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749 Hopmeadow St.
Simsbury, CT 06070
  860-658-4442

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Protecting the Farmington Valley's Natural Resource Legacy

Introduction | Resources for Protecting Biodiversity | Action Points | Land Use Links

Action Points Summary and Augmentation for "From Planning to Action: Biodiversity Conservation in Connecticut Towns - Metropolitan Conservation Alliance Technical Paper No. 10" - provided by the Farmington River Watershed Association

Download the formatted Action Points summary which includes:

  • details of actions/reasoning and references to the Planning to Action handbook, and
  • references to relevant state statutes. (PDF 60kb)
  • ***Note that the 'action resources' listed below are only available online.

Click on each Action Point below to find specific links and resources for each item. The land use links page also contains links to the organizations in Connecticut and beyond that have also researched much of this information.

Acquire and maintain appropriate natural resource data

Adopt provision for applicants to fund outside expert review

Plan at an ecosystem scale

Provide for pre-application review process

Update POCD/ Align regulations with POCD

Incorporate BMP’s and BDP’s into standard application review and permitting

Implement zoning techniques to conserve ecologically sensitive and important areas

Reduce use of mitigation

Expand Open Space Programs*

Train and Educate Land Use commissioners and Staff

Institute Separate IWWC and Conservation Commissions

Increase review, compliance and monitoring effort

Adopt specific ecological review standards for applicants.

Reach out to landowners in conservation areas to promote ecologically friendly behavior



ACTION: Acquire and maintain appropriate natural resource data

  • Make use of Farmington Valley Biodiversity Project recommendations.
  • Inventory and map natural resources - this may include using volunteers to collect data on special habitats such as vernal pool data etc.
  • Use technical resources to display & share data.
  • Incorporate data into town Plan of Conservation & Development (POCD) and incorporate results into goals, policies and land use regulations.
  • Establish priority areas for preservation or ecologically sensitive development.
  • Ideally Conservation Commission takes lead for town in considering and implementing recommendations.

ACTION RESOURCES:

NEMO's Community Resource Inventory (CRI)

Also from NEMO - Open Space Planning Packet "comprised of about 20 individual fact sheets, a set of model open space regulations regarding subdivisions and a manual on how to conduct a natural resource inventory."

CT EXAMPLE: Guilford Conservation Commission's Natural Resrource Inventory. Woodstock Conservation Commission.     (top)


ACTION:Plan at an ecosystem scale

  • Consider IMA (inter-municipal agreement) - states both values of resources and formal commitment to work together to achieve planning and protection goals across town boundaries.

ACTION RESOURCES:

Inter-municipal Tools from the Pace University Land Use Law Center

Gaining Ground Database: Inter-municipal Agreements.

"In Search of Regional Land Use Harmony", John Nolon and Jayne Daly from Pace Land Use Center. "This Article, written by John Nolon and Jayne Daly, considers the state of New York's cities and the possible benefits afforded these urban areas through inter-municipal cooperation and regional land use planning." (downloads/opens Word document). Reference record.

CT EXAMPLE: Eightmile River Wild & Scenic Project    (top)


ACTION: Update Plan of Conservation and Development / Align regulations with POCD

  • Should be a roadmap to achieve conservation goals.
  • Incorporate specific findings, recommendations and goals concerning ecologically sensitive areas.
  • Outline site priorities for protection and how exactly the goals will be achieved.
  • Review current regulations for consistency with POCD.
    Prioritize updates.

ACTION RESOURCES:

Planning and Land Use Regulation from the Pace University Land Use Law Center.

Capitol Region Council of Governments Community Development resources.

CT DEP Inland Wetlands Model Reguation (downloads PDF)

CT EXAMPLE: Simsbury POCD, Old Saybrook POCD    (top)


ACTION: Implement zoning techniques to conserve ecologically sensitive and important areas

  • Use commissions broad authority to implement progressive zoning. , e.g., require or provide incentives for cluster development (perhaps combined with up-zoning) in sensitive areas.
  • Protect sensitive areas with overlay zones.
  • Transfer development rights away from priority conservation areas.
  • Establish conservation development zones that require ~50% open space set-asides(potentially combined with cluster options).

