Frequently Asked Questions


How are Inland Wetlands and Watercourses defined?

According to CTDEEP, wetlands and watercourses are typically identified using the familiar terms marsh, swamp, river, brook, pond or lake. However, the CT Inland Wetlands and Watercourse Act (Act) defines inland wetlands by soil type. The soil types are poorly drained, very poorly drained, alluvial, and floodplain.

Identifying inland wetlands by soils allows us to recognize those areas when there may be no surface water present such as during times of drought, during dry seasons, or during winter when characteristic wetland indicator plants may not be obvious.

Additionally inland wetlands may not always appear wet. For example, all floodplain soils are considered inland wetlands regardless of drainage class and some floodplain soils can be quite dry.
CTDEEP Inland Wetlands and Watercourses. 

The CTDEEP web site has extensive information and definitions which can be found here:

What's the definition of an Upland Review Area?
 An upland review area (URA) is defined by local regulation as land within 100 feet, measured horizontally, from the boundary of any wetland, or top of bank of any watercourse.
Where can I hire a soil scientist?
A list of soil scientists can be found on the Society of Soil Scientist of Southern New England website. 
How much does the application fee cost?
                                                   Inland Wetland Fee Schedule

Residential use means activities carried out on property developed for permanent housing or being developed to be occupied by permanent housing.

Commercial and industrial uses means activities carried out on property developed for industry, commerce, trade, recreation or business or being developed to be occupied for such purposes, for profit or nonprofit.

Other uses means activities other than residential, commercial or other industrial uses.

Permitted uses as of right                                                                                                $0.00
No regulated uses                                                                                                                 $35.00


Residential Uses
Single Lot                                                                                                                                    $125.00
Proposed Subdivisions                                                                                                       $250.00
Plus either $5.00 per 5,000 Sq. Ft. or wetlands on property or $50.00 per each proposed lot (whichever is greater)

Commercial and Industrial Uses
$250.00 plus either $0 for less than 2,500 Sq. Ft. regulated area
$25.00/acre for 2,500 Sq. Ft. regulated area and over

All other uses                                                                                                          $150.00
Significant Activity Fee/ Public Hearing Fee                                        $350.00
Map Amendment Petitions                                                                            $200.00 plus

Modification of Previous Approval                                                            $100.00
                                                                                                                                         (Permit Approval)

Transferal of an Existing Permit                                                                   $50.00

No application shall be granted or approved by the Conservation Commission/ Inland Wetland Agency unless the correct application fee is paid in full or unless a waiver has been granted by the Conservation Commission/ Inland Wetland Agency pursuant to subsection 4.14 of the Town Fee Ordinance #09-20-94-134.
Do I need a zoning permit if I have a wetlands permit?
Yes. The zoning permit and wetlands permit both deal with different regulations, and can not be substituted for each other. 
Do I need to notify my neighbors when applying for a wetlands permit?
Neighbors are only required to be notified if the inland wetlands commission holds a public hearing on the property.
Do I need the property owner's signature on the application?
Yes, the owners signature must be on the application in order to ensure that it is the property owners decision as well as to make the document legally binding.
What do I need to include with my application?
The list of what to include in your application can be found on page 14 section 7 Application Requirements on the Inland Wetlands regulations.
Can members of the public come to a site-walk with the commission?
Yes, as site-walks are a form of public meeting members of the public are allowed to attend.
Where can I find the wetlands regulations?
Regulations for wetlands can be found on the town's website under planning and zoning, inland wetlands, regulations.
When is a public hearing held on a CCIWA application?
There are 3 situations in which a public hearing is held,
  1. If the commission determines that the proposed activity is a significant activity (see definition for "significant impact" in the Watertown CCIWA regulations.
  2. If the commission receives a petition with 25 or more signatures to hold a public hearing.
  3. If the commission determines that it is in the best interest of the public to hold a hearing.
What is a significant activity?
A significant activity other wise known as "significant impact" is any activity, including but not limited to, the following activities which have a major effect:
  1. Any activity involving deposition or removal of material which will or may have a substantial effect on the wetland or watercourse or on wetlands or watercourses outside the area for which the activity is proposed.
  2. Any activity which substantially changes the natural channel or may inhibit the natural dynamics of a watercourse system.
  3. Any activity which substantially diminishes the natural capacity of an inland wetland or watercourse to: support aquatic, plant  or animal life and habitats; prevent flooding; supply water; assimilate waste; facilitate drainage; provide recreation or open space; or perform other functions.
  4. Any activity which is likely to cause or has the potential to cause substantial turbidity, siltation or sedimentation in a wetland or watercourse.
  5. Any activity which causes substantial diminution of flow of a natural watercourse or groundwater levels of the wetland or watercourse.
  6. Any activity which is likely to cause or has the potential to cause pollution of a wetland or watercourse.
  7. Any activity which damages or destroys unique wetland or watercourse areas or such areas having demonstrable scientific or educational value.
This list was taken from the Watertown CCIWA regulations on page 9.
How long is a permit valid for?
A CCIWA permit is valid for 5 years, but applicants can ask for time extensions through the wetlands commission.
Who needs to attend the inland wetlands meeting?
The applicant or legal representative must attend the meeting.


