Municipal Land Use Approvals Extended 

October 21, 2021 

By: Zachary A. Kohl 

It has been a busy year for land use legislation in Connecticut. In addition to the extensive changes to the zoning code under Public Act 21-29 (see discussion herehere, and here), the General Assembly passed Public Acts 21-34 and 21-163, which provide additional time for completing projects under approved land use applications.  

  1. Concurrent Land Use Deadlines 

Under existing law, inland wetland approvals are valid for the same period as the related planning and zoning approvals but not more than 10 years, whichever is earlier. Legislation passed this year and effective July 1, 2021, delays the effective date for inland wetland approvals until the time that necessary planning, zoning, incentive housing or affordable housing approvals take effect for the same project. This aligns the deadlines to complete a project under these different approvals.  

  1. Extensions of Land Use Deadlines 

Governor Lamont suspended certain land use deadlines during the COVID-19 pandemic under Executive Order 7JJ. However, the executive order did not extend the time to complete projects after the emergency declaration is lifted or that portion of Executive Order 7JJ pertaining to such deadlines is rescinded. In the most recent legislative session, the General Assembly enacted specific, extended deadlines for land use approvals obtained prior to July 1, 2021. Accordingly, there is no change in the land use deadlines for projects approved after July 1, 2021. 

a. Extension of Land Use Approvals Granted Prior to July 1, 2011

i. Site Plan and Subdivision Approvals of Less Than 400 Units and Inland Wetland Approvals

The legislature extended to 14 years the length of site plan and subdivision approvals, other than those with 400 or more dwelling units, and inland wetland approvals granted prior to July 1, 2011. These approvals also must not have expired prior to July 1, 2021. Any extensions granted cannot exceed 19 years. 

For such site plan and subdivision approvals, local land use bodies may grant one or more extensions to complete all or part of work. 

Such inland wetland approvals extensions shall be renewed upon request of permit holder unless the agency finds that there has been a substantial change in circumstances that requires a new permit application or an enforcement action has been undertaken regarding the regulated activity for which the permit was issued. These deadlines do not apply to projects with inland wetland approvals under section 1 of this blog post. 

Each of these deadlines also applies to approvals granted under Special Acts. 

ii. Special Permit, Special Exception, and Subdivisions of More than 400 Dwelling Units 

Special permits and special exceptions granted prior to July 1, 2011, are extended to 19 years if not expired prior to July 1, 2021. An agency may grant one or more extensions to complete all or part of the work in connection with the special permit or exception. 

Subdivisions of more than 400 dwelling units approved prior to July 1, 2011, that had not expired prior to July 1, 2021, are extended to 19 years. The commission’s endorsement of approval of the plan shall state the date on which the 19-year period expires. 

Each of these deadlines also applies to approvals granted under Special Acts. 

b. Extension of Land Use Approvals Granted on or after to July 1, 2011 

The General Assembly similarly extended the deadlines for land use approvals granted on or after July 1, 2011, but before July 1, 2021, that had not expired prior to March 1, 2020. The length of the deadlines and possibility of extension are the same as described previously in section 2 of this blog post. These deadlines also apply to approvals granted under Special Acts.

If you have any questions about these changes, or your own land use project, please contact the Kohl Law Firm, PLLC at (860) 865-0101. 

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