary for subdivisions. 2. What is an application? Watch out for incomplete application and constructive approval.

12 Regulation of Subdivisions Continued E.Special Problems in Subdivision Applications 1. Preliminary applications: Avoid predetermination. 2. Referrals a. Regional planning agencies where two towns are involved. b. To adjoining municipality, if within 500 feet, significant traffic, drainage, or septic c. Wetland review: can delay decision d. CAM: requirement to read into record e. Sanitarian or Health Director f. New statute requires 60-day prior notice to holder of land trust restrictions if property is part of subdivision. C.G.S. Section 47-42d, nor can town take action to eliminate access to a proposed subdivision in a different town.

13 Regulation of Subdivisions Continued F. Determining When Subdivision Approval is Required 1. Decision of planning commission whether it is or not. 2. Read definition closely: division of property into 3 or more lots subsequent to adoption of subdivision regulations for purpose whether indirect or future of sale or building development, not including municipal construction or agricultural purposes. Section 8-18 3. The first cut: Title search 4. Lot line adjustments and mergers do not equal divisions 5. Combination of parcels does not constitute a subdivision 6. Definition of re-subdivision: Any change in approved subdivision which (a) affects street layout, (b) affects areas reserved for public use or (c) diminishes the size of the lot and creates an additional building lot, if any lot has been previously conveyed. Section 8-18.

14 Regulation of Subdivisions Continued G.Difficulties Present Themselves When Subdivisions Cross Town Boundaries 1. Regulations may provide that when public services cannot be provided, the application may be denied. School buses. Fire Trucks. But regulations cannot require direct access to approving town. Andrews v. Planning and Zoning Commission of Town of Wallingford, 97 Conn. 316 (2006). Town cannot abandon road to prevent access for a subdivision in a neighboring town. 2. Be aware of different zoning requirements in each of the two towns and split lot problems that may result.

15 Regulation of Subdivisions Continued H. Conditions. 1. No statutory authority, although customary. 2. Should be based on commissions specific regulations 3. Watch out for Carpenter problems – must be subject to the authority and control of the commission I.Expiration of subdivision permits 1. 5-year expiration if construction is not completed or 10 years if extension granted. However, subdivisions approved between July 1, 2006, and July 1, 2009, have a 6-year life or 11 years, if extended. Public Act 09-181. 2. After expiration, a note should be filed on the land records and placed on the subdivision plan. Should there also be a hearing? Abandonment can be advantageous for owners property taxes. 3. Poirier: What zoning regulations control a lot? See Section 8-26a stating vacant lots are governed by zoning regulations in effect at the time of approval. Improved lots are subject to subsequently enacted zoning regulations.

16 Regulation of Subdivisions Continued J.Open Space: 1. Section 8-25 allows regulations to require set aside of open space. 2. Specific standards should be included in the regulations. 3. Such standards are constitutional: Aunt Hack Ridge Estates, Inc. v. Planning Commission. Regulations cannot require dedication to a private group, but can offer it as an alternative. 4. Open space fund can be established for donations in lieu of deducation. K. Pending or Approved Subdivisions are Protected from Changes in Zoning and Planning Regulations

17 L. The Planning Commission Cannot in Subdivision Regulations Enlarge Lot Size, Frontage, Shape, etc., Over and Above Requirements of Zoning Regulations. M. Security for Public Improvements: If Required Public Improvement, Such as Roads, Sidewalks, Drainage, etc., is not Completed, it May be Bonded. Regulation of Subdivisions Continued

18 O. Inadequate Security: 1. Town must allocate available security to serve lots already sold. 2. However, when 6 lots all fronted on a public street, Pope v. Killingworth Planning and Zoning Commission mandated approval. Also see Pansy Road, holding commission cannot deny subdivision based on aggravation of existing traffic and parking concerns on public road.

19 Regulation of Subdivisions Continued P. Inadequate Security Continued 3. Courts have been reluctant to uphold off-site improvements, including sidewalks and accepted roads on which the lots front. See Buttermilk Farm LLC v. Planning and Zoning Commission of Town of Plymouth, 292 Conn. 317 (2009). 4. Property owner has a legal right to use old road bed. Luf v. Southbury.

20 Regulation of Subdivisions Continued Q. Recording Decision: Section 8-25 Requires Recording of Plan Within 90 Days of Approval or the Plan is Null and Void. As Amended by P.A. 01-52, Subsection (a) Requires the Commission to Return the Approved Subdivision Plan Not More Than 30 Days After Final Approval. (Watch out for this.)

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