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Legislative Relief For Connecticut's Development Community

Connecticut Law Tribune

October 3, 2011

Authors: Christopher J. Smith

The Connecticut General Assembly passed two significant pieces of legislation this year that provide much needed relief to Connecticut’s struggling development community during these challenging economic times. The first provides additional time to complete certain developments, and the second provides greater flexibility for posting bonds and sureties for improvements associated with certain land use approvals.

Permit Extensions
Public Act No. 11-5, entitled “An Act Extending the Time of Expiration of Certain Land Use Permits,” provides that site plan, subdivision and wetlands approvals that did not expire prior to May 9, 2011, “shall expire not less than nine years after the date of such approval,” and are entitled to extensions so that the total time period for all extensions shall not exceed 14 years from the date of approval. Prior to this new law, these approvals could be extended for up to 10 or even 11 years. The purpose of this new legislation is to provide additional time to complete developments stalled due to financial difficulty, and where the approved permits are about to expire and work is not completed or has not commenced.

To obtain an extension under Public Act No. 11-5, one must submit a request with the applicable land use commission and comply with all municipal filing requirements. The request must be submitted prior to the expiration of the approval. Public Act No. 11-5 appears to provide an automatic extension whereby all approvals prior to May 9, 2011, that have not expired, are “automatically” valid for nine years from the date of the initial approval.

For example, a site plan approved in 2007 may automatically be extended by the Act to 2016. However, one should request confirmation in writing that the initial approval is valid to 2016. Otherwise, a commission may take the position in 2016 that your approval expired in 2013, six years after the initial approval as provided under the prior statutory language. Certainly, any request for time beyond the initial nine years must be formally submitted to the commission prior to expiration. The new law does not indicate how early in the approval time period one may request an extension.

Public Act No. 11-5 does not necessarily extend time periods for conditions that commenced with an approval, such as recording plans and permits, posting bonds, commencing or completing public improvements, start of construction requirements (especially for a wetlands permit), complying with phasing provisions, and granting or recording conveyances such as open space or easements.

Therefore, when requesting an extension provided by the law, be sure to request modifications of all related conditions in the approval. In addition, if one’s initial approval is automatically extended by Public Act No. 11-5 to nine years, and time periods for certain conditions of approval will expire within such nine-year period, then one must return to the commission and request an extension of time to complete or otherwise satisfy the related condition.

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