9.3 Site Plan Application

9.3.A Purpose

A Site Plan is intended to provide the Commission with information that will enable it to determine that the proposed building, use or structure is consistent with the requirements of these Regulations.

9.3.B Applicability

  • Unless exempted by Section 9.3.B.2, a Site Plan application shall be submitted:
    • For any activity designated in the Regulations as requiring Site Plan approval.
    • For any activity designated in the Regulations as requiring Special Permit approval.
    • In a residential zone, for any construction, development, expansion, or major alteration of a multi-family use or any non-residential use.
    • In a non-residential zone, for any construction, development, expansion, or major alteration of any use including any alteration in site improvements such as parking, pedestrian or vehicle circulation, public utilities or reduction of landscaping.
  • Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 9.3.B.1, the following activities shall be exempt from the requirement to submit a formal Site Plan application (a Zoning Permit may still be required) provided that a plot plan drawn to scale is submitted to the City Planner and/or Zoning and Building Official showing any changes from existing conditions, such as new signs, revised parking arrangements and entrances, new lighting and similar alterations:
    • when the structure or use is existing and will not be enlarged.
    • when a change from a principal use to another principal use permitted by site plan approval does not require the enlargement of an existing building or structure or an increase in site improvements.
    • when off-street parking requirements for the new use are not more than those required for the existing use.
    • when the site is in the Industrial/Technology Zone or the Technology Campus zone and:
      • the use is permitted,
      • the use will not result in a structure over 10,000 square feet,
      • the use will not result in a structure over 25 feet in height, and
      • the site to be built upon does not abut or lie directly across the street from a residential zone. The term "site" for the purpose of this provision is defined as the area of disturbance to support the structure's construction and associated improvements and may be limited to a confined area of an overall property that may also abut or lie adjacent to or across the street from non-residential zones.
  • The City Planner may conduct the formal Site Plan application review for Principal Uses Permitted by Site Plan within a non-residential district and when not associated with a Coastal Area Management Zone and approve, condition, modify, or deny the application. The City Planner may refer any Site Plan application to the Commission in accordance with these regulations.
  • Modifications to an approved site plan shall be reviewed by the City Planner or Commission, as may be applicable, and are classified as either a minor or major using the guidelines outlined below.
    • Minor modifications are reviewed by the City Planner and generally meet the following:
      • The changes are required because of conditions that were unknown at the time the approval was issued and have only a de minimis impact;
      • The City Planner determines that the changes satisfy and are consistent with the intent of these regulations and the findings made by the decision-making body in connection with the approval and have only a de minimis impact; and
      • The changes involve, as applicable: a change in placement of a building or structure which is less than 5 feet away from the approved placement; the use of materials, components, features or materials (site or building) which do not adversely affect any prior design review decisions; a modification in site improvements that produces no additional negative environmental effects.
    • Major modifications exceed the above guidelines as determined by the City Planner and may require review by the Commission.

9.3.C Submission Requirements

  • A Site Plan application shall be submitted to the Commission or its agent and shall include a completed application form and the appropriate fee.
  • A Site Plan application shall be accompanied by detailed plans that conform to Appendix A and comply with the requirements of these Regulations, signed and sealed by an appropriate professional, for review by the Commission and its designees.
  • The Site Plan application and accompanying plans shall be submitted to the City Planner three weeks prior to any regularly scheduled meeting of the Commission.
  • In addition to paper copies of the application a PDF of the initial application and all subsequent revisions and supplemental materials shall be provided.
  • The Commission may, in accordance with the requirements of these Regulations, require the submission of additional information as deemed necessary to make a reasonable review of the application.
  • Site Plans will not be considered complete unless they contain all applicable information as required by these Regulations.

