Developers Guide to the Development Process-
PUBLIC HEARINGS AND NOTICE
The State Statues set forth very specific procedures for public notice, hearings, and decisions. Since the majority of the court cases which go against a Planning and Zoning Commission do so because of procedural flaws, it is essential that the Planning and Zoning commission follow the procedure set forth by the General Statues.
A public hearing must be held by the Planning and Zoning Commission on the adoption of a Plan of Development or subdivision regulations, on any proposed zoning code, zone change, or amendment to a code, any application for a special exception and for the approval of resubdivision plans.
The General Statues section 8-7d and 8-26d define the day of receipt of an application as the day of the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission immediately following the day of submission to the Planning and Zoning Department of an application or thirty-five (35) days after such submission, whichever is sooner. In Middletown, the application procedure is as follows: Six (6) folded set of plans only for proposed subdivisions and special exceptions are submitted to the office and circulated for departmental review. Upon receipt of all comments, notification is made to the applicant and a formal application along with revised plans, if necessary, and a filing fee can then be submitted. The item will then be placed on the next Planning and Zoning Commission agenda for a public hearing to be scheduled. Site Plan Review applications that require Planning and Zoning Commission approval must be submitted ten (10) days prior to the meeting. It is this day of receipt on which mandatory deadlines are based. It is required that legal notice of the public hearing precede the hearing. This legal notice must be in a newspaper of substantial circulation in the municipality. Notice must be made twice at intervals of not less than two (2) days, with the first appearing not more than fifteen (15) days or less than ten (10) days before the hearing and the second appearing at least two (2) days prior to the hearing. The applicant must receive a copy of the notice by certified mail and a copy must be made available in the Town Clerk's Office ten (10) days before the hearing. The Planning and Zoning Commission can go beyond the minimum required notice. For instance, some communities send notices to abutters and post notice at the site. In Middletown, the Planning and Zoning Commission requires that applicants who require a public hearing must post a sign on the site at least seven (7) days prior to the hearing.
The Public Hearing must be held within sixty-five (65) days after receipt of the application. The hearing is only a time for the Planning and Zoning Commission to ask questions and derive the general consensus of the concerned citizens present, both pro and con. The hearing must be completed within thirty (30) days after the hearing commences. After the thirty day period for public hearing the Commission has a maximum of sixty-five (65) days for completion of the decision. After the decision has been made, notice must be published, once again in a newspaper having substantial circulation in the municipality, within fifteen (15) days after the decision has been made. Following this notice there is a fifteen (15) day appeal period. By consent of the applicant each of these deadlines may be extended once.
The General Statues do not require a public hearing for the approval of subdivision plans. But, a decision within sixty-five (65) days of the day of receipt, publication of such decision in fifteen (15) days and notification of the applicant are required. However, here in Middletown, it is customary that applicants for subdivision go through the public hearing, as outlined above.
A public hearing is also not required for the site plan approval process. Action on site plans must be taken within sixty-five (65) days of receipt of the plan and notice of decision must come within fifteen (15) days after the decision. In the case of site plan approval, time extensions of the fifteen and sixty-five day limit may be allowed twice.
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