Wetlands agent, zoning officer discuss springtime permits

With warmer weather in sight, Ridgefield is rapidly approaching the time of year where homeowners and businesses start making plans for outdoor landscaping projects, home improvements, and property repairs.  

While it is recognized that owners wish to enhance their properties, it is also necessary that the property enhancements cause no harm to the environment.

Inland Wetlands Agent Beth Peyser and Zoning Enforcement Officer Richard Baldelli believe that by having the property owners and the town working together, property enhancements can be accomplished without having a negative environmental impact.

There are unique landscape attributes within the Town of Ridgefield that include a wide variety of inland wetlands, ponds, brooks, streams, rivers, and lakes. These natural resources are regulated and monitored by the Town of Ridgefield through the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Regulations (IWWR).  These IWWR regulations, in addition to regulating activities within the wetlands and watercourses, also contain “upland review areas” from wetlands, waterbodies, or watercourses.  The upland review area is a regulated zone beyond the edge of the wetlands and watercourses.  A property owner may conduct a landscaping project, home improvement or property repair within this “upland review area” only after an Inland Wetlands Application has been submitted and approved and a Wetlands Permit has been issued. Any earth disturbance within the upland review area, wetland, waterbody, or watercourse is a regulated activity.

Examples of regulated activities are: filling, grading, installation of walls, patios, parking area, etc.  

Flood hazard area

In addition to wetlands and watercourses, there is a substantial amount of floodplain that is designated as Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA).  

Pursuant to the delegation from the State of Connecticut and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Planning and Zoning Commission regulates these areas to aid in preventing damage from floods. The Town of Ridgefield Zoning Regulations have been amended and updated according to these Floodplain Management Regulations.  

The Floodplain Management Regulations require a Site Plan Approval for Floodplain Development for any development activity performed within a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). A Floodplain development is defined as: any manmade change to improved or unimproved real estate, including but not limited to: filling, grading, paving, excavation, construction, structures within a floodplain, etc.  

Under almost no circumstances will a development activity that would result in an increase in flood level, or act as an impediment within the SFHA, be permitted.

In May 2016, the Planning and Zoning Commission adopted Drainage Requirements and Stormwater Management Regulations. These regulations may be applicable to a site improvement that includes the installation of any new impervious surfaces — patios, decks, pools, etc. The regulations may also be applied to excavation, filling or grading, including minor improvements to property.

Peyser and Baldelli are requesting that anyone, with any questions regarding a property enhancement activity, within or near a lakeside community, wetland, waterbody, or watercourse, or if resident have any questions regarding what is an inland wetland, waterbody, watercourse, or floodplain, contact them.

Peyser can be reached at wetlands@ridgefieldct.org or by calling 203-431-2383. Richard Baldelli’s can be reached at zoning@ridgefieldct.org or by calling 203-431-2768.