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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are watercourses and wetlands?
Watercourses are defined as rivers, streams, brooks, waterways, lakes, ponds, marshes, swamps, bogs and all other bodies of water, natural or artificial, vernal or intermittent, public or private.
Wetlands means land which consists of any of the soil types designated as poorly drained, very poorly drained, alluvial and floodplain by the National Cooperative Soils Survey. This may include filled, graded or excavated sites as well as wetlands which may not be wet year-round.

Q: Why are wetlands important?
We depend on wetlands for:

  • Water quality protection
  • Water recharge to aquifers
  • Flood and drought protection
  • Shoreline anchoring and stabilization
  • Sediment trapping and nutrient retention
  • Fish and wildlife habitat
  • Nursery grounds for fish and nutrients essential to animals
  • Release of oxygen through photosynthesis
  • Transforming air pollutant
  • Active and passive recreation

Q: Who regulates activities affecting wetlands and watercourses?
Regulatory standards are set by the State of Connecticut. Local administration of the regulations is the responsibility of the Commission.  Fresh water wetlands may also be regulated by the US Army Corps of Engineers and the CT DEEP (Department of Energy & Environmental Protection).

Q: How do I know if there are wetlands on my property?
Wetlands are determined by soil type and not always possible to identify by sight.  The Wetlands Enforcement Officer may be able to advise you from a review of maps and records.  If wetlands exist on your property, any work planned may require a permit, even if the work site is a considerable distance from the wetlands.

Q: Which activities need a permit?
Many activities within 200 feet of Candlewood Lake, the East or West Aspetuck River, the Still River, the Housatonic River, watercourses within the West Aspetuck River watershed and within 100 feet of any other watercourse or wetland require a permit.  These activities may include but are not limited to: 

  • Disturbing the ground by removing or depositing material for any construction (new, addition, repair, septic system)
  • Installing a structure on or above the surface such as a residence, deck, pool or shed
  • Putting in a driveway
  • Dredging a pond
  • Landscaping or maintenance in which material is removed or deposited or water is diverted or altered in or from a wetland or watercourse

For any work proposed on or around Candlewood Lake our office suggests contacting FirstLight Power Resources to ensure that they do not have additional paperwork to be completed.

Q: What can I do without a permit?

  • Grazing, farming, nurseries, gardening, harvesting of crops and farm ponds up to three acres which are essential to farming operations
  • Boat anchorage or mooring
  • Maintenance of residential property without removing or depositing material or diverting water
  • Outdoor recreation activities such as playing fields, golf courses, hiking trails, camping, hunting, fishing, horseback riding, skiing and water sports as long as they do not disturb, alter, obstruct or pollute the wetland or watercourse.

Q: How do I obtain a permit?
Permits are approved by the Inland Wetlands Commission.  An online Schedule A or Schedule B application will need to be completed and any required or additional information (site plans, landscaping plans, drainage report, etc.) will need to be uploaded to the online application and 12 hardcopies (1 original and 11 copies) should be submitted to the Inland Wetlands office. 
Any disturbance within 100 ft of a wetlands & watercourse or 200 ft of the Candlewood Lake, the East or West Aspetuck River, the Still River and watercourses within the West Aspetuck River watershed will required an individual Inland Wetlands permit.

Q: Do I need professional help for my project?
The Wetlands Enforcement Officer can help you determine if your project requires professional help. It may be necessary to hire a certified soil scientist to flag the boundary of the wetlands on your property.  It may also be necessary to obtain a land or topographical survey of the property.  If your application is for minor activities, you may be able to prepare the application drawing yourself.  If complex, you may wish to engage the services of a professional engineer, architect or landscape architect to prepare the drawing.

Q: What happens after I submit my Inland Wetlands application?
Once a completed application is submitted to the Inland Wetlands office it will be placed on the agenda and will be reviewed by the Inland Wetlands Commission at their meeting. 
The Commission consists of seven members and three alternates, all volunteers and appointed by the Town Council, who serve four year terms.  The Commission meets on the second Thursday of the month at 7:00 p.m, unless otherwise noted.  Agendas are posted 24 hours prior to a meeting and can be found in the Town Clerks or online.

Q: What will happen at the Inland Wetlands meeting?
The application is reviewed and, after receiving comments from the public, the Inland Wetlands Commission will render a decision on the application.  An applicant may wish to be present at the meeting to answer questions that the Commission may have.  Once the application has been reviewed, you should receive the written decision within two weeks.  In some cases where a potentially significant impact is perceived by the Commission or the public, a public hearing will be scheduled to allow for a more in-depth review.  Please note that individual Commission members cannot discuss the merits of your application during the review process.

Q: Will the Inland Wetlands Commission set conditions for granting a permit?
Yes.  There are standards and special conditions such as requirements for erosion and sedimentation control or a notice to the Town’s land records stating wetlands exist.  A cash performance bond may also be required to notify the Commission of work being started.  It is the applicants responsibility to ensure that the contractor understands all of the conditions of the permit.

Q: What are the fees associated with an Inland Wetlands permit?
The state charges a one-time application fee of $60.00 (or such as the state amends).  All other fees are set annually by the Inland Wetlands Commission and fee schedules are available online or in the Inland Wetlands office.  The fees required by a soils scientist, engineer, architect or landscape architect will depend upon the size and complexity of the work being proposed.

Q: What can I do if I see a violation?
Call the Inland Wetlands Office and speak with the Wetlands Enforcement Officer.  Detailed information, including the address and the activity, is appreciated.  An Inland Wetlands Complaint form can be completed and submitted to the Inland Wetlands office.  Complaint forms are available online or in the Inland Wetlands office.