CHAPTER 444
COASTAL MANAGEMENT

Table of Contents

Sec. 22a-94. Coastal area; coastal boundary. Commissioner to prepare maps.
Sec. 22a-109. Coastal site plans. Review.
Sec. 22a-112. Financial assistance. Grants to municipalities. Contracts or grant agreements concerning coastal management.

      Sec. 22a-94. Coastal area; coastal boundary. Commissioner to prepare maps. (a) The Connecticut coastal area shall include the land and water within the area delineated by the following: The westerly, southerly and easterly limits of the state's jurisdiction in Long Island Sound; the towns of Greenwich, Stamford, Darien, Norwalk, Westport, Fairfield, Bridgeport, Stratford, Shelton, Milford, Orange, West Haven, New Haven, Hamden, North Haven, East Haven, Branford, Guilford, Madison, Clinton, Westbrook, Deep River, Chester, Essex, Old Saybrook, Lyme, Old Lyme, East Lyme, Waterford, New London, Montville, Norwich, Preston, Ledyard, Groton and Stonington.

      (b) Within the coastal area, there shall be a coastal boundary which shall be a continuous line delineated on the landward side by the interior contour elevation of the one hundred year frequency coastal flood zone, as defined and determined by the National Flood Insurance Act, as amended (USC 42 Section 4101, P.L. 93-234), or a one thousand foot linear setback measured from the mean high water mark in coastal waters, or a one thousand foot linear setback measured from the inland boundary of tidal wetlands mapped under section 22a-20, whichever is farthest inland; and shall be delineated on the seaward side by the seaward extent of the jurisdiction of the state.

      (c) The coastal boundary as defined in subsection (b) of this section shall be shown on maps or photographs prepared by the commissioner which supplement flood hazard rate maps prepared by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development under the National Flood Insurance Act. Such maps shall be sufficiently precise to demonstrate whether the holdings of a property owner, or portions thereof, lie within the coastal boundary. Copies of such maps or photographs shall be filed with the commissioner and with the clerk of each coastal municipality.

      (d) The maps described in subsection (c) of this section shall be promulgated not later than July 1, 1980. Prior to final adoption of any map, the commissioner shall hold a public hearing in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54 within the applicable coastal town. The commissioner may use interim maps prepared on United States Geological Survey Topographic base at a scale of one to twenty-four thousand or their metric equivalent. In preparing such interim maps, the commissioner may use any man-made structure, natural feature, property line, preliminary flood hazard boundary maps as prepared by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, or a combination thereof which most closely approximates the landward side of the boundary. Further, the commissioner may use city or town property tax maps or aerial photographs, state tidal wetlands photographs, or similar maps of property delineation as they are available.

      (e) The commissioner may, from time to time, amend such maps described in subsection (c) of this section. Prior to the adoption of an amendment to any map, the commissioner shall hold a public hearing in the affected municipality in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54. The commissioner shall consider for amendment changes in the boundary petitioned by the coastal municipality, by any person owning real property within the boundary, or by twenty-five residents of such municipality. The commissioner shall approve, deny or modify such petition within sixty days of receipt and shall state, in writing, the reasons for his action. All amendments to the boundary shall be consistent with subsection (b) of this section.

      (f) A municipal coastal boundary may be adopted by the municipal planning commission of each coastal municipality in accordance with the notice, hearing and other procedural requirements of section 8-24. Such boundary may be delineated by roads, property lines or other identifiable natural or man-made features, provided such boundary shall approximate and in no event diminish the area within the coastal boundary as defined in subsection (b) of this section and as mapped under subsection (d) of this section. Such boundary shall be sufficiently precise to demonstrate whether the holdings of a property owner, or portions thereof, lie within the boundary. Upon adoption, such boundary shall be submitted to the commissioner for mapping in accordance with subsection (c) of this section. The municipal planning commission may, at its own discretion or upon request of a property owner, amend the coastal boundary in accordance with the procedures and criteria of this subsection.

      (g) All property lying within the coastal boundary shall be subject to the regulatory, development and planning requirements of this chapter.

      (P.A. 78-152, S. 5, 11; P.A. 79-535, S. 4, 25; P.A. 05-288, S. 95.)

