[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Council of the Town of Stratford 4-13-1988. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The inland wetlands and watercourses of the Town of Stratford are an indispensable and irreplaceable but fragile natural resource with which the citizens of the Town of Stratford have been endowed. The wetlands and watercourses are an interrelated web of nature essential to an adequate supply of surface and underground water, to hydrological stability and control of flooding and erosion, to the recharging and purification of groundwater and to the existence of many forms of animal, aquatic and plant life. Many inland wetlands and watercourses have been destroyed or are in danger of destruction because of unregulated use by reason of the deposition, filling or removal of material, the diversion or obstruction of water flow, the erection of structures and other uses, all of which have despoiled, polluted and eliminated wetlands and watercourses. Such unregulated activity has had and will continue to have a significant, adverse impact on the environment and ecology of the region and has imperiled and will continue to imperil the quality of the environment, thus adversely affecting the ecological, scenic, historic and recreational values and benefits of the Town for its citizens now and forever more. The preservation and protection of the wetlands and watercourses from random, unnecessary, undesirable and unregulated uses, disturbance or destruction is in the public interest and is essential to the health, welfare and safety of the citizens of the Town. It is therefore the purpose of this chapter, to protect the citizens of the Town of Stratford by making provisions for the protection, preservation, maintenance and use of the inland wetlands and watercourses by minimizing their disturbance and pollution; maintaining and improving water quality in accordance with the highest standards set by federal, state or local authority; preventing damage from erosion, turbidity or siltation; preventing the loss of fish and other beneficial aquatic organisms, wildlife and vegetation and the destruction of the natural habitats thereof; deterring and inhibiting the danger of flooding and pollution; protecting the quality of wetlands and watercourses for their conservational, economic, aesthetic, recreational and other public and private uses and values; and protecting the Town's potable freshwater supplies from the dangers of drought, overdraft, pollution, misuse and mismanagement by providing an orderly process to balance the need for the economic growth of the Town and the use of its land with the need to protect its environment and ecology in order to forever guarantee to the people of the Town of Stratford the safety of such natural resources for their benefit and enjoyment and for the benefit and enjoyment of generations yet unborn.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- The Commissioner of Environmental Protection.
- Includes but shall not be limited to fill, grade, dump, place, discharge or emit.
- The emission of any water, substance or material into waters of the state, whether or not such substance causes pollution.
- INLAND WETLANDS AGENCY
- The Stratford Inland Wetlands Commission established pursuant to and acting under Section 22a-42 of the Connecticut General Statutes, as amended by Section 5 of P.A. 87-533.
- The whole or any part of any permit, certificate of approval or similar form of permission which may be required of any person by the provisions of Sections 22a-36 to 22a-45, inclusive, of the Connecticut General Statutes, as amended by P.A. 87-533.
- Any substance, solid or liquid, organic or inorganic, including but not limited to soil, sediment, aggregate, land, gravel, clay, bog, mud, debris, sand, refuse or waste.
- Any Town, consolidated Town and city, consolidated Town and Borough, city or Borough.
- Any person, firm, partnership, association, corporation, company, organization or legal entity of any kind, including municipal corporations, governmental agencies or subdivisions thereof.
- Harmful thermal effect or the contamination or rendering unclean or impure of any waters of the state by reason of any waste or other materials discharged or deposited therein by any public or private sewer or otherwise so as directly or indirectly to come in contact with any waters.
- REGULATED ACTIVITY
- Any operation within or use of a wetland or watercourse involving removal or deposition of material or any obstruction, construction, alteration or pollution of such wetland or watercourse, but shall not include the specified activities in Section 22a-40 of the Connecticut General Statutes, as amended by Section 2 of P.A. 87-533.
- Includes but shall not be limited to drain, excavate, mine, dig, dredge, suck, bulldoze, dragline or blast.
- RENDERING UNCLEAN OR IMPURE
- Any alteration of the physical, chemical or biological properties of any of the waters of the state, including but not limited to change in odor, color, turbidity or taste.
- SOIL SCIENTIST
- An individual duly qualified in accordance with standards set by the United States Civil Service Commission.
- Sewage or any substance, liquid, gaseous, solid or radioactive, which may pollute or tend to pollute any of the waters of the state.
- Rivers, streams, brooks, waterways, lakes, ponds, marshes, swamps, bogs and all other bodies of water, natural or artificial, public or private, which are contained within, flow through or border upon this state or any portion thereof, not regulated pursuant to Sections 22a-28 to 22a-35, inclusive, of the Connecticut General Statutes.
- Land, including submerged land, not regulated pursuant to Sections 22a-28 to 22a-35, inclusive, of the Connecticut General Statutes which consists of any of the soil types designated as "poorly drained," "very poorly drained," "alluvial" and "floodplain" by the National Cooperative Soils Survey, as may be amended from time to time, of the Soil Conservation Service of the United States Department of Agriculture.
