Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the Coastal Permitting Process

Who Must Apply For a Coastal Permit?

Any person, as defined by Connecticut General Statutes ("CGS") Section 22a-2(b), who is proposing to carry out any regulated activity in the tidal wetlands, or in tidal, coastal, or navigable waters of the state. This includes the Connecticut River beginning at the Massachusetts border south to Long Island Sound.

What Activities Require a Permit?
Activities include but are not limited to:
  • The erection of structures including, but not limited to: breakwaters, docks, pilings, booms, marine railways, culverts, floats, jetties, ramps, utility lines/cables, roadways, walkways, buildings, decks, etc.;
  • Dredging for the purposes of maintaining existing channels, turning basins, vessel berths, mooring areas and other waterfront facilities;
  • The erection of shoreline flood and erosion control or stabilization structures such as riprap, seawalls, bulkheads, and tide gates;
  • The placement of any obstacle, obstruction or encroachment;
  • Maintenance or repair of certain existing structures, fill, obstructions, or encroachments;
  • All work incidental to any of the above activities including: any structure, activity, construction, or site preparation; grading, excavating, dredging, disposing of dredged materials, filling, etc.; the removal of vegetation or other material, or other modification of a site, waterward of the high tide line;
  • Draining, dredging, excavating, or removing of soil, mud, sand, gravel, aggregate of any kind or rubbish from any tidal wetland or tidal pond;
  • Dumping, filling or depositing upon tidal wetlands or in a tidal pond any soil, stones, sand, gravel, mud, aggregate of any kind, rubbish or similar material, either directly or otherwise; and,
  • Erecting structures, driving pilings, or placing obstructions in tidal wetlands or tidal waterbodies.
What Types of Permits are required for such activities?
Certificates of Permission

Minor activities related to previously authorized work may be eligible for a Certificate of Permission (COP). These activities include maintenance dredging and substantial maintenance of existing authorized or pre-1939 structures. In some cases, maintenance of unauthorized activities that were completed prior to specific dates may also be eligible for a COP. A decision on a COP is made within 45 days, or within 90 days if the application is incomplete, and additional information is received to complete the review process.

General Permits

General Permits are issued to authorize similar minor activities by one or more applicants. Authorization of an activity under a general permit is governed by that general permit. Coastal General Permits offered by the DEEP are as follows: 4/40 docks, Harbor Moorings, Non-Harbor Moorings, Osprey Platforms and Perch Poles, Residential Flood Hazard Mitigation, Buoys or Markers, Swim Floats, Pump-Out Facilities, Coastal Remedial Activities Required by Order, Maintenance of Catch Basins and Tide Gates, Removal of Derelict Structures, Beach Grading, Marina & Mooring Field Reconfiguration, and Minor Seawall Repair. General Permits are typically issued within 90 days if a complete application is received and the project is deemed eligible.

Structures, Dredging and Fill, and Tidal Wetland Permits ("Individual Permits")

Activities that are not eligible for authorization under a General Permit or for a Certificate of Permission require an "individual" permit specific to the proposed work. These activities typically include new construction and other work for which a detailed review of potential environmental, public trust and navigational impacts is needed. The review process for an individual permit provides an opportunity for public comment. The processing timeframe of Individual permit applications contingent on the size, complexity and scope of the project and completeness of application materials submitted.

What are the application fees associated with each permit?

The LWRD License Application Transmittal Form lists the fee requirements for:

Structures, Dredging and Fill and Tidal Wetlands Permit Applications*
*Besides the minimum application fee, additional fees are assessed based upon the surface area of the project.
Certificates of Permission Applications
General Permit Applications
How does the application review process work?

Upon receipt of the application package and initial application fee, a preliminary review of the application is conducted for sufficiency and general consistency with applicable standards and criteria. For an individual permit application, the full application fee is then calculated and any balance due is billed. Once the application is deemed sufficient, a detailed technical review of the application is conducted to determine the extent of any adverse impacts. This review includes the consideration of feasible alternatives to the original proposal. If alternatives are available, the Land and Water Resources Division (LWRD) recommends authorization for only that alternative with the least adverse impact and/or the least encroachment waterward of the coastal jurisdiction line. Upon completion of this technical review, a tentative determination to approve or deny an individual permit application is made by the Commissioner. A Notice of Tentative Determination is published in a newspaper having general circulation in the affected area and public comments will be solicited on the tentative determination. In some cases, a public hearing may be held. After completion of the technical review (and after consideration of any public comments and subsequent to the close of any hearing for an individual permit application), DEEP will issue a final decision on the application.

If the project has the potential to impact any endangered or threatened species, or species of special concern, or their essential habitats, the application will require additional review by DEEP's Natural Diversity Data Base program. Also, any applicant for a federal Army Corps of Engineers permit for work which would result in the discharge of dredged, excavated, or fill material into the waters of the United States, including wetlands, may also be required to obtain a state Water Quality Certificate from DEEP.

See the Coastal Permitting Fact Sheet or contact LWRD staff for more information on the review process for applications.

Am I entitled to any size dock given the size of my boat?

No. A littoral property owner has a right to reasonable access from his/her property to navigable waters, but this right must be balanced against the state's regulatory responsibility to minimize environmental impacts and private encroachments into public trust lands and waters. Reasonable recreational access does not guarantee the right to dock or moor a vessel of a particular size at all times, weather conditions, or tides, or the right to construct a particular type of structure. These access rights do not consist of what the applicant would prefer, but rather what physical site constraints, regulatory policies, and public trust responsibilities will allow. It is the applicant who has the burden to demonstrate that the proposed activity complies with statutory and public trust criteria. To successfully pursue permission for greater than a minimum structure, the applicant must clearly justify the need for a more extensive encroachment and demonstrate there is no reasonable alternative to the proposal that would further minimize the encroachment into public trust waters and the adverse impacts to coastal resources and navigation. Review the Residential Dock Guidelines for more information.

What if I don't submit an application and conduct a regulated activity without proper state authorization?

Any work conducted in tidal wetlands or waterward of the coastal jurisdiction line in the tidal, coastal, or navigable waters of the State without proper authorization is a violation of State law and is subject to enforcement actions by the Department and the Office of the Attorney General. The DEEP may issue a notice of violation, a removal order, seek injunction, or take other legal action under CGS Chapters 439 and 446i. Additionally, civil penalties of up to $1,000.00 may be assessed for each day of each violation under CGS sections 22a-32 and 22a-361.

Whom do I contact to set-up an appointment to discuss applying for a permit?

Contact the appropriate LWRD staff for your area to discuss your proposal.

What materials will I need to bring with me for the pre-application meeting?

Please fill out a pre-application questionnaire and bring this along with the requested supporting documentation to your meeting. We strongly recommend that you consult with and/or hire a professional such as a land surveyor, engineer or environmental/marine consultant familiar with our Department’s permitting process who can assist you in the preparation of the application and plans.

Where can I find more information on LWRD Coastal Programs and Permitting Process?

Visit our Coastal Management webpage, or contact the appropriate LWRD staff for your area to get answers to any further questions or other information about LWRD coastal programs and permits.

This information is designed to answer general questions and provide basic information. Refer to the appropriate statutes and regulations for the specific regulatory criteria of the different permit programs. This information should not be relied upon to determine whether or not a coastal permit is required for your activity. It is your responsibility to obtain and comply with all required permits.

Content last updated on March 3, 2020