Can I have chickens on my property?
For less than 20 chickens (or similar poultry) with no roosters, they may be on lots smaller than 5 acres, only if kept in a building conforming to the principal dwelling setbacks which can be found in the Citizens Guide to Land Use. For over 20 chickens (or similar poultry) including roosters, they must be located on a lot of 5 acres or more with their dwelling being 100ft from property lines and 60ft from the road. 
What are the steps to building a single family house?
The checklist for building a single family house can be found here.
What and where is the Watertown Historic District?
It is the overlay district used to protect the area's outstanding historic value and architectural beauty, where in any demolition or architectural alteration that would be visible from a public street must be approved by the Historic Commission.
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For more information please consult the Watertown Historic District Regulation and Rules of Procedure.
What zone is my property in?

To find what zone your property is in you can go to the towns assessors website and input your property address. You can also find your zone by looking at the Watertown Zoning map and finding your property on it.

What are the setbacks for construction?
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What is the application fee?
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Where can I find the town's zoning regulations?
The Town of Watertown's zoning regulations can be found on the town website under the Regulations and Plans section of the Planning and Zoning Department.
Is my property serviced by septic or city sewer?
To know if your property is connected to city sewer or a septic system please contact the Torrington Area Health District at (860) 496-8243, for more information on the TAHD please go to their website at
Do you have a survey of my property?
The town will have a survey only if it was filed with either the PZ or TC office. If not you must contact a surveyor to create a new survey.  In order to know if planning and zoning has a survey please call and let us know your property address, or lot number. If planning and zoning does not have your survey it is possible the town clerk has it.
Where can I get a copy of the deed to my property?

Property deeds can be found at the town clerk’s office, which can make copies for a small fee.

What's the difference between an in-law apartment and a duplex?

An in-law apartment other wise known as an accessory dwelling unit has a separate entrance and exit, kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping facilities, that is
(1) physically
attached to or contained within an existing single-family house or
(2) occupies the
second story of an existing garage or accessory building on the same lot as the principal dwelling.
A duplex on the other hand is considered a two single-family dwelling unit which is connected by an unpierced wall extending from basement to roof. Accessory dwelling units are allowed in all residential zones, while duplexes are only allowed in R-20, R-10, and R-G or in R-30 R-12.5 by special permit.

Do I need a foundation as-built, or a final as-built?
Yes, if you are building anything that needs a foundation.
The foundation as built is to be done after the completion of the foundation, while the final as-built is to be given once the entire building is finished, and before it is allowed to be occupied. A copy of the foundation as-built and final as-built should be given to the planning and zoning department, as well as the building department.
What do I need to install solar panels?
The primary approval needed for solar panels is generated by the Building Department. Usually your solar contractor submits and obtains all necessary permits.
For Contractors: We will require a separate zoning application in conjunction with the building application. You can submit both simultaneously for review. If the panels are roof mounted the zoning review is cursory but needed for the building permit. The zoning fee is calculated on a sliding scale based upon the cost of the project. For the building department you will need to provide engineered specifications along with the application, a building fee will also be calculated with a sliding scale based on project cost. Once the installation is completed and approved, the building official will inspect and provide a final approval prior to allowing the solar panels to be activated.
(Future applications may be available online)


What is the ZBA?
The Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) is an appeals aboard which is used if an error was made in the decisions of the zoning official or enforcement of chapters or bylaws. It is also used to decide upon variances of properties that meet hardships not allowing them to meet certain standards that other properties would.
What is a hardship?
Hardships are circumstances or conditions which do not generally apply to other lots or structures in the area, these hardships make it so certain standards can not be met, hardships can not be a result of a willful act of the applicant. 
How long does it take to get a variance?
Once the zoning board of appeals accepts an application, depending on if the commission wished to see the property and type of variance, it can take from 1 to 3 months to receive a variance. Average time for review is between 30 to 90 days.
What do I have to include with my application to ZBA?
A checklist for what is needed can be found on page 6 of the zoning board of appeals application.
How long is a variance valid?
Once a variance is recorded with the town clerk's office the variance stays with the property forever.
What is the application fee?
The application fee for the zoning board of appeals is $310 which includes a $60 state fee and the cost of three legal notices which will be published in the local news papers.