The following operations and uses shall be permitted in wetlands and watercourses as of right:
Grazing, farming, nurseries, gardening and harvesting of crops and farm ponds of three acres or less essential to the farming operation. The provisions of this subsection shall not be construed to include road construction or the erection of buildings not directly related to the farming operation, the relocation of watercourses with continual flow, the filling or reclamation of wetlands or watercourses with continual flow, the clear cutting of timber except for the expansion of agricultural crow land, or the mining of topsoil, peat, sand, gravel or similar material from wetlands or watercourses for the purposes of sale.
A residential home for which a building permit has been issued or which is on a subdivision lot, provided that the permit has been issued or the subdivision has been approved by the Stratford Planning and Zoning Commission or the Stratford Municipal Zoning Commission as of the effective date of promulgation of the municipal regulations pursuant to Subsection (b) of Section 22a-42a of the Connecticut General Statutes, as amended by Section 6 of P.A. 87-533, or as of July 1, 1974, whichever is earlier, and further provided that no residential home shall be permitted as of right pursuant to this subsection unless the permit was obtained on or before July 1, 1987.
Boat anchorage or mooring.
Uses incidental for the enjoyment and maintenance of residential property, such property defined as equal to or smaller than the largest minimum residential lot site permitted anywhere in the Town of Stratford. Such incidental uses shall include maintenance of existing structures and landscaping but shall not include removal or deposition of significant amounts of material from or onto a wetland or watercourse or diversion or alteration of a watercourse.
Construction and operation, by water companies as defined in Section 16-1 of the Connecticut General Statutes or by municipal water supply systems as provided for in Chapter 102 of the Connecticut General Statutes, of dams, reservoirs and other facilities necessary to the impounding, storage and withdrawal of water in connection with the public water supplies, except as provided in Section 22a-401 and 22a-403 of the Connecticut General Statutes.
The following operations and uses shall be permitted as nonregulated uses in wetlands and watercourses, provided that they do not disturb the natural and indigenous character of the wetland or watercourse by removal or deposition of material, alteration or obstruction of water flow or pollution of the wetland or watercourse:
Conservation of soil, vegetation, water, fish, shellfish and wildlife.
Outdoor recreation, including play and sporting areas, golf courses, field trails, nature studies, hiking, horseback riding, swimming, skin diving, camping, boating, waterskiing, trapping, hunting, fishing and shellfishing where otherwise legally permitted and regulated.
The Town of Stratford hereby establishes the Stratford Inland Wetlands Commission, an inland wetlands agency, to carry out the provisions of Sections 22a-36 to 22a-45, inclusive, of the Connecticut General Statutes, as amended by P.A. 87-533. Such agency shall have authority to promulgate such regulations, in conformity with the regulations adopted by the Commissioner pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes, Section 22a-39, as amended by Section 2 of P.A. 87-533, as are necessary to protect the wetlands and watercourses within its territorial limits. The Commission shall be composed of seven members, electors of the Town of Stratford, to be appointed by the Chairman of the Stratford Town Council, at least two of whom shall be members of the Stratford Conservation Commission and at least one of whom shall be a member of the Stratford Waterfront Authority. In addition, there shall be two alternate members, to be appointed by the Chairman of the Stratford Town Council, both of whom shall be electors of the Town of Stratford. The Chairman of the Stratford Town Council shall make all said appointments within 30 days of the effective date of this chapter. Three regular members and two alternate members shall be appointed for terms of two years and four regular members shall be appointed for terms of four years. Biannually thereafter, regular and alternate members shall be appointed by the Chairman of the Stratford Town Council for terms of four years to replace those whose terms expire. All terms shall begin as provided by the Town Council. No member or alternate member of such Commission shall participate in the hearing or decision of such Commission of which he is a member upon any matter in which he is directly or indirectly interested in a personal or financial sense. In the event of such disqualification, such fact shall be entered on the records of such Commission, and replacement shall be made from alternate members with an alternate to act as a member of such Commission in the hearing and determination of the particular matter or matters in which the disqualification arose. For the purpose of this section, the Stratford Inland Wetlands Commission shall serve as the sole agent for the licensing of regulated activities.
Nothing contained in this chapter shall be construed to limit the existing authority of any board or commission of the Town of Stratford.
The Stratford Inland Wetlands Commission shall, through regulation, provide for:
The manner in which the boundaries of inland wetland and watercourse areas in the Town of Stratford shall be established and amended or changed.
The form for an application to conduct regulated activities.
Notice and publication requirements.
Criteria and procedures for the review of applications.
Administration and enforcement.
