Citizen's Handbook to Land Development

A Citizen's Handbook to Land Development
Town of Granby
Office of Community Development

Table of Contents

General Discussion

The Town of Granby has developed this guide to the process of land development to make the sometimes confusing process of land development more understandable to the general public. While those who regularly develop land in Granby know and understand the process, we felt it was necessary to present to the ordinary citizen, or the one-time developer, a guidebook to help with this process.

The following is a general outline of land use regulations, and the boards and commissions that enforce these regulations. We hope this information will help those of you in the general public understand what it is we do and how and why your land use regulations function.

The Town of Granby has several land use boards and commissions whose job it is to oversee the development of the town. To guide these commissions in their decision-making the town uses several documents:

The Plan of Conservation and Development:
This document outlines a general plan to follow in making land use decisions. It is updated every ten years in order to reflect the changing conditions in the Town and Region. The Plan was last adopted in 1993 and is currently under study. The updated Plan should be adopted in 2004.

The Zoning Regulations:
These regulations have the force of law and set the "rules" of land development. The Zoning Regulations are continuously reviewed and updated as necessary to meet the needs of the community.

The Subdivision Regulations:
These regulations govern the creation of new building lots. The Subdivision Regulations are used along with the Zoning Regulations to guide development in the Town. Included in these regulations are the engineering standards for land development and the preservation of open space.

Inland Wetlands and Water Courses Regulations:
These regulations were adopted to implement State Statutes and regulate what can be done in and around wetland areas.

State Building Code:
The State has adopted nationally recognized standards to ensure that buildings are constructed in a safe and sound manner.

State Health Code:
This code is intended to ensure the public health of the State of Connecticut. It applies to a wide variety of situations, but relates to land development primarily through the design and installation of wells and septic systems.

The principal land use commissions in Granby are the Planning and Zoning Commission, the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission. The Planning and Zoning Commission is the primary authority on land use decisions. Through the Zoning Regulations, Subdivision Regulations and the Plan of Conservation and Development, this commission ensures that all land use is in compliance with established rules and procedures. The Zoning Board of Appeals decides if requests for variances (explained below), to the Zoning Regulations should be granted and the Inland Wetland and Watercourses Commission reviews all applications in which there are either legally defined wetlands or other bodies of water on the property to be developed.

This Citizen's Guide will hopefully answer questions relative to items 1-6 above. Other questions should be directed to the Director of community Development or Building Official.

Back to the Top

Building Permits

You will need a building permit to make improvements to your property including, but not limited to the following:

  • Construction of a new house.
  • Construction of a building addition.
  • Construction of a deck.
  • Construction of a garage.
  • Installation of a swimming pool, built in or above-ground.
  • Construction or installation of any outbuilding.
  • Any improvement that requires the installation or movement of mechanical, electrical, heating or plumbing equipment or components.
  • Installation of a new roof.
  • Installation of aluminum or vinyl siding.

The following improvements would not require a building permit:

  • Painting or wallpapering
  • Construction of a patio if at ground level
  • Installation of a fence

How much does it cost?
It costs $16.00 for each $1,000 of value. For instance, a new garage costing $10,000 would have a building permit fee of $160.  

Who does the inspection?
The Town's Building Official will ensure that all construction complies with the current building standards. It is the obligation of the property owner to call the Town of Granby Building Department at (860) 844-5318 to schedule the inspection.

What is a certificate of occupancy, when do I need one and how do I get one?
It is a violation of the Building code to occupy a building that does not have a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). This document certifies that a building is fit to be occupied and that it meets the minimum requirements of the building code and the zoning regulations. You need a CO when you are moving into a new, or renovated building. The Building Department will conduct an inspection to determine compliance with the building code and all other applicable regulations. If the building meets the minimum requirements of the code, you will be issued a CO. The Building Department may, under special circumstances, grant a CO if weather conditions prohibit the completion of all the site work if a cash bond is posted to guarantee that the work will be done.

Can the homeowner do the construction work?
Yes, the homeowner can do all the work, providing the work complies with the building code. However, a licensed professional is required to undertake such activities as plumbing, heating and electrical work on all structures other than the work that the homeowner does on his/her individual residence.

Back to the Top

Septic Systems

How do I know if a lot has public sewer or water available?
Public water is provided by the Salmon Brook Water District and The Aquarion Water Company. In general, the Salmon Brook Water District serves the Granby Center area and the Aquarion Water Company serves the area of south Salmon Brook Street and Canton Road.

Public sewer is offered by the Town of Granby, Water Pollution Control. The Town provides the sewer lines only, which discharge into the Simsbury sewer treatment facility. Sewer is available around the Granby Center area and along Salmon Brook Street, south to Simsbury.

What is a "perc test"?
A "perc test" is used to determine the suitability of a lot for the installation of an on-site septic system. The term "perc test" has a specific meaning in the Connecticut Public Health Code. They are commonly referred to by real estate agents and lending institutions as soil testing. Soil Testing refers to these two different types of tests:

Deep Test Pit: This type of test determines how deep into the ground the system can be placed. Test pits are dug with a backhoe to a minimum depth of seven feet where possible. Several test pits are usually dug on a given lot to determine its suitability for a septic system. Test pits are dug in the primary septic area, the area where the septic system is planned to be installed and in the reserve area. This testing reveals the best placement for a septic system.

The Perc Test: The purpose of this test is to determine the ability of the soil to handle sewage wastewater when the soil is saturated. The results of this test are used to determine the size of the leaching system needed to accommodate the home or business that is planned. To conduct this test a hole is dug by hand, usually with a post-hole digger or a hand shovel, to an average depth of 36 inches and a width of 10 inches depending upon the results of the Deep Test Pit. At least two perc tests are required, one in the primary area and one in the reserve area. Water is poured into the test pit. The rate the water percolates into the soil determines how large the leaching field must be.

Who conducts the soil testing to determine if a septic system is feasible?
The testing is typically done by a licensed professional engineer with the Farmington Valley Health District present. The results of the soil testing may reveal that an engineer designed septic system is required. Also, the Office of Community Development may have on record in the lot's subdivision file, information that states that the septic system must be engineer designed. In either case, the owner or prospective buyer of a property will need to contact a professional engineer for the soil testing, which must be done in conjunction with the Farmington Valley Health District.

Back to the Top

MORE TO COME