Commission Descriptions

Zoning Commission

The Zoning Commission, generally meets the third Monday of the month (except January, February and November when the meeting date varies). Per Connecticut General Statues the zoning commission can:

  • Regulate the height, number of stories, maximum size of structures, the location of the structure and the total area of the lot that may be occupied.
  • Regulate the height, size and location of advertising signs.
  • Establish, change or repeal local zoning regulations and districts.
  • Hear, consider, and decide upon petitions for changes in the local zoning regulations, zoning district boundaries, and requests for special exceptions in accordance with the zoning regulations.
  • Establish and administer regulations providing for special exemptions from density limits for construction of affordable housing (as defined by state law)

Planning Commission

The Planning Commission generally meets the second Thursday of the month. Per the Connecticut General Statues the planning commission:

  • Must prepare, amend and adopt a plan of conservation and development, showing the commission's recommendation for the most desirable use of land for residential, recreational, commercial, industrial and other purposes at least once every ten years.
  • Must review and may make recommendations on all proposed municipal improvements, such as street locations or changes; public schools, parks and utilities; and public housing developments.
  • May establish, change or repeal regulations for the subdivision and resubdivision of land.
  • Determines whether the existing division of any land constitutes a subdivision or resubdivision.
  • Hears, considers, and decides upon applications for approvals of the subdivision or resubdivision of land.
  • The commission may waive certain requirements of the subdivision regulations when deciding upon applications for subdivision or resubdivision where special conditions exist, in accordance with standards and criteria set forth in the zoning regulations but only if the waiver will not adversely affect adjacent property with respect to public health and safety.

Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission

The Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission, generally meets the second Tuesday of the month. The IWWC:

  • Establishes, change or repeal inland wetlands and watercourses regulations and boundaries of inland wetlands and watercourses. Tidal wetlands are excluded from municipal regulations and are regulated by the CT Department of Environmental Protection.
  • Hears, consider and decide upon applications for regulated activities involving inland wetlands and watercourses and/or the regulated upland area to a wetland. Determine whether proposed activities are exempt from, or otherwise not subject to, the regulations. In Essex, the commission reviews activities that are within 60' of a wetland and within 100' of a waterbody or water course.
  • Takes appropriate actions to enforce the inland wetlands and watercourses regulations and any permit conditions.
  • Delegates to the authorized agent the authority to approve or extend an activity that is not located in an inland wetland or watercourse.
  • Hears appeals of any decision of its agent to issue a permit, and to sustain, alter, or to require that an application be made directly to the commission.

Zoning Board of Appeals

The Zoning Board of Appeals usually meets on the third Tuesday of the month. The specific powers and duties to the Zoning Board of Appeals are:

  • Hear, consider and decide upon appeals when it is claimed that there is an error in any order, requirement or decision of the Zoning Enforcement Agent (ZEA)
  • Determine and modify the application of the zoning regulations in harmony with their general purpose and intent. Variance power allows the board to excuse a landowner from complying with one or more zoning regulation. This power may be used only with respect to a parcel of land having unusual conditions. In legal terms, the condition must cause "exceptional difficulty or unusual hardship." (such as a huge out cropping of ledge or the historic sitting of a building)