Inspired in large part by the harrowing experiences Connecticut’s shoreline residents lived through in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene and Hurricane Sandy, the General Assembly passed a comprehensive bill that aims to ease the permitting process for shoreline property owners.
“In recent years, our state faced serious challenges after several storms brought flooding, power outages and other issues to our coastline,” said State Senator Kevin C. Kelly (R-Stratford). “These events negatively impacted thousands of people living along the shore in our state and throughout New England. While life has largely returned to normal, our state must be better prepared for future storm events. This bill will relax restrictions on shoreline homeowners who would like to repair and rebuild their homes and properties, and it will also allow these residents to better protect their properties before the arrival of any future storms.”
Key provisions of the bill (S.B. 1012), include:
-Removing elevated decks from the Coastal Area Management provision. This means that local government, rather than the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), will have jurisdiction over these structures.
-Encouraging beach renourishment, as opposed to beach hardening. DEEP will now be a repository for certain information with respect to dredging material that municipalities and certain flood erosion districts could use for beach replenishment. Only certain sands can be used to replenish certain beaches. This provision will make it easier for towns to find the right match and more cost-effectively acquire the sand they need.
-Grandfathering in docks built prior to 1995. If a property owner owns a dock built prior to 1995, DEEP can no longer order it to be taken down, and the owner can perform certain maintenance on it with Certificate of Permission (COP) as long as the owner demonstrates substantial compliance with existing environmental laws.
“Ultimately, the legislature worked very hard to balance environmental concerns with the rights of property owners in developing this legislation,” continued Senator Kelly. “It was a good compromise for all those involved in the discussion, and the state will likely continue to refine and improve our coastal management laws to meet new challenges. I am proud that this bill passed with bipartisan and unanimous support.”
The bill, S.B. 1012, passed in both the Senate and House of Representatives and was signed into law by the Governor on June 21st.
Press Release, July 12, 2013