ACTION RESOURCES:

Massachusetts Smart Growth Toolkit. This excellent set of educational tools, example documents and well thought out explanations is an extremely useful resrource. "This Toolkit provides easy access to information on twelve different planning, zoning and subdivision techniques that will make smart growth a reality in your community." Includes case studies, model bylaws and slide shows on Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND), Transit Oriented Development (TOD), Open Space Residential Design (OSRD), Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU), Agricultural Preservation, Low Impact Development LID),and Inclusionary Zoning among other topics. Although the handbook was developed for Massachusetts, many of the concepts and specific examples apply very well to Connecticut.

Development Tools from the Pace University Land Use Law Center

NEMO Fact Sheets (specifically #9)

[Open space subdivisoin example]

Model Critical Environmental Area Overlay District from Pace Land Use Law Center's Gaining Ground Information Database. "The following is a model law that can be used by municipalities to protect wildlife habitat and other critical environmental areas." (downloads/opens Word document)

Also from the Land Use Law Center Information Database (all Word documents):

Protection of Natural Resources Ordinance

Ridgeline Protection Zone

Conservation Development

Temporary Subdivision Moratorium

Ridgeline Protection Overlay Zone

Overlay Districts, Overlay Zoning

CT EXAMPLE: Green Valley Institute's land use fact sheets including Transfer of Development Rights and other excellent smart development publications. Each fact sheet gives examples from Connecticut.     (top)


ACTION: Expand Open Space Programs *

  • Prioritize ecologically sensitive and important areas for open space acquisition.
  • Encourage the use of conservation easements/purchase of development rights or fee acquisition to protect important areas.
  • Use/increase conservation subdivision options and increase open space set-aside requirements/incentives.
  • Seek alternate sources of open space funding – e.g. state, federal or regional programs, real estate transaction tax (if/when state legislation allows), local bonds, etc.
  • Separate commission for regulating land use vs. conservation of resources/time commitments prevent coverage of conservation issues (because Inland Wetlands Commissions are regulatory by law, regulatory matters tend to dominate in an all-in-one commission).

ACTION RESOURCES:

NEMO Open Space Planning Packet

Gaining Ground Database: Open Space Preservation

Green Valley Institute's land use fact sheet Funding Open Space in Connecticut.

CT EXAMPLE: Town of Woodstock (resource inventory tied to open space plan). East Haddam Conservation Commission    (top)


ACTION: Institute Separate IWWC and Conservation Commissions

  • Separate commission for regulating land use vs. conservation of resources.
  • Time commitments prevent coverage of conservation issues (because Inland Wetlands Commissions are regulatory by law, regulatory matters tend to dominate in an all-in-one commission).

ACTION RESOURCES:

Connecticut Association of Conservation and Inland Wetland Commission's (CACIWC):

Green Valley Institute's step by step guide to separating Conservation and Wetlands commissions.

CT EXAMPLE: Old Saybrook    (top)


ACTION: Adopt specific ecological review standards for applicants.

  • Establish and incorporate standards for collection of natural resources data by applicants in order to facilitate design review.
  • Would shorten most application times and serve the applicant as well as the public.

ACTION RESOURCES:

Model Critical Environmental Area Overlay District - from Pace Land Use Law Center's Gaining Ground Information Database. "The following is a model law that can be used by municipalities to protect wildlife habitat and other critical environmental areas." (downloads/opens Word document)

"Local Regulation of Natural Resources", by Jeffery LeJava from Pace Land Use Center. "LeJava’s article reviews the authority that local governments in New York State have to preserve and protect their natural resources." (downloads/opens Word document). Reference record.

CT EXAMPLE: TBA     (top)


ACTION: Adopt provision for applicants to fund outside expert review

  • Pass town ordinance allowing for flexible fee schedule based on application size and complexity.
  • Encourage commissions to make use of these fees to hire outside/specialized consultants in order to obtain a comprehensive and expert review of the site/application at hand.
  • The additional review made possible by these fees can greatly improve a site plan for applicant, town and environment.
  • Collection of these fees ultimately saves time and money for the applicant as well as saves significant tax dollars spent on private applications.