      History: P.A. 78-152 effective July 1, 1979; P.A. 79-535 substituted "towns" for "municipalities", clarified coastal boundary by including reference to 1,000 foot linear setback, substituting "high water mark" for "high tide" and deleting description of specific types of environment to be included, i.e. coastal waters, submerged lands, intertidal zones, etc. in Subsec. (b), changed deadline for maps in Subsec. (d) from "within twenty-four months of July 1, 1979", to "July 1, 1980", added provisions in Subsec. (e) re petitions to change boundaries, and added Subsecs. (f) and (g) re adoption of boundaries and re applicability of chapter to property within the established coastal boundary; P.A. 05-288 made technical changes in Subsecs. (e) and (f), effective July 13, 2005.

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      Sec. 22a-109. Coastal site plans. Review. (a) A coastal site plan shall be filed with the municipal zoning commission to aid in determining the conformity of a proposed building, use, structure or shoreline flood and erosion control structure, as defined in subsection (c) of this section, fully or partially within the coastal boundary, with the specific provisions of the zoning regulations of the municipality and the provisions of sections 22a-105 and 22a-106, and in the case of shoreline flood and erosion control structures, the provisions of sections 22a-359 to 22a-363, inclusive, and any regulations adopted thereunder. A coastal site plan required under this section may be modified or denied if it fails to comply with the requirements already set forth in the zoning regulations of the municipality and, in addition, the coastal site plan may be modified, conditioned or denied in accordance with the procedures and criteria listed in sections 22a-105 and 22a-106. A coastal site plan for a shoreline flood and erosion control structure may be modified, conditioned or denied if it fails to comply with the requirements, standards and criteria of sections 22a-359 to 22a-363, inclusive, and any regulations adopted thereunder. Review of a coastal site plan under the requirements of this section shall supersede any review required by the municipality under subsection (g) of section 8-3 and shall be in addition to any applicable zoning regulations of any special district exercising zoning authority under special act. The provisions of this section shall not be construed to limit the authority of the Commissioner of Environmental Protection under sections 22a-359 to 22a-363, inclusive.

      (b) The zoning commission may by regulation exempt any or all of the following uses from the coastal site plan review requirements of this chapter: (1) Minor additions to or modifications of existing buildings or detached accessory buildings, such as garages and utility sheds; (2) construction of new or modification of existing structures incidental to the enjoyment and maintenance of residential property including but not limited to walks, terraces, driveways, swimming pools, tennis courts, docks and detached accessory buildings; (3) construction of new or modification of existing on-premise structures including fences, walls, pedestrian walks and terraces, underground utility connections, essential electric, gas, telephone, water and sewer service lines, signs and such other minor structures as will not substantially alter the natural character of coastal resources or restrict access along the public beach; (4) construction of an individual single-family residential structure except when such structure is located on an island not connected to the mainland by an existing road bridge or causeway or except when such structure is in or within one hundred feet of the following coastal resource areas: Tidal wetlands, coastal bluffs and escarpments and beaches and dunes; (5) activities conducted for the specific purpose of conserving or preserving soil, vegetation, water, fish, shellfish, wildlife and other coastal land and water resources; (6) interior modifications to buildings, and (7) minor changes in use of a building, structure or property except those changes occurring on property adjacent to or abutting coastal waters. Gardening, grazing and the harvesting of crops shall be exempt from the requirements of this chapter. Notwithstanding the provisions of this subsection, shoreline flood and erosion control structures as defined in subsection (c) of this section shall not be exempt from the requirements of this chapter.

      (c) For the purposes of this section, "shoreline flood and erosion control structure" means any structure the purpose or effect of which is to control flooding or erosion from tidal, coastal or navigable waters and includes breakwaters, bulkheads, groins, jetties, revetments, riprap, seawalls and the placement of concrete, rocks or other significant barriers to the flow of flood waters or the movement of sediments along the shoreline. The term shall not include any addition, reconstruction, change or adjustment to any walled and roofed building which is necessary for such building to comply with the requirements of the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 44, Part 50, and any municipal regulation adopted thereunder.

