Go To Search
Norwich Help Center
Related Boards & Commissions

The Comprehensive Plan is the City of Norwich's Zoning Regulations and Zoning Map.

Few people think of zoning as a "plan," but when you combine policies with geography (a map) indeed the result is a plan, as the combination of these two elements outline the rules that will help Norwich achieve the future that it envisions. For example, a vacant parcel of land that is zoned for business purposes represents a future condition that Norwich wants: a building housing a new business; rather than the current condition (vacant land). By describing the desired condition on a map, the City is sharing that knowledge with others to enable potential buyers to understand the City's vision. When linked with regulations, the details about how that vision can be achieved are then communicated to interested parties.

How does zoning work? State law enables towns to adopt a comprehensive plan. In Norwich, the comprehensive plan is administered by the City Council, and the day-to-day administration is overseen by the Commission on the City Plan and the City's Department of Planning and Neighborhood Services. All properties in the city are "zoned," which means that there is at least one set of rules that apply to how a property owner can use their land. The basic elements are whether the property is zoned for residential (housing) or business uses, but there are many nuances. Digging deeper into the use classifications, property owners will see lists of principal uses that are allowed, as well as accessory uses (such as whether you can install a swimming pool, garden or shed). All uses have a permit process, which ranges from no permit required through special permits.

Some uses include additional rules and standards to ensure that the use falls within acceptable levels in the city. Off-street parking, for example, is required for almost all uses, and the size of the parking lot is related to the size of the building and the type of use in the building. Backus Hospital has a different parking requirement than Norwichtown Commons because of the rate in which parking is anticipated to be used.

The regulations provide guidance regarding the minimum number of spaces that are anticipated to be needed, along with size requirements for the individual space. This approach has been developed to control how one property might impact adjacent properties and the public's transportation network.
Zoning is not meant to be a static tool, and as time progresses new ways to address topics, such as off-street parking, arise, as do new land use activities that we had not previously imagined. Also, every ten years the city updates the Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD), an overall vision for the city, and the comprehensive plan needs to be updated to reflect the ideas in that document.

Ultimately, a large portion of the POCD will be implemented with private capital from developers and property owners that share Norwich's vision, appreciate the market opportunity here, and have the knowhow to pursue the development. It is up to the comprehensive plan to make sure that the desires of the community are purposefully given and that the development community has clear direction on how to satisfy those desires.

Helpful Links