ACTION RESOURCES:

CT EXAMPLE: Old Saybrook (or search for "fees" on their General Code page). Town of Farmington General Code Page, search "fees" or browse to Chapter 98, section 4.     (top)


ACTION: Provide for pre-application review process

  • Encourage pre-application meetings/collaboration between applicants, town staff and interested third parties (unbiased resource experts, local organizations etc).
  • Incorporate into POCD and individual regulations.
  • Establish incentives and standards for pre-application review - especially in conservation areas.
  • A collaborative pre-application process tends to decrease the application timeline (red flag issues are often avoided), bring new/better ideas to the table and increase the quality of the site plan from the perspective of all interested parties.

ACTION RESOURCES:

Town of Woodstock example in Planning to Action handbook. See top of page.

CT EXAMPLE: Town of Woodstock, and NEMO publication "CT Impact Report" on the Woodstock example.    (top)


ACTION: Incorporate BMP's and BDP's into standard application review and permitting

  • Outline relevant/desired BMP's and BDP's in POCD or regulations.
  • Provide easy access to information on these tools so that commissions and staff may guide site design review.

ACTION RESOURCES:

Vernal pool BMPs from the MCA (scroll down to Tech Paper #5).

Other BMP suggestions TBA.

CT EXAMPLE: The Town of Torrington has included many of these standards into their various applications, guidelines and regulations. Also, the town of Stonington has implemented these changes in many situations.     (top)


ACTION: Reduce use of mitigation

  • Reduce use of mitigation on site-by-site basis.
  • Look at big picture.
  • Rank preference for mitigation in regulations as low.

ACTION RESOURCES:

Excerpt from Branford Inland Wetlands Regulations in the Planning to Action handbook. See top of page.

CT EXAMPLE: Town of Old Saybrook Inland Wetlands Regulations Section 10.2 D     (top)


ACTION: Train and Educate Land Use Commissioners and Staff

  • Promote/require initial and continued training for land use commissioners & staff (CACIWC, DEP, LULA, NEMO, Land Use Academey).
  • Provide incentives to applicants and local land use professionals to do land use certification / LULA training.
  • Technically proficient commissions have more latitude in guiding site plan review.
  • Better education results in better process and outcome for both conservation and development issues.

ACTION RESOURCES:

Gaining Ground Database: Mandatory Training.

LULA - The Land Use Leadership Alliance Training Program is an excellent course that teaches participants how to use land use law, conflict resolution, and community decision-making techniques to accomplish sustainable community development.

CLEAR (Center for Land Use Education and Research) - CLEAR provides information, education and assistance to land use decision makers, in support of balancing growth and natural resource protection. CLEAR's education programs include NEMO which is an award winning and progressive University of Connecticut program for local land use officials addressing the relationship of land use to natural resource protection. See Land Use Links for more.

Connecticut Association of Conservation and Inland Wetland Commissions

CT EXAMPLE: Old Saybrook  (top)


ACTION: Increase review, compliance and monitoring effort

  • Provide adequate staff time for pre-application process as well as thorough site plan review.
  • Provide staff time to monitor and regulate permit compliance.
  • Specify how sites should be monitored.

ACTION RESOURCES:

Gaining Ground Database: Enforcement

CT EXAMPLE: TBA     (top)


ACTION: Reach out to landowners in conservation areas to promote ecologically friendly behavior

  • Work with existing municipal programs, local schools and non-profit to foster "sustainable" behavior (e.g, organic fertilizer use, removal of invasive species etc).

ACTION RESOURCES:

Center for Watershed Protection - Outreach program.

Biodiversity Project - "Life. Nature. You. Make the connection." This Wisconsin based organization is producing high quality educational materials and programs, most of which are very applicable to the Northeast. Check out the publications as well as the Five Ways to Create Healthier Homes and Habitats.

CT EXAMPLE: TBA

 
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