No regulations of the Stratford Inland Wetlands Commission, including boundaries of inland wetland and watercourse areas, shall become effective or be established until after a public hearing in relation thereto is held by the inland wetlands agency, at which parties in interest and citizens shall have an opportunity to be heard. Notice of the time and place of such hearing shall be published in the form of a legal advertisement appearing in a newspaper having a substantial circulation in the Town of Stratford at least twice at intervals of not less than two days, the first not more than 25 days nor less than 15 days and the last not less than two days before such hearing, and a copy of such proposed regulation or boundary shall be filed in the office of the Town Clerk for public inspection at least 10 days before such hearing and may be published in full in such paper. A copy of the notice and the proposed regulations or amendments thereto, except determinations of boundaries, shall be provided to the Commissioner at least 35 days before such hearing. Such regulations and inland wetland and watercourse boundaries may be, from time to time, amended, changed or repealed by a majority vote of the inland wetlands agency after a public hearing in relation thereto is held by the inland wetlands agency, at which parties in interest and citizens shall have an opportunity to be heard and for which notice shall be published in the manner specified in this subsection. Regulations or boundaries or changes therein shall become effective at such time as is fixed by the inland wetlands agency, provided that a copy of such regulation, boundary or change shall be filed in the office of the Town Clerk. Whenever the Stratford Inland Wetlands Commission makes a change in regulations or boundaries, it shall state upon its records the reason why the change was made and shall provide a copy of such regulation, boundary or change to the Commissioner of Environmental Protection no later than 10 days after its adoption, provided that failure to submit such regulation, boundary or change shall not impair the validity of such regulation, boundary or change. All petitions submitted in writing and in a form prescribed by the inland wetlands agency requesting a change in the regulations or the boundaries of inland wetland and watercourse areas shall be considered at a public hearing in the manner provided for establishment of inland wetlands regulations and boundaries within 90 days after receipt of such petition. The Stratford Inland Wetlands Commission shall act upon the changes requested in such petition within 60 days after the hearing. The petitioner may consent to extension of the periods provided for hearing and for adoption or denial or may withdraw such petition.
On and after the effective date of the regulations promulgated pursuant to Subsection B of this section, no regulated activity shall be conducted upon any inland wetland and watercourse without a permit from the Stratford Inland Wetlands Commission. Any person proposing to conduct or cause to be conducted a regulated activity upon an inland wetland and watercourse shall file an application with the Stratford Inland Wetlands Commission. The application shall be in such form and contain such information as the Commission may prescribe. The day of receipt of an application shall be the day of the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Commission immediately following the day of submission to the Commission of such application, provided that such meeting is no earlier than three business days after receipt or 35 days after such submission, whichever is sooner. No later than 65 days after receipt of such application, the Commission shall hold a public hearing on such application. Notice of the hearing shall be published at least twice at intervals of not less than two days, the first not more than 15 days and not fewer than 10 days and the last not less than two days before the date set for the hearing, in a newspaper having a general circulation in the Town of Stratford. All applications and maps and documents relating thereto shall be open for public inspection. At such hearing, any person or persons may appear and be heard. The hearing shall be completed within 45 days of its commencement Action shall be taken on applications within 35 days after the completion of a public hearing or, in the absence of a public hearing, within 65 days from the date of receipt of the application.
In granting, denying or limiting any permit for a regulated activity, the Stratford Inland Wetlands Commission shall consider the factors set forth in Section 22a-41 of the Connecticut General Statutes, as amended by Section 4 of P.A. 87-533, and such Commission shall state upon the record the reason for its decision. In granting a permit, the Commission may grant the application as filed or grant it upon such terms, conditions, limitations or modifications of the regulated activity designed to carry out the policy of Sections 22a-36 to 22a-45, inclusive, of the Connecticut General Statutes, as amended by P.A. 87-533. No person shall conduct any regulated activity within an inland wetland or watercourse which requires zoning or subdivision approval without first having obtained a valid certificate of zoning or subdivision approval, special permit, special exception or variance or other documentation establishing that the proposal complies with the zoning or subdivision requirements adopted by the Town of Stratford pursuant to Chapters 124 to 126 of the Connecticut General Statutes, inclusive, or any Special Act. The Commission may suspend or revoke a permit if it finds, after giving notice to the permittee of the facts or conduct which warrants the intended action and after a hearing at which the permittee is given an opportunity to show compliance with the requirements for retention of the permit, that the applicant has not complied with the conditions or limitations set forth in the permit or has exceeded the scope of the work as set forth in the application. The applicant shall be notified of the Commission's decision, and the Commission shall cause notice of its order in issuance, denial, revocation or suspension of a permit to be published in a newspaper having a general circulation in the Town of Stratford.
The Stratford Inland Wetlands Commission may require a filing fee to be deposited with the agency. The amount of such fee shall be sufficient to cover the reasonable cost of reviewing and acting on applications and petitions, including but not limited to the costs of certified mailings, publications of notices and decisions and monitoring compliance with permit conditions or agency orders.
In carrying out the purpose and policies of Sections 22a-36 to 22a-45, inclusive, of the Connecticut General Statutes, as amended by P.A. 87-533 of the Connecticut General Statutes, including matters relating to the regulating, licensing and enforcing of the provisions thereof, the Commission shall take into consideration all relevant facts and circumstances, including but not limited to:
The environmental impact of the proposed action;
The alternatives to the proposed action;
The relationship between short-term uses of the environment and the maintenance and enhancement of long-term productivity;
Irreversible and irretrievable commitments of resources which would be involved in the proposed activity;
The character and degree of injury to or interference with safety, health or the reasonable use of property which is caused or threatened; and
The suitability or unsuitability of such activity to the area for which it is proposed.
In the case of an application which received a public hearing, a permit shall not be issued unless the Commission finds that a feasible and prudent alternative does not exist In making its finding, the Commission shall consider the facts and circumstances set forth in Subsection A. The finding and reasons therefor shall be stated on the record.