Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

 

Raised Bill No. 5128

February Session, 2012

 

LCO No. 896

 

*00896_______ENV*

 

Referred to Committee on Environment

 

Introduced by:

 

(ENV)

 

AN ACT CONCERNING CERTAIN REVISIONS TO THE COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT STATUTES.

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

Section 1. Section 22a-92 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2012):

(a) The following general goals and policies are established by this chapter:

(1) To [insure] ensure that the development, preservation or use of the land and water resources of the coastal area proceeds in a manner consistent with the capability of the land and water resources to support development, preservation or use without significantly disrupting either the natural environment or sound economic growth;

(2) To preserve and enhance coastal resources in accordance with the policies established by chapters 439, 440, 446i, 446k, 447, 474 and 477;

(3) To give high priority and preference to uses and facilities which are dependent upon proximity to the water or the shorelands immediately adjacent to marine and tidal waters;

(4) To resolve conflicts between competing uses on the shorelands adjacent to marine and tidal waters by giving preference to uses that minimize adverse impacts on natural coastal resources while providing long term and stable economic benefits;

(5) To consider in the planning process the potential impact of a rise in sea level, coastal flooding and erosion patterns on coastal development so as to minimize damage to and destruction of life and property and reduce the necessity of public expenditure and shoreline armouring to protect future development from such hazards;

(6) To encourage public access to the waters of Long Island Sound by expansion, development and effective utilization of state-owned recreational facilities within the coastal area that are consistent with sound resource conservation procedures and constitutionally protected rights of private property owners;

(7) To conduct, sponsor and assist research in coastal matters to improve the data base upon which coastal land and water use decisions are made;

(8) To coordinate the activities of public agencies to [insure] ensure that state expenditures enhance development while affording maximum protection to natural coastal resources and processes in a manner consistent with the state plan for conservation and development adopted pursuant to part I of chapter 297;

(9) To coordinate planning and regulatory activities of public agencies at all levels of government to [insure] ensure maximum protection of coastal resources while minimizing conflicts and disruption of economic development; and

(10) To [insure] ensure that the state and the coastal municipalities provide adequate planning for facilities and resources which are in the national interest as defined in section 22a-93, as amended by this act, and to [insure] ensure that any restrictions or exclusions of such facilities or uses are reasonable. Reasonable grounds for the restriction or exclusion of a facility or use in the national interest shall include a finding that such a facility or use: (A) May reasonably be sited outside the coastal boundary; (B) fails to meet any applicable federal and state environmental, health or safety standard or (C) unreasonably restricts physical or visual access to coastal waters. This policy does not exempt any nonfederal facility in use from any applicable state or local regulatory or permit program nor does it exempt any federal facility or use from the federal consistency requirements of Section 307 of the federal Coastal Zone Management Act.

(b) In addition to the policies stated in subsection (a), the following policies are established for federal, state and municipal agencies in carrying out their responsibilities under this chapter:

(1) Policies concerning development, facilities and uses within the coastal boundary are: (A) To manage uses in the coastal boundary through existing municipal planning, zoning and other local regulatory authorities and through existing state structures, dredging, wetlands, and other state siting and regulatory authorities, giving highest priority and preference to water-dependent uses and facilities in shorefront areas; (B) to locate and phase sewer and water lines so as to encourage concentrated development in areas which are suitable for development; and to disapprove extension of sewer and water services into developed and undeveloped beaches, barrier beaches and tidal wetlands except that, when necessary to abate existing sources of pollution, sewers that will accommodate existing uses with limited excess capacity may be used; (C) to promote, through existing state and local planning, development, promotional and regulatory authorities, the development, reuse or redevelopment of existing urban and commercial fishing ports giving highest priority and preference to water dependent uses, including but not limited to commercial and recreational fishing and boating uses; to disallow uses which unreasonably congest navigation channels, or unreasonably preclude boating support facilities elsewhere in a port or harbor; and to minimize the risk of oil and chemical spills at port facilities; (D) to require that structures in tidal wetlands and coastal waters be designed, constructed and maintained to minimize adverse impacts on coastal resources, circulation and sedimentation patterns, water quality, and flooding and erosion, to reduce to the maximum extent practicable the use of fill, and to reduce conflicts with the riparian rights of adjacent landowners; (E) to disallow the siting within the coastal boundary of new tank farms and other new fuel and chemical storage facilities which can reasonably be located inland and to require any new storage tanks which must be located within the coastal boundary to abut existing storage tanks or to be located in urban industrial areas and to be adequately protected against floods and spills; (F) to make use of rehabilitation, upgrading and improvement of existing transportation facilities as the primary means of meeting transportation needs in the coastal area; (G) to encourage increased recreational boating use of coastal waters, where feasible, by (i) providing additional berthing space in existing harbors, (ii) limiting non-water-dependent land uses that preclude boating support facilities, (iii) increasing state-owned launching facilities, and (iv) providing for new boating facilities in natural harbors, new protected water areas and in areas dredged from dry land; (H) to protect coastal resources by requiring, where feasible, that such boating uses and facilities (i) minimize disruption or degradation of natural coastal resources, (ii) utilize existing altered, developed or redevelopment areas, (iii) are located to assure optimal distribution of state-owned facilities to the state-wide boating public, and (iv) utilize ramps and dry storage rather than slips in environmentally sensitive areas; (I) to protect and where feasible, upgrade facilities serving the commercial fishing and recreational boating industries; to maintain existing authorized commercial fishing and recreational boating harbor space unless the demand for these facilities no longer exists or adequate space has been provided; to design and locate, where feasible, proposed recreational boating facilities in a manner which does not interfere with the needs of the commercial fishing industry; [and] (J) to require reasonable mitigation measures where development would adversely impact historical, archaeological, or paleontological resources that have been designated by the state historic preservation officer; and (K) to encourage a fair and orderly legal process to foster strategic retreat of property ownership, over a period of several decades, for coastal lands that have a likelihood of being lost due to erosion and coastal lands that contain structures that are subject to repetitive damage.

