Substitute House Bill No. 5177

Public Act No. 00-145

An Act Concerning Village Districts.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Section 8-2j of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) The zoning commission of each municipality may establish village districts as part of the zoning regulations adopted under section 8-2 or under any special act. Such districts shall be located in areas of distinctive character, landscape or historic value that are specifically identified in the plan of conservation and development of the municipality.

(b) The regulations establishing village districts shall protect the distinctive character, landscape and historic structures [of such areas] within such districts and may regulate, on and after the effective date of such regulations, [(1) alterations and improvements in such areas and (2)] new construction, substantial reconstruction and rehabilitation of properties within [the district] such districts and in view [of] from public roadways, including, but not limited to, [(A)] (1) the design and placement of buildings, [(B)] (2) the maintenance of public views, [(C)] (3) the design, paving materials and placement of public roadways, and [(D)] (4) other elements that the commission deems appropriate to maintain and protect the character of the village district. In adopting the regulations, the commission shall consider the design, relationship and compatibility of structures, [planting] plantings, signs, roadways, street hardware and other objects in public view. [Such] The regulations shall establish criteria from which a property owner and the commission may make a reasonable determination of what is permitted within such district. The regulations shall encourage the conversion, conservation and preservation of existing buildings and [sights] sites in a manner that maintains the historic [, natural and community] or distinctive character of the district. The regulations concerning the exterior of structures or sites shall be consistent with: (A) [the] The "Connecticut Historical Commission - The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings", revised through 1990, as amended; or (B) the distinctive characteristics of the district identified in the municipal plan of conservation and development. The regulations shall provide (i) that proposed buildings or modifications to existing buildings be harmoniously related to their surroundings, [to] and the terrain in the district and to the use, scale and architecture of existing buildings in the [vicinity] district that have a functional or visual relationship to a proposed building or modification, (ii) that all spaces, [and] structures and related site improvements visible [to the public] from public roadways be designed to [add to the visual amenities] be compatible with the elements of the area [consistent with those] of the village district in and around the proposed building or modification, (iii) that the color, size, height, location, proportion of openings, roof treatments, building materials and landscaping of commercial or residential property and any proposed signs and lighting be evaluated for compatibility with the local architectural motif and the maintenance of views, historic buildings, monuments and landscaping, and (iv) that the removal or disruption of historic traditional or significant structures or architectural elements shall be minimized.

[(b)] (c) All development in the village district shall be designed to achieve the following compatibility objectives: [with other uses within the immediate neighborhood of the proposed development: (1) The arrangement and orientation of any proposed building or site improvement shall be similar in the immediate neighborhood; (2) the] (1) The building and layout of buildings and [parking lots] included site improvements shall reinforce existing buildings and streetscape patterns and the placement of buildings and [parking lots] included site improvements shall assure there is no adverse impact on the [immediate neighborhood] district; [(3)] (2) proposed streets shall be connected to the existing [neighborhood] district road network, wherever possible; [(4)] (3) open spaces [of] within the proposed development shall reinforce open space patterns of the [immediate neighborhood] district, in form and siting; [(5)] (4) locally significant features of the site such as distinctive buildings or [vistas] sight lines of vistas from within the district, shall be integrated into the site design; [(6)] (5) the landscape design shall complement the [neighborhood's] district's landscape patterns; [and reinforce functional qualities; (7)] (6) the exterior signs, site lighting and accessory structures shall support a uniform architectural theme if such a theme exists and [present a harmonious relationship with the surrounding neighborhood] be compatible with their surroundings; and [(8)] (7) the scale, proportions, massing and detailing of [the] any proposed building shall be in proportion to the scale, proportion, massing and detailing in the [neighborhood] district.

[(c)] (d) All applications for new construction and substantial reconstruction within the district and in view from public roadways shall be subject to review and recommendation by an architect or architectural firm, landscape architect, or planner who is a member of The American Institute of Certified Planners selected and contracted by the commission and designated as the village district [architectural] consultant for such application. Alternatively, the commission may designate as the village district consultant for such application an architectural review board whose members shall include at least one architect, landscape architect or planner who is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. The village district [architectural] consultant shall review an application and report to the commission within thirty-five days of receipt of the application. [The] Such report and recommendation [of the village district architectural consultant] shall be entered into the public hearing record and considered by the commission in making their decision. Failure of the village district [architectural] consultant to report within the specified time shall not alter or delay any other time limit imposed by the regulations.

(e) The commission may seek the recommendations of any town or regional agency or outside specialist with which it consults, including, but not limited to, the regional planning agency, the municipality's historical society, the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation and The University of Connecticut College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Any reports or recommendations from such agencies or organizations shall be entered into the public hearing record.

[(d)] (f) If the commission grants or denies an application, it shall state upon the record the reasons for its decision. If a commission denies an application, the reason for the denial shall cite the specific regulations under which the application was denied. Notice of the decision shall be published in a newspaper having a substantial circulation in the municipality. An approval shall become effective in accordance with subsection (b) of section 8-3c.

(g) No [decision] approval of a commission under this section shall be effective until a copy thereof, certified by the commission, containing the name of the owner of record, a description of the premises to which it relates and specifying the reasons for its decision, is recorded in the land records of the town in which such premises are located. The town clerk shall index the same in the grantor's index under the name of the then record owner and the record owner shall pay for such recording.

[(e) As used in this section "neighborhood" means the existing buildings and land uses adjacent to and extending from a proposed development to a definable boundary such as a primary collector or arterial boundary, a significant change in character or land use or a major natural feature.]

Sec. 2. Subsection (a) of section 8-3 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) Such zoning commission shall provide for the manner in which regulations under section 8-2 or 8-2j, as amended by this act, and the boundaries of zoning districts shall be respectively established or changed. No such regulation or boundary shall become effective or be established or changed until after a public hearing in relation thereto, held by a majority of the members of the zoning commission or a committee thereof appointed for that purpose consisting of at least five members, at which parties in interest and citizens shall have an opportunity to be heard. Notice of the time and place of such hearing shall be published in the form of a legal advertisement appearing in a newspaper having a substantial circulation in such municipality at least twice at intervals of not less than two days, the first not more than fifteen days nor less than ten days, and the last not less than two days, before such hearing, and a copy of such proposed regulation or boundary shall be filed in the office of the town, city or borough clerk, as the case may be, in such municipality, but, in the case of a district, in the offices of both the district clerk and the town clerk of the town in which such district is located, for public inspection at least ten days before such hearing, and may be published in full in such paper. In addition to such notice, such zoning commission may, by regulation, provide for notice by mail to persons who are owners of land which is included in or adjacent to the land which is the subject of the hearing. The commission may require a filing fee to be deposited with the commission to defray the cost of publication of the notice required for a hearing.

Approved May 26, 2000