Executive Orders and other guidance on public meeting and application protocols
Update May 2021: Many of the Executive Order have now expired, with the exception of a few that have been extended to June 30th, 2021. The following summary was published by the law firm Halloran Sage's municipal practice division (original link https://halloransage.com/news/lamont-announces-extension-of-certain-covid-19-eos-affecting-municipalities/).
On May 20, 2021, Governor Lamont issued Executive Order 12B, which among other things extends certain of his prior Executive Orders impacting municipal government and procedures (including some in place since the beginning of the pandemic in the Spring of 2020), through June 30, 2021. While many previously issued executive orders have already expired, those orders which are being extended are designed to allow municipalities sufficient time either to anticipate returning to the previous methods of operation – with possible adjustments – on June 30 or to be able to comply with any new legislative enactments that may be passed prior to the end of the current session on June 9.
Among the Executive Order provisions which have been extended to June 30, without limitation, are the following:
EO 7B-1, which suspended in-person open meeting requirements;
EO 9H-1, which required the provision of remote participation in municipal meetings;
EO 7I-19, which extended certain municipal procedural deadlines, particularly with respect to land use proceedings;
EO 10E-2, which expanded eligibility for absentee voting to include concerns regarding COVID -19;
EO 7Q-3, which authorized remote notarization of documents; and
EO 7JJ-3, which tolled the expiration of land-use and building permits.
Additionally, EO 12B repeals EO 11A-2, which authorized the implementation and enforcement of “Sector Rules” by municipal agencies and authorities to reduce the spread of COVID -19, has been rescinded, effective immediately. We assume that this was done because the underlying capacity restrictions and other limitations on businesses, service providers and others having been eliminated effective May 19, there are now no pertinent requirements to enforce.
The effect of these changes will be to reinstate, at the announced times, the otherwise-applicable statutory, regulatory and other legal requirements, which the above EO’s had suspended or otherwise altered or to accommodate possible new legislative requirements.
The Governor also announced that these actions do not prohibit municipalities from continuing to require that masks be worn at public meetings, regardless of vaccination status.
We encourage our municipal clients to consider, notwithstanding these actions by the Governor, how the knowledge and experience they have gained during the pandemic, such as the provision of remote access to public meetings, may be continued or even expanded in order to enhance public participation in municipal processes and to engender a sense of community. We note that nothing in the Governor’s announcement requires municipalities to end such practices so long as the pre-pandemic requirements, including the Freedom of Information Act, are adhered to. We will provide subsequent updates if there are any changes to the Executive Orders or newly enacted legislation which affects our municipal clients.
March 10, 2020: Declaration of Civil Preparedness and Public Health Emergencies
- Suspends any municipal open meeting provision to enable meetings to occur remotely, provided that
- the public has the ability to view or listen to each meeting in real time
- the meeting is recorded or transcribed and posted on the agency's website within seven days
- Required notice and agenda for each meeting is posted on the agency's website, with information about how the public may access it
- Relevant materials shall be submitted to the agency at least 24 hours prior to the meeting and posted prior to, during, and after the meeting
- All speakers taking part in the meeting shall clearly state their name (and title, if applicable) before speaking , on each occasion they speak.
- effective (per 9L) to February 9, 2021
- (a) Extends statutory deadlines for land use applications and proceedings that would pass/expire during the current designated emergency by 90 days, in addition to any other statutory or regulatory extension provisions. A single 90-day extension is authorized for any individual petition/application proposal.
- (b) If a demolition delay would commence or expire during the emergency, extends demolition delay by 90 days.
- (c) Suspends and modifies public notice/filing rules to allow posting on a municipality's public website instead of the town clerk's office or newspaper. Notice shall remain on the website until completion of the process and for the duration of any applicable appeal period.
- (d) Allows notices normally required to be filed in the office of the municipal clerk to be posted on the municipal website.
- (e) Allows for the posting on a municipal website to replace a required posting of a physical sign on a property.
- (f) Required direct mail notifications may be substituted with 1) posting of physical sign on the subject property, or 2) emailing the person to be notified, if email address is known. If 1 or 2 are not possible then notification shall be made via regular U.S. mail.
- (g) Petitions may be filed electronically, with electronic signatures.