(2) Policies concerning coastal land and water resources within the coastal boundary are: (A) To manage coastal bluffs and escarpments so as to preserve their slope and toe; to discourage uses which do not permit continued natural rates of erosion and to disapprove uses that accelerate slope erosion and alter essential patterns and supply of sediments to the littoral transport system; (B) to manage rocky shorefronts so as to [insure] ensure that development proceeds in a manner which does not irreparably reduce the capability of the system to support a healthy intertidal biological community; to provide feeding grounds and refuge for shorebirds and finfish, and to dissipate and absorb storm and wave energies; (C) to preserve the dynamic form and integrity of natural beach systems in order to provide critical wildlife habitats, a reservoir for sand supply, a buffer for coastal flooding and erosion, and valuable recreational opportunities; to [insure] ensure that coastal uses are compatible with the capabilities of the system and do not unreasonably interfere with natural processes of erosion and sedimentation, and to encourage the restoration and enhancement of disturbed or modified beach systems; (D) to manage intertidal flats so as to preserve their value as a nutrient source and reservoir, a healthy shellfish habitat and a valuable feeding area for invertebrates, fish and shorebirds; to encourage the restoration and enhancement of degraded intertidal flats; to allow coastal uses that minimize change in the natural current flows, depth, slope, sedimentation, and nutrient storage functions and to disallow uses that substantially accelerate erosion or lead to significant despoliation of tidal flats; (E) to preserve tidal wetlands and to prevent the despoliation and destruction thereof in order to maintain their vital natural functions; to encourage the rehabilitation and restoration of degraded tidal wetlands and where feasible and environmentally acceptable, to encourage the creation of wetlands for the purposes of shellfish and finfish management, habitat creation and dredge spoil disposal; (F) to manage coastal hazard areas so as to [insure] ensure that development proceeds in such a manner that hazards to life and property are minimized and to promote nonstructural solutions to flood and erosion problems except in those instances where structural alternatives prove unavoidable and necessary to protect existing inhabited structures, infrastructural facilities or water dependent uses; (G) to promote, through existing state and local planning, development, promotional and regulatory programs, the use of existing developed shorefront areas for marine-related uses, including but not limited to, commercial and recreational fishing, boating and other water-dependent commercial, industrial and recreational uses; (H) to manage undeveloped islands in order to promote their use as critical habitats for those bird, plant and animal species which are indigenous to such islands or which are increasingly rare on the mainland; to maintain the value of undeveloped islands as a major source of recreational open space; and to disallow uses which will have significant adverse impacts on islands or their resource components; (I) to regulate shoreland use and development in a manner which minimizes adverse impacts upon adjacent coastal systems and resources; and (J) to maintain the natural relationship between eroding and depositional coastal landforms and to minimize the adverse impacts of erosion and sedimentation on coastal land uses through the promotion of nonstructural mitigation measures. Structural solutions are permissible when necessary and unavoidable for the protection of infrastructural facilities, water-dependent uses, or existing inhabited structures, and where there is no feasible, less environmentally damaging alternative and where all reasonable mitigation measures and techniques have been provided to minimize adverse environmental impacts.

