The Zoning Regulations are the written rules that govern land use in Windsor and are adopted and periodically amended by the TPZC. Zoning is a governmental police power that allows Windsor to regulate the use of land and buildings in such a way as to protect public health, safety, and general welfare and achieve a logical pattern of land development in accordance with the POCD. The Zoning Regulations, together with the Official Zoning Map are the primary tools for implementing the POCD. The Zoning Regulations can be viewed free here, or can be viewed or purchased in the Planning Department between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Unlike the Subdivision Regulations, the Zoning Regulations are regularly amended at the request of citizens, town staff, and the TPZC itself, to address development trends, changing technology, and societal changes. The Zoning Regulations were comprehensively re-written in their entirety in 2008, resulting in a simplified, more readable document, and the elimination of several conventional and design development zoning districts. When adopting or amending Zoning Regulations, the TPZC is acting in a legislative capacity, giving them the discretion to approve or deny applications for zoning text amendments as they see fit.
The Official Zoning Map, also referred to in the Connecticut General Statutes as the comprehensive plan, is a map that divides Windsor into 15 land use zones that dictate the use and scale of development. There are six residential zones; two business zones; four office, industrial, and warehouse zones; an agricultural zone, an institutional zone, and a planned urban development zone. Each zone corresponds with a section or subsection in the Zoning Regulations that dictates the allowed uses and zone specific development standards such as lot area, building height, etc.
The Official Zoning Map is periodically amended at the request of property owners, town staff, and the Commission itself. When amending the Official Zoning Map, the TPZC is acting in a legislative capacity, giving them the discretion to approve or deny zone boundary change applications. This may seem confusing but it is considered a legislative act because changing a zone boundary effectively changes which set of regulations apply to the area being rezoned.
The Subdivision Regulations are the written rules that govern the subdivision of land in Windsor and are adopted and periodically amended by the TPZC. Subdivision is a governmental police power that allows Windsor to regulate the division of land and the layout of roads and open spaces. The Subdivision Regulations work hand-in-hand with the Zoning Regulations and the Engineering Standards and Specifications to ensure that the division of land, the construction of roads and other public infrastructure, and the preservation of opens space are done appropriately. The Subdivision Regulations can be viewed or purchase in the Planning Department between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
While rarely done, when amending Subdivision Regulations, the TPZC is acting in a legislative capacity, giving them the discretion to approve or deny applications for subdivision text amendments as they see fit. However, when acting on a subdivision application or re-subdivision application, the TPZC is acting in an administrative capacity and is compelled to approve or approve with modifications, any application that meets the letter of the subdivision and zoning regulations, and engineering standards.
Engineering Standards and Specifications
Developed by the Engineering Division of the Development Services Group, also known as the Engineering Department, the Engineering Standards and Specifications provide consistent guidance to developers, contractors, and homeowners so that public improvements reflect the use of quality materials as well as proven designs and construction techniques that will continue to enhance our community. These standards and specifications include illustrated standard details of street lighting, storm drainage structures, sidewalks, roadways and other improvements, as well as written specifications for how construction is to be carried out. They are revised from time to time to reflect changes in technology, materials, and construction practices.
All planning and zoning application files, in some cases dating back to the 1960s, are kept in the Planning Department and are open to public inspection between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Files typically contain applications; plans or proposed text; supporting materials; correspondences; staff comments; and other miscellaneous information.
Application materials such as completed application forms and a representative site plan sheet (when applicable) are also posted online prior to a meeting. This information can also be accessed from a smart phone by scanning the QR code provided on public hearing signs that are required to be posted on sites that are the subject of a Town Planning and Zoning Commission (TPZC) public hearing.
For access to a full set of plans and all other application materials, it is strongly recommended that citizens visit the Planning Department between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, well before an item is scheduled to be reviewed by the TPZC. Planning Department staff is available to explain application materials and receive valuable input from abutters and other interested parties. If you bring a regulatory oversight to the attention of staff, changes to the application will be required to meet the regulations. In other instances, staff may pass on your suggestions that an applicant might incorporate into their application if financially or otherwise feasible, resulting in a superior development than might otherwise be required.
It should be noted that unless accompanied by another application that requires a public hearing, site plan applications do not themselves require a public hearing and there may be no opportunity to point out regulatory oversights or suggest site improvements during a public meeting. When a public hearing is required, waiting until the public hearing to suggest changes that go beyond the requirements of the regulations might not be well received by the applicant if they would delay their application or require another costly set of engineered revisions to their application. By meeting with Town staff or even the applicant well before the hearing, the applicant might incorporate suggested changes into their application if they are financially or otherwise feasible
To remain informed of pending applications without regularly reading the Hartford Courant legal notices or visiting the Planning Department website, you may sign up for the TPZC’s Public Notice Registry here. The Planning Department will e-mail you or your organization legal notices and agendas as they become available.