AN ACT CONCERNING SPECIAL DEVELOPMENT ZONES.
AN ACT CONCERNING SPECIAL DEVELOPMENT ZONES.
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Connecticut Seal  

General Assembly

Substitute Bill No. 6995

    January Session, 2007

*_____HB06995PD____032307____*

AN ACT CONCERNING SPECIAL DEVELOPMENT ZONES.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Section 8-376 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2007):

(a) As used in this section and section 8-378, as amended by this act, "blighted property" means any structure or vacant or unimproved lot or parcel (1) that has significant unremedied building, housing or health code violations; (2) that has a high vacancy rate or is abandoned, vacant or unoccupied; (3) for which taxes are delinquent; or (4) that has been deemed a public nuisance under any provision of the general statutes or any local ordinance; and

(b) Any municipality [which is a distressed municipality as defined in subsection (b) of section 32-9p, on October 1, 1987,] (1) that is classified as a public investment community within the meaning of subdivision (9) of subsection (a) of section 7-545, or (2) in which at least twenty-five per cent of the real property in one or two contiguous United States census tracts or a portion of an individual census tract as determined in accordance with the most recent United States census is blighted property may apply to the Commissioner of Economic and Community Development to designate an area of such municipality as a housing development zone. Any [such area shall consist] municipality that is a public investment community shall designate as a housing development zone an area that consists of one or two contiguous United States census tracts or a portion of an individual census tract as determined in accordance with the most recent United States census. Any municipality that has one or two contiguous census tracts or a portion of an individual census tract as determined in accordance with the most recent United States census in which at least twenty-five per cent of the real property is blighted property shall designate such census tracts as the housing development zone. At least twenty-five per cent of the designated area shall be zoned or allow for multifamily residential dwellings.

Sec. 2. Section 8-378 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2007):

(a) The Commissioner of Economic and Community Development may approve the designation of [up to three areas in the state] qualified portions of a municipality as housing development zones, provided the commissioner shall not approve the designation of more than one housing development zone in any municipality. [Proposals for financial assistance received by the commissioner from eligible developers, as defined in section 8-39, for programs or projects authorized pursuant to chapter 128, 130, 133 or 138 which will be located in a housing development zone shall be accorded a high priority to receive financial assistance from the commissioner.] A municipality applying for approval of the designation shall include information in such application sufficient for the commissioner to determine that such municipality (1) is classified as a public investment community, or (2) has at least twenty-five per cent of the real property in one or two contiguous United States census tracts or a portion of an individual census tract as determined in accordance with the most recent United States census in the municipality is blighted property. The commissioner may remove the designation of any area which has been approved as a housing development zone if such area no longer meets the criteria for designation as such a zone set forth in sections 8-376 and 8-377 or in regulations adopted pursuant to section 8-381, provided no such designation shall be removed less than ten years from the original date of approval of such zone.

(b) The commissioner shall give immediate consideration for financial assistance pursuant to chapter 128, 130, 133, 138 or 588l or section 8-37pp or 8-336p to proposals from eligible developers, as defined in section 8-39, that will be located in a housing development zone. If a project to be located in a housing development zone is comparable to a project that will not be located in a housing development zone, the commissioner shall give priority to authorization of the project in the housing development zone.

Sec. 3. Section 32-1m of the general statutes is amended by adding subdivision (16) as follows (Effective July 1, 2007):

(NEW) (16) A detailed summary of projects funded in housing development zones, along with a description of the priority the projects received, the number funded and the amount of funds awarded.

Sec. 4. Subdivision (v) of section 32-222 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2007):

(v) "Targeted investment community" means a municipality which contains an enterprise zone designated pursuant to section 32-70 or a housing development zone designated pursuant to section 8-378, as amended by this act.

Sec. 5. Subsection (d) of section 10-416 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2007):

(d) The commission shall, in consultation with the Commissioner of Revenue Services, adopt regulations, in accordance with chapter 54, to carry out the purposes of this section. Such regulations shall provide that if an historic home located in a housing development zone designated pursuant to section 8-378, as amended by this act, is comparable to an historic home that is not located in a housing development zone, priority for issuance of tax credit vouchers shall be given to the historic home located in the housing development zone.

Sec. 6. Subsection (d) of section 10-416a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2007):

(d) The commission shall adopt regulations, in accordance with chapter 54, to carry out the purposes of this section. Such regulations shall include provisions for filing of applications, rating criteria and for timely approval by the commission. Such regulations shall provide that if a certified historic structure located in a housing development zone designated pursuant to section 8-378, as amended by this act, is comparable to a certified historic structure that is not located in a housing development zone, priority for issuance of tax credit vouchers shall be given to the certified historic structure located in the housing development zone.

