Zoning for Green Infrastructure!

Thanks to an innovative set of new zoning provisions recently approved by the City of Hartford Planning and Zoning Commission in consultation with the green infrastructure team at the Office of Sustainability, green infrastructure practices will now be incorporated into new developments disturbing more than 5,000 square feet.

The goal of these changes is to manage one inch of precipitation on the lot, without discharging any stormwater runoff into the public drainage system. This approach was recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency in its Next Steps Memo for Hartford, after the “Green and Complete Streets” workshop it ran earlier in 2017. Green infrastructure also provides many valuable co-benefits beyond the capture and treatment of stormwater runoff. Reducing the amount of impervious surfaces in our city and adding green spaces helps cool and clean the air. Plantings help beautify our streets and neighborhoods.

As part of the permitting process, applicants will be required to show how they plan to manage the one-inch storm on-site or at another location. If that is not feasible, they can opt to pay into a newly-created green infrastructure fund supporting the implementation of stormwater best management practices around the city. Fees have been set at $3 per gallon, except in the federally-designated Promise Zone, where they will be $1.50 per gallon.

These new provisions are based largely on the stormwater management provisions instituted in Norfolk, Virginia. The goal of managing one inch of stormwater on-site follows the New York City requirement, and Hartford hopes to achieve the same goal on an incremental basis. The opt-out fees were adapted from an analysis of costs of best management practices done in Washington, D.C.

The photo above was taken at Keney Park Sustainability Project at its edible rain garden site!