(c) In addition to the policies stated in subsections (a) and (b), the following policies are established for federal and state agencies in carrying out their responsibilities under this chapter:

(1) Policies concerning development, facilities and uses within the coastal boundary are: (A) To minimize the risk of spillage of petroleum products and hazardous substances, to provide effective containment and cleanup facilities for accidental spills and to disallow offshore oil receiving systems that have the potential to cause catastrophic oil spills in the Long Island Sound estuary; (B) to disallow any filling of tidal wetlands and nearshore, offshore and intertidal waters for the purpose of creating new land from existing wetlands and coastal waters which would otherwise be undevelopable, unless it is found that the adverse impacts on coastal resources are minimal; (C) to initiate in cooperation with the federal government and the continuing legislative committee on state planning and development a long-range planning program for the continued maintenance and enhancement of federally-maintained navigation facilities in order to effectively and efficiently plan and provide for environmentally sound dredging and disposal of dredged materials; to encourage, through the state permitting program for dredging activities, the maintenance and enhancement of existing federally-maintained navigation channels, basins and anchorages and to discourage the dredging of new federally-maintained navigation channels, basins and anchorages; (D) to reduce the need for future dredging by requiring that new or expanded navigation channels, basins and anchorages take advantage of existing or authorized water depths, circulation and siltation patterns and the best available technologies for reducing controllable sedimentation; (E) to disallow new dredging in tidal wetlands except where no feasible alternative exists and where adverse impacts to coastal resources are minimal; (F) to require that new or improved shoreline rail corridors be designed and constructed so as (i) to prevent tidal and circulation restrictions and, when practicable, to eliminate any such existing restrictions, (ii) to improve or have a negligible adverse effect on coastal access and recreation and (iii) to enhance or not unreasonably impair the visual quality of the shoreline; (G) to require that coastal highways and highway improvements, including bridges, be designed and constructed so as to minimize adverse impacts on coastal resources; to require that coastal highway and highway improvements give full consideration to mass transportation alternatives and to require that coastal highways and highway improvements where possible enhance, but in no case decrease coastal access and recreational opportunities; (H) to disallow the construction of major new airports and to discourage the substantial expansion of existing airports within the coastal boundary; to require that any expansion or improvement of existing airports minimize adverse impacts on coastal resources, recreation or access; (I) to manage the state's fisheries in order to promote the economic benefits of commercial and recreational fishing, enhance recreational fishing opportunities, optimize the yield of all species, prevent the depletion or extinction of indigenous species, maintain and enhance the productivity of natural estuarine resources and preserve healthy fisheries resources for future generations; (J) to make effective use of state-owned coastal recreational facilities in order to expand coastal recreational opportunities including the development or redevelopment of existing state-owned facilities where feasible; (K) to require as a condition in permitting new coastal structures, including but not limited to, groins, jetties or breakwaters, that access to, or along, the public beach below mean high water must not be unreasonably impaired by such structures and to encourage the removal of illegal structures below mean high water which unreasonably obstruct passage along the public beach; and (L) to promote the revitalization of inner city urban harbors and waterfronts by encouraging appropriate reuse of historically developed shorefronts, which may include minimized alteration of an existing shorefront in order to achieve a significant net public benefit, provided (i) such shorefront site is permanently devoted to a water dependent use or a water dependent public use such as public access or recreation for the general public and the ownership of any filled lands remain with the state or an instrumentality thereof in order to secure public use and benefit in perpetuity, (ii) landward development of the site is constrained by highways, railroads or other significant infrastructure facilities, (iii) no other feasible, less environmentally damaging alternatives exist, (iv) the adverse impacts to coastal resources of any shorefront alteration are minimized and compensation in the form of resource restoration is provided to mitigate any remaining adverse impacts, and (v) such reuse is consistent with the appropriate municipal coastal program or municipal plan of development.

(2) Policies concerning coastal land and other resources within the coastal boundary are: (A) To manage estuarine embayments so as to [insure] ensure that coastal uses proceed in a manner that assures sustained biological productivity, the maintenance of healthy marine populations and the maintenance of essential patterns of circulation, drainage and basin configuration; to protect, enhance and allow natural restoration of eelgrass flats except in special limited cases, notably shellfish management, where the benefits accrued through alteration of the flat may outweigh the long-term benefits to marine biota, waterfowl, and commercial and recreational finfisheries and (B) to maintain, enhance, or, where feasible, restore natural patterns of water circulation and fresh and saltwater exchange in the placement or replacement of culverts, tide gates or other drainage or flood control structures.

(d) In addition to the policies in this section, the policies of the state plan of conservation and development adopted pursuant to part I of chapter 297 shall be applied to the area within the coastal boundary in accordance with the requirements of section 16a-31.

Sec. 2. Section 22a-93 of the general statutes is amended by adding subdivision (19) as follows (Effective October 1, 2012):

(NEW) (19) "Rise in sea level" means a rise, over a period of multiple years, expressed in terms of North American Vertical Data (NAVD), in the surface level of tidal and coastal waters of the state that are projected to occur at an average rate of not less than 2.4 inches per decade, or at a rate determined by the Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection to be in accordance with the best available science.

Sec. 3. Section 22a-106 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2012):

(a) In addition to determining that the activity proposed in a coastal site plan satisfies other lawful criteria and conditions, a municipal board or commission reviewing a coastal site plan shall determine whether or not the potential adverse impacts of the proposed activity on both coastal resources and future water-dependent development activities are acceptable.

