The Farmington River Watershed Association launched The Farmington Valley Biodiversity Project (FVBP) in 2001-2002 with partners in 7 towns (Avon, Canton, East Granby, Farmington, Granby, Simsbury, and Suffield) and the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Metropolitan Conservation Alliance. In so doing, FRWA tripled the biological data on natural resources available to local decision-makers and documented in the State’s Natural Diversity Database. To date, information from this project has been (or is in the process of being) incorporated into 6 Plans of Conservation and Development. The official report and data from this project were officially released in February of 2007.

At the same time that the Biodiversity Project towns have acquired additional abilities to conduct natural resource planning, the pace of development (primarily residential) continues to overwhelm any meaningful conservation benefits on the ground. At the root of this problem are several issues:

  • inconsistent land-use regulations from town-to-town that are not always focused on long-term resource conservation (often more focused on mitigating rather than avoiding problems);
  • inadequate appreciation for resource problems such as stormwater pollution/impervious surfaces, erosion/sedimentation, groundwater/aquifer protection;
  • imbalance between project proponents who hire environmental consultants and lawyers and volunteer land-use commissions/municipalities who often lack access to expertise and/or are intimidated by the prospects of litigation; and,
  • lack of resources at the municipal level to both analyze development proposals thoroughly and enforce permit requirements at construction sites after projects are approved.

With leading support from the Gackstatter Foundation, FRWA is working with local towns, regional organizations and other non-profit organizations to implement land use changes that will protect the Farmington Valley’s unique and important natural legacy.

Land Use Links

The Land Use Law Center – The Land Use Law Center is dedicated to fostering the development of sustainable communities in New York State. Their Land Use Library is a vast and useful resource, many of which are specifically referenced on these pages.

Gaining Ground Information Database – Created by the Land Use Law Center at Pace Law School, this database provides information on laws and practices in the field of land use law in a highly accessible format, thereby facilitating the adoption of innovations at the local level. This includes some good examples (download as Word documents) of environmental overlay district, natural resource protection ordinance, conservation developments, and ridgeline protection overlay among many  others.

Articles can also be browsed by topic or state (including Connecticut), many of which are linked here: Conservation Subdivisions, Enforcement, Environmental Compliance, Environmental Impact Review Requirements, Inter-municipal Agreements, Mandatory Training, Open Space Preservation, Overlay District, Overlay Zoning, Resource Conservation, Ridgeline Protection, Site Plan Approval, Site Design Standards, Wildlife & Fish Habitat.

LULA: The Land Use Leadership Alliance Training Program is a four-day course that teaches participants how to use land use law, conflict resolution, and community decision-making techniques to accomplish sustainable community development. LULA is coordinated by the Pace Land Use Law Center and the Connecticut RC&D Districts.

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 (see below). They also host high resolution digital imagery and other spatial data.

NEMO (Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials) – Award winning and progressive University of Connecticut program for local land use officials addressing the relationship of land use to natural resource protection. NEMO has many excellent programs and publications available on line. Examples include: Impervious Surfaces, Resource Inventory, Land Use Publications and workshops.

Connecticut Association of Conservation and Inland Wetland Commissions (CACIWC) has a mission “To promote the statutory responsibilities of Connecticut Conservation Commissions and Inland Wetland Commissions and to foster environmental quality through education and through the conservation and protection of wetlands and other natural resources.” CACIWC offers some excellent downloadable position papers on Upland Review Areas, combined versus separate Inland Wetlands and Watercourse Commissions and combined versus separate Conservation and Inland Wetland Commissions.

Center for Watershed Protection – Provides local governments, activists, and watershed organizations around the country with the technical tools for protecting streams, lakes and rivers. Includes excellent resource pages on wetlands, stormwater, watershed planning, and site planning amongst many other topics.

Green Valley Institute’s land use publications including e-publications on “Saving Land Saves Taxes” and “Innovative Zoning Techniques – Overlay Districts” among other topics. Each fact sheet also gives examples of how the various techniques have been implemented in Connecticut. GVI also has a good amount of web-based planning resources.

Planners Web – Home of Planning Commissioners Journal and hosts many good articles and resources. Planning ABCs and On Board: Guide for Planning Commissioners are two excellent publications by Planners Web.

General Code is a good source for example regulations and ordinances.

NRCS Publication – Assistance to Communities: Conservation Technical Assistance Program Fact Sheet Book (PDF 2.08 MB)

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.

Connecticut Environmental Review Teams (ERT) – “A group of environmental professionals drawn together from a variety of federal, state, regional and local agencies to form multidisciplinary environmental study teams to assist municipalities in review of sites proposed for development or preservation.”