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Proposed amendment would target building size
Litchfield.bz (03-19-13)


Litchfield's Planning and Zoning Commission is proposing a new zoning amendment regarding the use of large new and existing buildings for commercial purposes in non-residential areas.

The proposed amendment would require applicants to seek special exception approval for buildings of 10,000 square feet or more or 12,000 square feet or more of gross floor area.
 
A public hearing on the proposed amendment will be held May 6 at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall Annex gym in Bantam. Residents are encouraged to submit verbal and/or written opinions during the hearing. The proposal is posted as a link on the land use department web page on the town website (www.townoflitchfield.org) and has been referred to surrounding regional and municipal agencies for their opinion.  
 
Planning and zoning's character committee crafted the proposed amendment, which differs from current regulations granting building approval or expansion by administrative permit and/or site plan approval.
 
A special exception application requires an additional $250 fee and an extra public hearing before planning and zoning. It also extends the time required to hold a public hearing to 65 days after the receipt of an application and requires a hearing to end 35 days after it opens. A decision of approval or denial must be made 65 days after the close of the public hearing, which is known as the 65/35/65 day rule. Extensions may also be requested and granted by planning and zoning and the applicant.
 
By comparison, an administrative permit can be granted in one day and site plan approval in 65 days after receipt of an application.   
 
A special exception application also requires a more critical review by planning and zoning, as each application must be considered a special case and requires a public hearing and site plan submission showing information on location, traffic, parking, impact on property values, storm water, landscaping, power service, signage, landscaping, and hazardous materials. Planning and may also attach conditions to an approval.