9.3.D Proceedings

  • The date of receipt for the Site Plan application shall be determined in accordance with Section 9.9.B.
  • An incomplete Site Plan application may be denied in accordance with Section 9.9.C.
  • If a Site Plan application involves an activity regulated pursuant to CGS Section 22a-36 to 22a-45, inclusive, the applicant shall submit an application for a permit to the Inland Wetlands Commission not later than the day such Site Plan application is filed with the Commission.
  • Notification by the Commission may be required to:
    • Adjoining municipalities in accordance with the requirements of Section 9.9.I.
    • Water companies in accordance with the requirements of Section 9.9.J.
    • The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) in accordance with the requirements of Section 9.9.K.
    • Whenever a Site Plan application is required in conjunction with another application requiring a public hearing (such as a Special Permit application or a Zone Change application):
      •  The time period for acting on the Site Plan application shall coincide with the time period for acting on the related application; and
      • A decision on the application shall be rendered within sixty-five days after the close of the public hearing on such other application except that the applicant may consent to one or more extensions of such period provided the total period of any such extension or extensions shall not exceed sixty-five days.
  • In accordance with CGS Section 8-7d, whenever approval of a Site Plan is the only approval required, a decision on the application shall be rendered within sixty-five (65) days after the date of receipt of such Site Plan application except that the applicant may consent to one or more extensions of such period provided the total period of any such extension or extensions shall not exceed sixty-five (65) days.
  • In accordance with CGS Section 8-7d, if an application involves an activity regulated pursuant to CGS Section 22a-36 to 22a-45, inclusive and the time for a decision by the Commission would elapse prior to the thirty-fifth (35th) day after a decision by the Inland Wetlands Commission, the time period for a decision shall be extended to thirty-five (35) days after the decision of such agency.
  • The Commission may hold a public informational meeting on a Site Plan application.
  • In accordance with CGS Section 8-3(g), a Site Plan shall be presumed approved unless a decision to deny or modify it is rendered within the applicable time period specified above.
  • The applicant may, at any time prior to action by the Commission, withdraw such application.
  • To assist with its consideration of an application for Site Plan approval, the Commission may refer the plan to any department, agency or official it deems appropriate, to review and comment upon those technical matters which are the concern or responsibility of such department, agency or official.
  • The Commission may require additional technical assistance in evaluating an application, the expense of which is to be paid by the applicant as set forth in City Ordinance.
  • If any modification of the Site Plan is made by the Commission as part of its approval, revised copies of the Site Plan reflecting such modification shall be submitted to, and approved by, the City Planner prior to the issuance of any Zoning / Building Permit relating to the application.

9.3.E Considerations

  • On a Site Plan application involving an activity regulated pursuant to CGS Section 22a-36 to 22a-45, inclusive, the Commission shall:
    • Wait to render its decision until the Inland Wetlands Commission has submitted a report with its final decision; and
    • Give due consideration to any report of the Inland Wetlands Commission when making its decision.
  • On a Site Plan application involving notice to other agencies, the Commission shall give due consideration to any report or testimony received.
  • On a Site Plan application involving new construction or remodeling of the exterior of a building within an area designated within these Regulations as a "village district" in accordance with CGS Section 8-2j, the Commission shall give due consideration to any report or testimony received from the village district consultant.
  • Before the Commission approves a Site Plan application, it shall determine that the application is in conformance with these Regulations.
  • The Commission shall not approve any Site Plan for any property on which there exists a zoning violation, unless such Site Plan application will remedy such violation.
  • The Commission may require, as a condition of approval, such modifications of the proposed plans as it deems necessary to ensure that structures and the uses of land area arranged in a manner that protects the public health, safety and general welfare.
  • In cases where the development of the property is proposed to be undertaken in phases, the Commission may grant Site Plan approval limited to each phase of development. Each phase shall be capable of independent existence without the completion of succeeding phases.
  • As a condition of approval of a Site Plan, the Commission may require:
    • Submission of a passbook savings account, a statement savings account, or similar cash equivalent to guaranty the installation and performance of erosion and sediment control measures at the site.
    • A performance guaranty in accordance with Section 9.9.L of these Regulations in an amount and in a form satisfactory to the Commission to guaranty satisfactory completion of drainage facilities, parking and access facilities, buffer strips and any other site improvements other than buildings.
  • When a performance guaranty is required by the Commission:
    • The applicant shall provide a cost estimate of improvements to be guaranteed, together with a description of the basis for the estimate.
    • The performance guaranty shall become effective prior to issuance of a building permit or prior to the commencement of site work, whichever comes first, and shall stay in effect until the Site Plan is 100% complete.