(b) In determining the acceptability of potential adverse impacts of the proposed activity described in the coastal site plan on both coastal resources and future water-dependent development opportunities a municipal board or commission shall: (1) Consider the characteristics of the site, including the location and condition of any of the coastal resources defined in section 22a-93, as amended by this act, and the vulnerability of the site, based on the site's topography, to a rise in sea level; (2) consider the potential effects, both beneficial and adverse, of the proposed activity on coastal resources and future water-dependent development opportunities; and (3) follow all applicable goals and policies stated in section 22a-92, as amended by this act, and identify conflicts between the proposed activity and any goal or policy.

(c) Any persons submitting a coastal site plan as defined in subsection (b) of section 22a-105, as amended by this act, shall demonstrate that the adverse impacts of the proposed activity are acceptable and shall demonstrate that such activity is consistent with the goals and policies in section 22a-92, as amended by this act.

(d) A municipal board or commission approving, modifying, conditioning or denying a coastal site plan on the basis of the criteria listed in subsection (b) of this section shall state in writing the findings and reasons for its action.

(e) In approving any activity proposed in a coastal site plan, the municipal board or commission shall make a written finding that the proposed activity with any conditions or modifications imposed by the board: (1) Is consistent with all applicable goals and policies in section 22a-92, as amended by this act; (2) incorporates as conditions or modifications all reasonable measures which would mitigate the adverse impacts of the proposed activity on both coastal resources and future water-dependent development activities.

Sec. 4. Section 22a-105 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2012):

(a) Coastal municipalities shall undertake coastal site plan reviews in accordance with the requirements of this chapter.

(b) The following site plans, plans and applications for activities or projects to be located fully or partially within the coastal boundary and landward of the mean high water mark shall be defined as "coastal site plans" and shall be subject to the requirements of this chapter: (1) Site plans submitted to a zoning commission in accordance with section 22a-109; (2) plans submitted to a planning commission for subdivision or resubdivision in accordance with section 8-25 or with any special act; (3) applications for a special exception or special permit submitted to a planning commission, zoning commission or zoning board of appeals in accordance with section 8-2 or with any special act; (4) applications for a variance submitted to a zoning board of appeals in accordance with subdivision (3) of section 8-6 or with any special act, and (5) a referral of a proposed municipal project to a planning commission in accordance with section 8-24 or with any special act.

(c) In addition to the requirements specified by municipal regulation, a coastal site plan shall include a plan showing the location and spatial relationship of coastal resources on and contiguous to the site; a description of the entire project with appropriate plans, indicating project location, design, timing, and methods of construction; an assessment of the capability of the resources to accommodate the proposed use; an assessment of the suitability of the project for the proposed site; an evaluation of the potential beneficial and adverse impacts of the project, an assessment, based on the topography of the site, of the impact that a rise in sea level will have on the proposed use or structure over the use or structure's projected life span and a description of proposed methods to mitigate adverse effects on coastal resources.

(d) Municipalities, acting through the agencies responsible for the review of the coastal site plans defined in subsection (b) of this section, may require a filing fee to defray the reasonable cost of reviewing and acting upon an application.

(e) The board or commission reviewing the coastal site plan shall, in addition to the discretion granted in any other sections of the general statutes or in any special act, approve, modify, condition or deny the activity proposed in a coastal site plan on the basis of the criteria listed in section 22a-106, as amended by this act, to ensure that the potential adverse impacts of the proposed activity on both coastal resources and future water-dependent development activities are acceptable. The provisions of this chapter shall not be construed to prevent the reconstruction of a building after a casualty loss unless: (1) A significant portion of the land on which such building is erected was lost to erosion or inundation, (2) any portion of such building would be located waterward of mean high water, (3) such reconstruction would require noncompliance with any building codes or zoning in effect at the time the building was originally constructed, or (4) such building was significantly damaged and rebuilt after prior flooding or storm events.

(f) Notwithstanding the provisions of any other section of the general statutes to the contrary, the review of any coastal site plan pursuant to this chapter shall not be deemed complete and valid unless the board or commission having jurisdiction over such plan has rendered a final decision thereon. If such board or commission fails to render a decision within the time period provided by the general statutes or any special act for such a decision, the coastal site plan shall be deemed rejected.

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

Section 1

October 1, 2012

22a-92

Sec. 2

October 1, 2012

22a-93

Sec. 3

October 1, 2012

22a-106

Sec. 4

October 1, 2012

22a-105

Statement of Purpose:

To address sea level rises in coastal zone management statutes.

[Proposed deletions are enclosed in brackets. Proposed additions are indicated by underline, except that when the entire text of a bill or resolution or a section of a bill or resolution is new, it is not underlined.]