      (d) A copy of each coastal site plan submitted for any shoreline flood and erosion control structure shall be referred to the Commissioner of Environmental Protection within fifteen days of its receipt by the zoning commission. The day of receipt shall be determined in accordance with subsection (c) of section 8-7d. The commissioner may comment on and make recommendations on such plans. Such comments and recommendations shall be submitted to the zoning commission within thirty-five days of the date of receipt of the coastal site plan by the commissioner and shall be considered by the zoning commission before final action on the plan. If the commissioner fails to comment on a plan within the thirty-five-day period or any extension granted by the zoning commission, the zoning commission may take final action on such plan. Failure to comment by the commissioner shall not be construed to be approval or disapproval.

      (e) The zoning commission may, at its discretion, hold a hearing on a coastal site plan required by this section. The commission shall hold a hearing on a coastal site plan for a shoreline flood and erosion control structure upon the request of the Commissioner of Environmental Protection.

      (f) The zoning commission shall set forth the reasons for any decision to deny, modify or condition a coastal site plan submitted under this section. A copy of any decision shall be sent by certified mail to the person who submitted such plan within fifteen days after such decision is rendered. A copy of any decision on a coastal site plan for a shoreline flood and erosion control structure shall be sent to the Commissioner of Environmental Protection within fifteen days after such decision is rendered. The commission shall publish notice of the approval or denial of a coastal site plan, in a newspaper having a general circulation in the municipality, not more than fifteen days after such decision is rendered.

      (g) The coastal site plan review required under this section shall be subject to the same statutory requirements as subsections (a) and (b) of section 8-7d for the purposes of determining the time limitations on the zoning commission in reaching a final decision.

      (h) In addition to the requirements of subsection (f) of section 8-3, no building permit or certificate of occupancy shall be issued for a building, use or structure subject to the zoning regulations of a municipality and located fully or partially within the coastal boundary, or for any shoreline flood and erosion control structure as defined in subsection (c) of this section, and located fully or partially within the coastal boundary, without certification in writing by the official charged with enforcement of such regulations that such building, use, structure or shoreline flood and erosion control structure has been reviewed and approved in accordance with the requirements of this chapter or is a use exempt from such review under regulations adopted by the zoning commission in accordance with this section.

      (i) A municipality by vote of its legislative body may delegate its responsibility for coastal site plan review under this section to a special district exercising zoning authority under special act for the area within both the coastal boundary and limits of the special district, subject to acceptance by the special district of such responsibility following the procedures listed in section 7-327. The municipality may revoke the delegation of such responsibilities and the special district may also revoke acceptance of such responsibility under this subsection at any time. Notwithstanding the provisions of this subsection, the town of Groton shall delegate authority for coastal site plan review to the Noank fire district.

      (j) A municipal zoning commission reviewing, in accordance with this section, a coastal site plan for a building use, structure, or shoreline flood and erosion control structure occurring within the limits of a special district exercising zoning authority under special act shall provide a copy of the coastal site plan to the chief elected official of such district and shall provide an adequate opportunity for comment by such official prior to making a final decision on the coastal site plan. A special district delegated the responsibility for coastal site plan reviews in accordance with subsection (i) of this section shall provide a copy of any coastal site plan submitted for its review to the municipal zoning commission of the town in which the project is to occur and shall provide an adequate opportunity for comment by the zoning commission prior to making a final decision on the coastal site plan.

      (P.A. 79-535, S. 15, 25; P.A. 82-250, S. 4, 6; P.A. 83-525, S. 4, 5; P.A. 87-495, S. 1; P.A. 05-288, S. 96.)

      History: P.A. 82-250 amended Subsec. (b) to authorize zoning commissions to exempt from coastal site plan review interior modifications to buildings and minor use changes in a building structure or property and to make technical corrections; P.A. 83-525 amended Subsec. (b) by limiting a zoning commission's power to exempt construction of a single-family residential structure to those structures not located on an island connected to the mainland by an existing road, bridge or causeway and amended Subsec. (d) by requiring the commission to publish notice of the approval of a coastal site plan; P.A. 87-495 amended Subsec. (a) by applying provisions to shoreline flood and erosion control structures, added new Subsec. (c) defining shoreline flood and erosion control structures and new Subsec. (d) regarding review of shoreline flood and erosion control structures and relettered the section accordingly and amended new Subsecs. (f), (h) and (j) to apply to shoreline flood and erosion control structures; P.A. 05-288 made technical changes in Subsec. (a), effective July 13, 2005.

