COVID-19 Zoning Reforms Are Here to Stay

06.08.2022
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Issues & Policies

The following article was first posted on the Carmody Torrance Sandak & Hennessey LLP website and is reposted here with permission.


It has been two years since the COVID-19 pandemic altered the conventional ways of conducting business. 

During the pandemic, Gov. Ned Lamont passed multiple emergency orders that allowed businesses and people to continue operating in a modified capacity. 

The response to some of these initiatives was so positive that as we move into a post-pandemic world, the Connecticut General Assembly has codified them. 

Three major acts are described below.

Land Use Approvals Savings Clause

On June 10, 2021, the governor signed Public Act 21-34, which extends the term of zoning approvals that were effective March 10, 2020, the start of the COVID-19 state of emergency. 

Site plan approvals that were valid as of March 10, 2020, have been automatically extended for 14 years, with the opportunity to seek an additional five years worth of extensions to complete all or part of the work. 

Special permit approvals that were valid as of March 10, 2020, have automatically been extended for 19 years. 

Outdoor Dining

On March 24, 2022, Connecticut codified Public Act 22-1, An Act Concerning the Provision of Outdoor Food and Beverage Services and Outdoor Displays of Goods.

This act expedites the process for a food establishment to obtain an outdoor dining permit by reducing the number of required documents for filing and providing relief from parking and liquor permitting requirements until April 30, 2023. 

Effective May 1, 2023, a municipality’s zoning commission shall allow a local food establishment to operate outdoor food and beverage service as an as-of-right, accessory use, subject only to administrative site plan review. 

Municipal Public Meetings

On April 28, 2022, remote municipal board and committee meetings became a permanent option per An Act Concerning Remote Meetings Under the Freedom of Information Act.

Any public agency has the option to conduct any meeting, other than an executive session or special meeting, either solely by electronic equipment or by electronic equipment in conjunction with an in-person meeting. 

Notice that a meeting will be held either fully or partially by electronic equipment must be posted at least 48 hours before the meeting, and the agenda must be posted at least 24 hours before the meeting. 

The act also addresses making public comments and what to do in case of a technological failure. 


About the authors: William JHennessey Jr. is a partner at Carmody Torrance Sandak & Hennessey LLP. He focuses his practice on planning, zoning, and related land issues, as well as real estate transactions. Lisa Feinberg is a partner at Carmody Torrance Sandak & Hennessey LLP. She primarily practices land use law, and has assisted as legal counsel for significant development projects in Stamford. 

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