Executive Orders in Connecticut Suspend and Modify Public Hearing Procedures
Governor Lamont has issued two Executive Orders relating to public agency meetings, Executive Order 7B, which allows public agency meetings to be held by video conference or conference call, and Executive Order 71, which suspends and modifies notice procedures, deadline requirements and filing requirements.
Executive Order 7B suspends the Freedom of Information Act requirement that public agencies conduct meetings in person and allow in-person public access to their proceedings, and allows public meetings to be held by conference call, videoconference or other technology, so long as:
- The public can view or listen to each meeting in real time using telephone, video or other technology;
- The hearing or meeting is recorded or transcribed, and such recording or transcript is required to be posted on the agency’s website within seven (7) days of the hearing and must be available within a reasonable time in the agency’s office;
- The required notice and agenda is posted for each hearing/meeting on the agency’s website and includes information about how the meeting will be conducted and how the public can access it;
- Any materials relevant to matters on the agenda shall be submitted to the agency at least 24 hours prior and posted to the agency’s website for public review prior to, during and after the meeting; and
- All speakers taking part in any such meeting or hearing shall clearly state their name and title before speaking on each occasion.
Section 19 of Executive Order 71 applies to any process, review, hearing, discussion, decision or appeal of any municipal decision or action regarding any petition, application or other proposal under specifically referenced sections of Connecticut’s General Statutes (collectively referred to herein as the “Covered Laws”), including Connecticut’s Zoning Act set forth under Connecticut General Statute Chapter 124, which this alert focuses on.
Some of the key changes are as follows:
- Deadline Extensions: Deadlines that may pass or expire during the state of emergency regarding the commencement or completion of any public hearings and issuance of decisions are suspended and modified. Deadlines are extended by one (1) additional period of 90 days, in addition to extensions that are already expressly allowed by the Covered Laws (for example if a statute already allows for a 65 day extension, it may be further extended by no more than an additional 90 days, for a total of 155 extension days).
- Notices: Any Covered Law requiring the municipality to publish notice in the newspaper or in the clerk’s office, or that requires a physical sign to be posted, is suspended and modified to require a notice to be published electronically on a municipality’s or agency’s website. Notices must comply with applicable noticing time periods and shall remain visible on the municipality’s or agency’s website until completion of the matter and for any notice of decision, for the duration of the applicable appeal period.
- Mailing Notices: Any Covered Law requiring notice to be sent by mail shall be suspended and modified to permit (i) email notifications if the email address is known, (ii) posting of a sign at least 2′ x 3’ in a prominent location on the property, or (iii) mailing of letters (regular US mail) to addressees provided by the municipality.
- Appeals: The process of an appeal of a decision by a zoning enforcement officer or inland wetland agency shall be modified to permit any appeal by regular mail or email to the applicable agency or board. The period to commence any such appeal remains unchanged.
 Section 19 of Executive Order 71 applies to Conn. Gen. Stat Chapters 14, 97a, 98, 103, 124, 126, 246, 386k, 449, 444, 446i and the repealed Section 14-55, if and to the extent such repealed section is revived by current judicial action and any related special acts, charter, ordinance, resolution or regulation.
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