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      Sec. 22a-112. Financial assistance. Grants to municipalities. Contracts or grant agreements concerning coastal management. (a) In order to carry out the purposes of this chapter, the commissioner shall equitably allocate any funds received for the implementation of this chapter between coastal-related state programs, which may include coastal research projects, and municipal coastal programs.

      (b) Upon receipt by the commissioner of a written application from a coastal municipality, said commissioner shall make a grant to such municipality of not less than twenty-five hundred dollars to be used to carry out the responsibilities of such municipality under this chapter, provided, on or after July 1, 1980, funds shall be allocated to coastal municipalities in accordance with subsections (c) and (d) of this section.

      (c) The commissioner shall provide, within available appropriations, continuing financial assistance to coastal municipalities to carry out their responsibilities under this chapter. Municipalities may apply annually for financial assistance in carrying out their responsibilities for municipal coastal site plan reviews under sections 22a-105 to 22a-109, inclusive, and for the purpose of preparing and implementing municipal coastal programs under sections 22a-101 to 22a-104, inclusive. The commissioner shall, by regulations adopted in accordance with chapter 54, establish reasonable application requirements consistent with federal application requirements. In reviewing municipal applications for financial assistance the commissioner shall consider: (1) The area, length of shorefront, population and development pressures within the municipality's coastal boundary, (2) the nature of the municipality's coastal resources and coastal-related problems, (3) the demonstrated capacity and commitment of the municipality to carrying out the purposes of this chapter, (4) the number of coastal site plan reviews conducted by the municipality, (5) the availability of funds, and (6) the state plan for conservation and development adopted pursuant to part I of chapter 297.

      (d) Not less than thirty per cent of any funds received annually by the state under Section 306 of the federal Coastal Zone Management Act shall be provided annually to coastal municipalities for municipal coastal site plan reviews under sections 22a-105 to 22a-109, inclusive. Up to an additional twenty per cent of any funds received annually by the state under Section 306 of the federal Coastal Zone Management Act shall as a first priority be provided annually to assist coastal municipalities which have chosen to prepare and implement a municipal coastal program under sections 22a-101 to 22a-104, inclusive, provided, if in any one year the total amount of all grants to municipalities which have agreed to adopt municipal coastal programs is less than twenty per cent of such federal funds received in that year, the difference shall be allocated for the purposes of this chapter in accordance with subsection (a) of this section.

      (e) Any funds appropriated to the Department of Environmental Protection for the purposes of subsection (b) of this section and for the purpose of providing matching funds to implement a coastal management program pursuant to this chapter which are not used for such purposes shall be allocated to coastal municipalities in accordance with subsection (c) of this section.

      (f) The legislative body of a municipality or, in the case of a municipality for which the legislative body is a town meeting or a representative town meeting, the board of selectmen may, by majority vote, authorize the chief executive officer to enter into contracts or grant agreements concerning coastal management with the commissioner. Such contracts or agreements include but are not limited to those for funding of coastal site plan review, municipal coastal program and any other demonstration or coastal research project funded in accordance with this section.

      (P.A. 79-535, S. 6, 24, 25; P.A. 82-250, S. 5, 6; P.A. 86-336, S. 2, 19; P.A. 05-288, S. 97, 98.)

      History: P.A. 82-250 added Subsec. (f) authorizing the legislative body or board of selectmen of a coastal community to empower the chief executive officer of a coastal community to enter into contract or grant agreements with the commissioner for funding coastal site plan review, municipal coastal programs and coastal research projects; P.A. 86-336 amended Subsec. (c) to limit provision of continuing financial assistance to coastal municipalities to "within available appropriations"; P.A. 05-288 made technical changes in Subsecs. (b) and (d), effective July 13, 2005.

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