9.3.F Action Documentation

  • The Planning and Zoning Commission shall approve, modify and approve, or disapprove a Site Plan.
  • Whenever it grants or denies a Site Plan application, the Commission shall state upon its record the reason(s) for its decision. Commission disapproval shall include written findings upon any Site Plan element found contrary to the provisions or intent of these Regulations.
  • The Commission shall send, by certified mail, a copy of any decision to the applicant within fifteen (15) days after such decision is rendered.
  • The Commission shall cause notice of the approval or denial of a Site Plan to be published in a newspaper having a substantial circulation in Groton within fifteen (15) days after such decision is rendered and, in any case where such notice is not published by the Commission, the person who submitted such plan may provide for the publication of such notice within ten days thereafter.
  • On any application for which the period for approval has expired and on which no action has been taken, the Commission shall send a letter of approval to the applicant within fifteen (15) days of the date on which the period for approval expired and such letter of approval shall state the date on which the five-year completion period, as set forth in Section 9.3.H below, expires.

9.3.G Following Approval

  • Following approval of a Site Plan application and expiration of the appeal period, one "mylar" copy and four paper copies of each approved plan shall, unless waived by the Commission, be submitted to the City Planner for signature by the Chairman:
    • Each such plan shall bear the seal and signature of the appropriate professional(s) which prepared the drawing;
    • Each such plan shall contain a signature block where the Chairman of the Commission can indicate the approval of the Commission and state the date on which the five-year period for completing all work in connection with such Site Plan, as set forth in Section 9.3.H below, expires; and
    • At least one sheet shall bear a copy of the decision letter of the Commission and any other town regulatory agencies authorizing the activity.
  • Such plans shall be so filed before any Zoning / Building Permit is issued for the activities shown on the approved plan.
  • Within an area designated within these Regulations as a "village district" in accordance with CGS Section 8-2j (such as the Waterfront Business Residence District), no approval shall be effective until a copy thereof, certified by the Commission, containing the name of the owner of record, a description of the premises to which it relates and specifying the reason(s) for its decision, is recorded by the applicant in the land records, indexed in the grantor's index under the name of the record owner.
  • All site improvements shall be carried out in strict compliance with the Site Plan approved by the Commission. Minor amendments to the approved Site Plan may be approved only in writing by the City Planner upon the written request of the applicant. All other amendments or modifications to the Site Plan shall require the approval of the Commission.
  • All conditions and improvements shown on the approved Site Plan shall continue in force as long as the use indicated on the approved Site Plan shall be in operation, regardless of any change in ownership of the property.
  • When a performance guaranty has been provided, the performance guaranty shall be held by the Commission and the Commission shall not release the performance guaranty until it has determined that all of the improvements subject to the guaranty have been satisfactorily completed.
  • The Commission may require an "as built" A-2 survey of the lot showing the location of the buildings and improvements to determine compliance with the approved Site Plan.

9.3.H Expiration & Completion

  • Unless otherwise provided in CGS Section 8-3, all work in connection with a Site Plan shall be completed within five years after the date of approval of the Site Plan and failure to complete all work within such five-year period shall result in automatic expiration of the approval of such Site Plan unless the Commission shall have granted an extension of the time to complete such work.
  • Provided the applicant has requested an extension prior to the expiration of the completion period, the Commission may grant one or more extensions of the time to complete all or part of the work in connection with the Site Plan provided the total extension or extensions shall not exceed ten years from the date of approval of such Site Plan unless otherwise provided in CGS Section 8-3.
  • The Commission may condition the approval of such extension on a determination of the adequacy of any performance guaranty in accordance with Section 9.9.L or other surety.