Planning and Development Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-6589

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING LAND USE APPEALS.

Vote Date:

3/11/2009

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable

PH Date:

3/2/2009

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Representative Brendan Sharkey, 88th District, Planning and Development Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

To establish a separate administrative appeals docket in each judicial district for the hearing of all land use and administrative appeals matters; and to assign all administrative appeals to judges identified by the Chief Court Administrator as having experience in land use matters or administrative appeals.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

W. David LeVasseur, Under Secretary, Office of Policy and Management

We endorse the concept of HB 6589, but we believe there may be unanticipated costs to Connecticut's Judicial System. A postponement of this bill until October 1, 2009 would allow the Judicial Branch adequate time in devising an efficient process to implement the provisions of this bill.

Stephen N. Ment, State of Connecticut Judicial Branch

We are opposed to HB 6589. This bill would require a separate docket in each judicial district to exclusively hear land use matter cases and also assign judges with experience to such cases. With the number of civil cases pending the Chief Court Administrator needs maximum flexibility to move cases expeditiously which this bill will reduce by creating a specialized docket and restricting the assigning of judges.

Susan Bysiewicz, Secretary of the State of Connecticut:

I would like to commend the Smart Growth Working Group for its efforts to develop a comprehensive policy proposal in this area.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Metro Hartford Alliance

We are in favor of HB 6589. The formation of a separate docket for land use and administrative appeals would expedite land use issues. These cases will be heard by judges with specific experience in land use and administrative manners.

Bill Ethier, Chief Executive Officer, Home Builders Association of Connecticut, INC.

Home Builders Association strongly supports HB 6589. Land use dispute resolutions are long and expensive to come by. A more defined set of judges with experience in land use matters would create more consistency in outcomes. A consistent policy and set of procedures that apply in all judicial districts could go a long way to streamline the appeal process. In addition to HB 6589 being a good start we suggest the language be amended to add “applicable to all judicial districts” after “procedures” on line 11.

Heidi Green, President, 1000 Friends of Connecticut

1000 Friends of Connecticut is in support of HB 6589. An expedited appeals process can provide citizens greater certainty and help reduce developer costs. This bill would establish a land use court in each judicial district which can provide a strong incentive for citizen engagement at the local level, creating strong plans backed by clear zoning and design guidelines alleviating length and costly legal wrangling.

Margaret Miner, Executive Director, Rivers Alliance of Connecticut

We support HB 6589. As written this bill can make the appeals process fairer, faster and more predictable. Any amendment with language aimed at limiting existing rights we would oppose.

Mark N. Paquette, Executive Director, Windham Region Council of Governments

WINCOG is in support of HB 6589. The proposed legislation to assign all administrative appeals to judges identified by the Chief Court Administrator as having experience in land use matters is critical to the entire smart growth package.

Ron Thomas, Connecticut Conference of Municipalities

CCM is in favor of HB 6589. This bill will ensure the judges and others associated with the land use cases have expertise to make sound assessments. This bill will expedite decision-making, which is favorable to all concerned parties.

Christoper S. Wood, Government Relations Chairman, Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association

CCAPA strongly supports HB 6589. This is a logical and appropriate approach to expediting legal challenges to land use decisions and we recommend that the Committee seek input from practicing land use attorneys.

Eric Brown, Associate Counsel, Connecticut Business & Industry Association:

CBIA supports this bill.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

None offered

Reported by: Dorian Lockett

Date: 4/01/09