- (h) Commencement of an appeal to Superior Court may be noticed by a proper officer via email to the designated municipal clerk. Municipal websites must clearly state the designated email address for this process.
- (i) Zoning and Wetlands Enforcement decision appeals may be commenced via electronic mail (deadlines for requesting appeal are not extended).
- (j)(1) Municipality shall, upon reopening of relevant office, file electronic records in the permanent office records.
- (j)(2) Any document required to be recorded or filed with the municipal clerk shall be recorded or filed within a reasonable time of the office reopening.
- (j)(3) Head of agency may declare a waiver of requirements that applications must be made via paper copy or in duplicate.
- effective (per 9L) to February 9, 2021
March 23, 2020: Executive Order No. 7K effective (per 9L) to February 9, 2021
- Authorization of remote notarization
March 25, 2020: Executive Order No. 7M effective (per 9L) to February 9, 2021
- Tolling of time periods for DOT final determinations on permits
- Suspension of mandatory statutory filing requirements for FOIA appeals and decisions
- Authorization of state agencies to extend statutory regulatory administrative deadlines by 90 days
- Renewal date for on-premise liquor permits to be extended
- Permit need not be recorded with town clerk
May 6, 2020: Executive Order No. 7JJ
- Tolling of land use and building permits extended to November 9, 2020 by 9A and to February 9, 2020 by 9L
- Allowance of suspension of in-person voting requirements by members of the public for critical and time-sensitive municipal decisions extended to November 9, 2020 by 9A and to February 9, 2020 by 9L
- Allows municipalities to expedite changes to their zoning rules or other ordinances to expand outdoor dining extended to November 12, 2020 by 7OOO and to February 9, 2021 by 9K
- Creates an expedited approval process for restaurants and other establishments that serve food to get fast-tracked permission to create or expand outdoor dining areas extended to November 12, 2020 by 7OOO and to February 9, 2021 by 9K
- Allows other businesses such as retail stores to get fast-tracked permission to sell goods on the sidewalk or in other outdoor areas, including shared spaces or spaces provided by municipalities
- Allows restaurants and other businesses who already have liquor permits to serve alcohol only with food without applying for a separate patio or extension of use permit
- Allows private clubs to sell alcohol only to their members for delivery or pickup
- Above effective for the duration of the emergency, extended to November 9, 2020 by 9A, extended to February 9, 2021 by 9L
August 21, 2020: Executive Order No. 7OOO
- Extends expanded outdoor dining enabled by Executive Order 7MM to November 12, 2020 (superceded by 9K extension to February 9, 2021)
- Extend eviction moratorium to October 1, 2020 (extended to January 1, 2020 by 9H)
September 1, 2020: Extension of Declaration of Civil Preparedness and Public Health Emergencies
- Extends public health emergency to February 9, 2021
September 8, 2020: Executive Order No. 9A
- Reissuance and extension of most previous COVID-19 "effective for the duration of the emergency" executive orders to November 9, 2020 (superceded by Executive Order No. 9L extending orders to February 9, 2021)
October 20, 2020: Executive Order No. 9H
- Clarifies that municipalities may hold hybrid in-person/virtual municipal meetings, as long as some members of the public may attend in person (effective for duration of emergency, currently February 9, 2021)
- Requires municipal meetings accommodate requests for remote participation by meeting participants (but not members of the public) (effective for duration of emergency, currently February 9, 2021)
- Extends eviction moratorium to January 1, 2020 and makes other modifications
November 6, 2020: Executive Order No. 9K
- Extends Executive Order No. 7MM (outdoor dining) through February 9, 2021
- Extends Executive Orders due to expire November 9, 2020 to February 9, 2021
CLEAR 3/26 Webinar: Emergency Changes to the Land Use Process in the COVID-19 Era
March 18, 2020, CCM, COST, and CTCOG guidance document on Suspension of In Person Open Meeting Requirements
Shipman & Goodwin Summary of 7i
Analysis of 7b and 7i prepared by Attorney Steven E. Byrne
NEW November 19, 2020 COST/CCM/CTCOG Guidance Document- Extension of COVID-19 Executive Orders Pertaining to Municipal Meetings