Sec. 7. Subsection (k) of section 8-395 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2007):

(k) The Connecticut Housing Finance Authority, with the approval of the Commissioner of Revenue Services, shall adopt written procedures in accordance with section 1-121 to implement the provisions of this section. Such procedures shall include provisions for issuing tax credit vouchers for cash contributions to housing programs based on a system of ranking housing programs. In establishing such ranking system, the authority shall consider the following: (1) The readiness of the project to be built; (2) use of the funds to build or rehabilitate a specific housing project or to capitalize a revolving loan fund providing low-cost loans for housing construction, repair or rehabilitation to benefit persons of very low, low and moderate income; (3) the extent the project will benefit families at or below twenty-five per cent of the area median income and families with incomes between twenty-five per cent and fifty per cent of the area median income, as defined by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development; (4) evidence of the general administrative capability of the nonprofit corporation to build or rehabilitate housing; (5) evidence that any funds received by the nonprofit corporation for which a voucher was issued were used to accomplish the goals set forth in the application; and (6) with respect to any income year commencing on or after January 1, 1998: (A) Use of the funds to provide housing opportunities in urban areas and the impact of such funds on neighborhood revitalization; and (B) the extent to which tax credit funds are leveraged by other funds. Ten additional points shall be awarded for projects located in housing development zones.

Sec. 8. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2007) On or before February 1, 2008, and annually thereafter, the Commission on Culture and Tourism shall submit a report to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to planning and development and to the select committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to housing on the issuance of tax credit vouchers for historic homes located in housing development zones pursuant to section 10-416 of the general statutes, as amended by this act, and certified historic structures in housing development zones, pursuant to section 10-426a of the general statutes, as amended by this act. Such report shall include detailed information on the vouchers issued for historic homes and certified historic structures located in housing development zones, along with a description of the priority they received, the number and the amount of such vouchers issued.

Sec. 9. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2007) In issuing tax credits under the Low Income Tax Credit Program, 26 USC 42, the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority shall award ten individual points for projects located in housing development zones.

Sec. 10. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2007) On or before February 1, 2008, and annually thereafter, the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority shall submit a report on the issuance of tax credits under section 8-395 of the general statutes, as amended by this act, and under the Low Income Tax Credit Program, 26 USC 42 to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to planning and development and to the select committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to housing. Such report shall include detailed information on the vouchers issued for housing located in housing development zones, along with a description of the priority they received, the number and amount of such vouchers issued.

Sec. 11. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2007) (a) The zoning commission of each municipality may establish a conservation development zone as part of the zoning regulations adopted under section 8-2 of the general statutes or any special act.

(b) A conservation development zone shall be an overlay zone and shall satisfy the following requirements:

(1) The housing density of the conservation development zone shall constitute an increase of at least ten per cent more than the housing density of the underlying zone;

(2) The size of lots in the conservation development zone shall be based on soil characteristics. If a lot does not have an on-site well and septic system, the regulations may authorize the commission to waive the requirements of the zoning regulations, including, but not limited to, requirements for acreage, setbacks, lot coverage, building height and road frontage; and

(3) Open space in a development shall follow the contours of the land in the area to be developed and the minimum amount or unimproved open space of a development in the conservation development zone shall be forty per cent of the land in the development. Open space may be transferred by easement of conveyance to the municipality or to a nonprofit land holding conservation organization.

Sec. 12. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2007) A zoning commission, at the time of and as part of its adoption of regulations for a conservation development zone, may adopt design standards for conservation within such zone. An application for a development in a housing development shall not be subject to review under section 8-3c of the general statutes, but shall be subject to site plan review under subsection (g) of section 8-3 of the general statutes.

Sec. 13. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2007) (a) A zoning commission, at the time of and as part of its adoption of regulations for a cluster zone, may adopt design standards for conservation development within such zone. Such design standards may (1) ensure that construction within the conservation development zone is complementary to adjacent and neighboring buildings and structures; and (2) address the scale and proportions of buildings; site coverage; alignment, width and grade of streets and sidewalks; type and location of infrastructure; location of building and garage entrances; off-street parking; protection of significant natural site features; location and design of open spaces; signage; and setbacks and buffering from adjacent properties.

(b) A design standard shall not be adopted if such standard will unreasonably impair the economic or physical feasibility of constructing housing at the minimum densities.

Sec. 14. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2007) A zoning commission, at the time of and as part of its adoption of regulations for a conservation development zone, may adopt design standards for developments within such zone. Such design standards may (1) ensure that construction within the conservation development zone is complementary to adjacent and neighboring buildings and structures; and (2) address the scale and proportions of buildings; site coverage; alignment, width and grade of streets and sidewalks; type and location of infrastructure; location of building and garage entrances; off-street parking; protection of significant natural site features; location and design of open spaces; signage; and setbacks and buffering from adjacent properties.

Sec. 15. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2007) (a) A zoning commission shall prescribe, consistent with the provisions of this section and sections 11 to 14, inclusive, of this act, the form of an application for approval of a conservation development. Receipt and processing of applications shall follow the time periods and procedures of chapter 124 or chapter 126 of the general statutes, as applicable. A zoning commission or its agent is authorized, to the extent allowed by the Freedom of Information Act, to conduct one or more preliminary or preapplication planning or workshop meetings with regard to a conservation development zone or development. A zoning commission may conduct a public hearing in connection with an application for site plan or subdivision approval of a conservation development.

