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Land Use and Building Permit Deadlines Stayed by Executive Order

May 7, 2020

On May 6, 2020, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont provided a temporary pause on permit deadlines when he issued Executive Order 7JJ. Section 3 of the order tolls, for the duration of the state of emergency, all approvals or permits that were valid as of March 10, 2020 and issued by a municipal land use agency or official pursuant to the “Covered Laws,” which are defined in a prior order, or by a municipal building official. The “Covered Laws” include various land use-related provisions of the General Statutes governing subdivision, zoning (such as site plans), inland wetlands, coastal management, sewer system and aquifer protection approvals, among others.

Under the order, land use approvals and building permits will not lapse during the state of emergency, and their expiration dates are tolled during that period. The state of emergency remains in effect through September 9, 2020 unless terminated earlier by the Governor. As such, the order adds six months onto a permit deadline, not unlike the action by the legislature to add four years to site plan and subdivision approvals in 2011.

The tolling provision only applies if the permit holder was not in violation of their permit as of March 10, 2020 and does not violate it during the state of emergency. However, the order also provides municipal officials with the authority to waive terms and conditions of a permit if the holder is unable to abide by them as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic or protective measures taken in response to it. Such waivers “shall not be unreasonably withheld.”

This order is important for municipalities and property owners alike because it will allow for an orderly resumption or continuation of construction activity. No property owner will lose the value of their approval or need to pay another building permit fee because of COVID-19, nor will they feel pressured to restart construction before it is safe to do so. In this way, the order promotes both economic development and public health.

If you have a land use or building permit that was valid on March 10th, it will not expire during the state of emergency, so long as you proceed in compliance with it; but if it was close to expiration before that date, you should request an extension of the deadline very soon, if one is available. It is also important to watch for the date that the state of emergency lifts because your permit clock will start to run again the next day. If you are unable to comply with any conditions of your approval, we would suggest requesting, in writing, a waiver from the agency or official who granted your approval. Cooperating with local staff and documenting your efforts to do so will be particularly important.

We are here to help during this ever-evolving pandemic. If you have any questions regarding Executive Order 7JJ or any other issues, feel free to contact us.

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