|LEGISLATIVE INTENT REGARDING THE READOPTION OF INTERIM ZONING ORDINANCES|
2 of document(s) retrieved
September 05, 2001
LEGISLATIVE INTENT REGARDING THE READOPTION OF INTERIM ZONING ORDINANCES
By: John G. Rappa, Principal Analyst
You wanted to know if the legislature meant to allow towns to readopt interim zoning ordinances after their statutory five-year expiration date. The Office of Legislative Research cannot give legal opinions and you should not regard this memo as one.
The law gives towns that have not adopted the zoning statutes or exercise zoning powers under a special act the option of exercising zoning powers under a municipal ordinance that must expire within five years of its adoption (CGS Sec. 8-17a). While the plain language of the statute does not preclude towns from adopting a new land use ordinance after the old one expires, the legislative record suggests that the General Assembly did not contemplate this practice.
The House imposed the five-year sunset and limited the conditions under which towns could adopt ordinances after several legislators said they were concerned about towns regulating land uses without having to abide by the procedural safeguards incorporated in the zoning statutes.
During that discussion, Representative Barnes remarked, “If you are going to set up regulations as designed in this bill, there are no standards that are applied here. One doesn't know what the limits of power are. . . So to leave this to the whim of a town council without the proper safeguards that are in Title 8, I think is a very dangerous thing to do” (House Proceedings, April 7, 1982, p. 1264).
Representative Ryback, the bill's sponsor, responded, suggesting the bill aimed to help towns gain experience regulating land uses before adopting the full panoply of zoning powers: “…once a town has had an experience with zoning on a minimal level…once they've gotten their toe in the waters, so to speak, there is no doubt in my mind. My personal feeling is that they will move forward and adopt zoning” (p. 1265).
Representative Barnes subsequently proposed the amendment imposing the five-year sunset and limiting the range of towns that could adopt the ordinances. Ryback introduced the amendment, explaining “any such ordinance adopted pursuant to this power, could not be affected more than five years from its date of adoption” (House Proceedings, May 3, 1982, p. 7107). Barnes then added:
I think Rep. Ryback has covered it, except to explain one thing. That once a community adopts the legislative zoning powers before us, that the clock will begin to tick and even if ordinances are changed under Title 7 [municipal powers], the clock will continue to tick regardless of the change. So that whatever the community does after five years, the Title 7 allowance will pass and you will have to adopt Title 8 [the zoning statutes]” (pp. 7107-08, emphasis added).
The legislature would not have imposed the five-year sunset if it meant to allow towns to automatically renew the ordinances after they expired, University of Connecticut land use law professor Terry Tondro, speculated. “It appears that the assumption was that towns using this section would ease themselves into the use of full-fledged zoning; if the power could be used indefinitely through renewal of CGS Sec. 8-17a regulations at the end of the five year validity period, why would the legislature provide for automatic expiration?” (Connecticut Land Use Regulation, (1992), p15).
Tondro acknowledged some town attorneys argue differently, but added “The result is that since none of the parties to a zoning dispute know just what the limits of the regulations are, they are forced to factor into their decisions about whether to regulate, or to propose a development, the costs and delays of litigation much more frequently then they would under a traditional zoning regime” (p. 15).