(b) The regulations of a conservation development zone may require the applicant for approval of a conservation development to pay the cost of reasonable consulting fees to provide peer review of the technical aspects of the application for the benefit of the zoning commission. Such fees shall be held in a separate account and used only for expenses associated with the technical review of the application by consultants who are not otherwise salaried employees of the municipality or the zoning commission, and any surplus remaining, including any interest accrued, shall be returned to the applicant within forty-five days of the completion of such technical review.

(c) Conservation development zone regulations may provide for the referral of a site plan or subdivision application for comment to other agencies, boards or commissions of the municipality. If a site plan or subdivision application is referred to another agency, board or commission, such agency, board or commission shall provide any comments within the time period contained in section 8-7d of the general statutes that is applicable to such application.

(d) A conservation development shall be approved by the zoning commission subject only to conditions that are necessary to (1) ensure substantial compliance of the proposed development with the requirements of the conservation zone regulations, design standards and, if applicable, subdivision regulations; or (2) mitigate any extraordinary adverse impacts of the development on nearby properties. An application may be denied only on the grounds that: (A) The development does not meet the requirements set forth in the conservation zone regulations; (B) the applicant failed to submit information and fees required by the regulations and necessary for an adequate and timely review of the design of the development or potential development impacts; or (C) it is not possible to adequately mitigate significant adverse project impacts on nearby properties by means of conditions acceptable to the applicant.

(e) The duration and renewal of an approval of a conservation development shall be governed by subsection (i) of section 8-3, subsection (j) of section 8-3, section 8-26c or section 8-26g of the general statutes, as applicable. The time to complete the work approved shall be extended (1) by the time required to adjudicate to final judgment any appeal from a decision of the commission on a conservation development site plan or subdivision plan or any required coordinate permit; (2) by the zoning commission if the applicant is actively pursuing other permits needed for the development; (3) if there is other good cause for the failure to complete such work; or (4) as provided in an approval for a multiphase development.

(f) Approval of or amendment to regulations or design standards for a conservation development zone or subzone, or site plan or subdivision approval of a conservation development, may be appealed to the Superior Court in compliance with the provisions of section 8-8 or section 8-28 of the general statutes, as applicable, provided that (1) upon motion made to the court by the defendant municipality, zoning commission, planning commission or applicant, the court shall order each appealing party to post a bond in an amount sufficient to cover (A) each moving defendant's anticipated attorney's fees and costs for defending against the appeal, and (B) if applicable, an applicant's anticipated or actual costs to carry and maintain its interest in the subject property for a period of one year, as established by affidavit filed with the court, which bond shall be forfeited in the event that the appealing party does not substantially prevail in the appeal; (2) any such appeal, upon motion by any defendant made at any time after the return date, shall be transferred from the judicial district to which it is returned to the judicial district of New Britain and shall be heard and decided by one of the judges designated by the Chief Court Administrator under chapter 126a of the general statutes; and (3) any such appeal shall be a privileged case in the order of trial, to be heard by the court as soon after the return day as is practicable.

Sec. 16. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2007) (a) Any municipality that is eligible for small town economic assistance under section 4-66g of the general statutes may designate, by ordinance adopted by its legislative body, a nutmeg zone within the municipality. Such ordinance shall identify a specific geographic area as such zone and shall establish criteria and goals for economic activity in the zone.

(b) Upon designation of a nutmeg zone under subsection (a) of this section, the municipality may apply to the Commissioner of Economic and Community Development for state approval of the designation. The municipality seeking the approval of the commissioner for designation of an area of the municipality as a nutmeg zone shall file with the commissioner a preliminary application. Not later than sixty days after receipt of such a preliminary application, the commissioner shall indicate to the municipality, in writing, any recommendations for improving the municipality's application. On or before July 1, 2008, and annually thereafter, the commissioner shall conduct a lottery to select ten nutmeg zones in the state.

(c) The amount of property taxes due under chapter 203 of the general statutes for a facility that is constructed, improved substantially renovated or expanded in a nutmeg zone, on or after the effective date of this section, that is attributable to such construction, improvement, substantial renovation or expansion shall be abated by the municipality in which such facility is located for a period of three years after the date of construction, improvement, substantial renovation or expansion. The state, acting through the Commissioner of Economic and Community Development, shall provide a grant to the municipality in the amount of taxes abated under this section.

(d) The Commissioner of Economic and Community Development may adopt regulations, in accordance with chapter 54 of the general statutes, to implement this section.

This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:

Section 1

July 1, 2007

8-376

Sec. 2

July 1, 2007

8-378

Sec. 3

July 1, 2007

32-1m

Sec. 4

July 1, 2007

32-222(v)

Sec. 5

July 1, 2007

10-416(d)

Sec. 6

July 1, 2007

10-416a(d)

Sec. 7

July 1, 2007

8-395(k)

Sec. 8

July 1, 2007

New section

Sec. 9

July 1, 2007

New section

Sec. 10

July 1, 2007

New section

Sec. 11

July 1, 2007

New section

Sec. 12

July 1, 2007

New section

Sec. 13

July 1, 2007

New section

Sec. 14

July 1, 2007

New section

Sec. 15

July 1, 2007

New section

Sec. 16

October 1, 2007

New section

PD

Joint Favorable Subst.