Citizens Guide - General Proceedures
Submittal of Applications
Applications to the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission (IWWC) are submitted to the Planning Department. When an application involves activity regulated by the Flood Plain Management Ordinance, a floodplain development permit application must be submitted to the Engineering Department prior to any application to the IWWC.
Applications must be submitted on forms obtained from the Planning Department for the respective type of application being submitted; they must be accompanied by the appropriate fee(s) as well as any supporting plans, materials, and other information required by the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Regulations; and they must be signed by the applicant and the owner of the property, where applicable. Homeowners can take advantage of a short-form application when proposed residential activity is outside of a wetland or watercourse. IWWC applications are also available online on the Planning Department’s website.
The Planning Department will review each application to determine whether the application is substantially complete and will not schedule any application for receipt or action by the IWWC that does not contain sufficient information for their review. An application shall not be considered complete by the IWWC until all of the information required by the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Regulations has been received by the IWWC at a scheduled meeting. An incomplete application, including an application without the required fee, may be received by the IWWC and denied for lack of information or completeness.
To aid in determining clear ownership and any potential conflicts of interest with commissioners, any person or entity making an application must disclose all property owners, whether they be an individual, principal officer(s) of a corporation or limited liability corporation, general partner(s) of a partnership or limited liability partnership, or equitable owner(s) or beneficiary(ies) of property held in trust, which may be attached to the application if necessary.
When a floodplain development permit is required to permit a proposed development, the IWWC may not approve any applications without an approved floodplain development permit.
The Town of Windsor employs a comprehensive approach to the development review process, utilizing an interdisciplinary team of Windsor town officials called the Staff Development Team. The Staff Development Team’s primary responsibility is to comprehensively review all applications pending before the Town Planning and Zoning Commission (TPZC) and the IWWC, providing information and advice to applicants as well as these commissions. The team consists of a core group of officials representing the Planning Department, Building Department, Economic and Community Development Department, Engineering Department, Fire Marshal's Office, Health Department, and Town Manager's Office; but may also include the Police Department, Public Works Department and Board of Education as needed.
The Staff Development Team meets every Tuesday morning between 9:00am and Noon, with appointments generally lasting 15 to 30 minutes. Team members review application materials prior to the meeting and provide verbal and written feedback to applicants. When necessary, applicants will modify their applications to address identified regulatory deficiencies and other staff suggestions prior to review by the IWWC and/or TPZC. This approach allows applicants to meet with all town officials involved in their project in one quick meeting, avoiding the hassle of tracking down each official or coordinating meeting times between busy officials. The Wetlands Agent sends written comments to the IWWC and they are also available for public inspection in the application files prior to IWWC meetings along with all other application materials.
The Staff Development Team also meets informally with prospective applicants to help them better understand the regulatory environment and provide insight gained through decades of combined experience. This free service is strongly recommended to prospective applicants to help them develop better applications the first time around, avoiding costly changes and delays due to missing information or lack of knowledge of established policies and procedures. At times, a prospective applicant may ask that team members keep informal discussions confidential to avoid issues such as land speculation or revealing plans to their competitors. Team members will attempt to honor these requests but once an application is submitted, staff can speak freely.
Professional Responsibilities for Plans and Design
A professional engineer, licensed in the State of Connecticut, shall perform all drainage design, except that in order to prevent unnecessary hardship in connection with small alterations or expansions, the Town Engineer may determine that professional drainage design is not required.
A licensed land surveyor shall survey all sites, except that in order to prevent unnecessary hardship in connection with small expansions or alterations, the Town Engineer and the Zoning Enforcement Officer (ZEO) in consultation with the Wetlands Agent may mutually agree that a site does not require surveying.
According to Connecticut General Statutes (CGS) Section 8-7d, the official date of receipt of an application to the IWWC is the day of the next regularly scheduled meeting immediately following the day of submission of the application to the Planning Department or 35 days after the day of submission, whichever is sooner. Upon receipt, the IWWC must schedule a public hearing, if applicable, within the prescribed times described in CGS Section 8-7d but is typically scheduled for the next meeting of the Commission.
On any application, the IWWC may seek the advice of other town officials, boards, or commissions to assist them in evaluating applications; retain a professional engineer, or other consultant to review, comment, and guide their deliberations on any application; and/or require that the applicant, to the extent authorized by the Town of Windsor Code of Ordinances: deposit funds with the IWWC to cover the costs of any consulting review fees; or reimburse the IWWC for the cost of such consulting review.
When a public hearing is required by the IWWC, the Planning Department publishes a legal notice of the public hearing in The Hartford Courant or other newspaper having a substantial circulation in Windsor. According to CGS Section 8-7d, the legal notice must be published at least twice at intervals of not less than two days, the first not more than 15 days, nor less than ten days, and the last not less than two days before the date of the public hearing. No public hearing can be opened on any application or appeal unless the legal notice has been properly published.
The Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Regulations also require applicants to mail legal notices to property owners within 100 feet of the subject site (abutters) not less than ten days prior to a public hearing. The Planning Department will provide the applicant with a cover letter, the legal notice, and an abbreviated Citizen’s Guide to be copied and mailed to the abutters. A list of abutters may be provided by the Planning Department or can be created online using the abutter’s list tool contained in the Assessor’s GIS.
The applicant is responsible for obtaining proof of mailing in the form of U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Certificates of Mailing and submitting them at or before the public hearing. Proof of mailing should include individual Certificate(s) of Mailing; a list of the property owners sent notices, or alternatively, a list of the property owners certified by the USPS that they received letters for mailing to every address on the list; and a copy of the material sent to the property owners. Notices sent by Certified Mail - Return Receipt Requested are neither required nor advisable, as the applicant is not responsible for receipt of notice by the abutter: only mailing the notice within the required time. No public hearing can be opened on any application or appeal unless the required notice has been mailed in accordance with these requirements.
Applications, Notifications and Referrals toother Town or State Agencies
Local Floodplain Management Administrator
Various statutes, regulations, and ordinances require notifications to other town agencies. When an application involves activity regulated by the Flood Plain Management Ordinance, the IWWC may not act on the application until it has received a report from the Town Engineer acting under her/his authority as the designated Local Floodplain Management Administrator and they shall consider any report from the Town Engineer in making their decisions.
Town Planning and Zoning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals
Similarly, when an application involves activity regulated by the IWWC, the Town Planning and Zoning Commission (TPZC) or Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) may not act on the application until it has received a report from the IWWC and considered their findings in making their decision. When amending the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Regulations, proposed amendments must be forwarded to the Commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) at least 35 days prior to a public hearing to adopt them.
Notice to Adjoining Municipalities
In accordance with CGS Section 8-7d(f), the IWWC must notify the clerk of an adjoining municipality of any application or appeal that involves property within 500 feet of the boundary of the adjoining municipality, a significant portion of the traffic to a completed project would use streets within the adjoining municipality to enter or exit the site, and/or a significant portion of the sewer or stormwater drainage from a completed project would flow through and significantly impact the stormwater drainage or sewer system within the adjoining municipality. Such notice will be made by the Planning Department by Certified Mail - Return Receipt Requested within seven days of the day of the submission of the application or appeal. No public hearing may be opened unless the adjoining municipality has received this required notice. The adjoining municipality may provide a report and/or appear before the IWWC at any application review or public hearing on an application and the agency should consider any report or testimony from the adjoining municipality in making its decision.
Time Periods for Acting on Applications and Appeals
The Connecticut General Statutes require specific time limits for boards and commissions to process applications. Despite the perception that these time limits are for the benefit of the general public, presumably to prevent an applicant from unnecessarily delaying an application until public interest wanes; the legislative intent was actually to protect applicants from the abuses of boards and commissions that might unnecessarily delay receiving an application, opening or closing a public hearing, or making a decision on an application. CGS Section 8-7d specifies that complete applications are automatically received at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the board or commission after the day it is submitted the town, or after 35 days, whichever comes first. This ensures that the application is received and statutory periods for processing applications begin regardless of whether the commission has a meeting or formally acknowledges receipt of the application. Public hearings must open within 65 days after receipt of the application and must be closed within 35 days after the hearing is opened. The board or commission must make all decisions within 65 days after the close of a public hearing.
Unless a public hearing is required, the IWWC must make a decision within 65 days of receipt of an application. This time frame does not apply to applications initiated by the IWWC, since the IWWC does not require statutory protection from themselves. Under CGS Section 8-7d, an applicant or their agent may consent to one or more extensions of any time period specified above, provided that the total time period, including any extensions, does not exceed twice the original time period specified.
Legal Notice of Decisions
When the IWWC makes a decision, the Planning Department will publish a legal notice of decision in The Hartford Courant or other newspaper having a substantial circulation in Windsor within 15 days of the decision. If notice is not published within the 15-day period after a decision, the applicant may publish the notice within ten days thereafter. When an application is delegated to the Agent or the Agent otherwise takes action on an application, the applicant shall publish the decision in The Hartford Courant or other newspaper having a substantial circulation in Windsor within ten days of the Agent's decision.
The effective date of any decision shall be 15 days after the publication of the legal notice of decision, or in the case of an appeal, the day after the decision by the IWWC is sustained by the courts.
Filing with the Town Clerk
All text amendments must be filed in the Town Clerk’s Office and made available for public inspection, though more complete application files are available in the Planning Department.
Appeals of IWWC Decisions
Appeals from IWWC or Agent decisions must be made to superior court by an aggrieved party within 15 days from the date of publication of the legal notice of decision. While not required, an attorney well versed in land use law is strongly recommended when filing an appeal.
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Did You Know?
Public Heaing signs for the Town Planning and Zoning Commission contain a QR code that you can scan with any smartphone to access the Planning Department's web page for pending applications. Once there, you can find the completed application and a representative plan for the proposed project.