Issue 1.2September 2013  
 A Newsletter for 
 Municipal Inland Wetlands Agencies 
   CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Inland Water Resources Division

2nd Edition!
Welcome to the second edition of the DEEP's Wetlands Management Section e-newsletter tailored for municipal inland wetlands agencies.  This newsletter will allow the Wetlands Management Section to provide timely announcements, updated guidance, and share information.  If you missed the first e-newsletter don't worry, all newsletters are being archived and are available on the Wetlands Management Section's e-newsletter web page. To join our mailing list, or to unsubscribe from the list, please see the link at the bottom of this newsletter.

Parliamentary Procedure
Conducting a Proper Meeting
Are you a new inland wetlands agency member?  Are you going to meetings but not sure what to do or say?  Inexperienced but want to know how to take part?  You need to ask how your municipal inland wetlands agency manages their meetings.  That is, what type of parliamentary procedure do they follow?  Parliamentary procedure is the body of rules, ethics and customs governing meetings and other operations of clubs, organizations, legislative bodies, and other deliberative assemblies.  Many of Connecticut's inland wetlands agencies follow the parliamentary procedure laid out in the book titled Roberts's Rules of Order.  Regardless of which guidelines your agency follows, the important thing is that the agency follows something!  Municipal inland wetlands agencies should have a set of rules (parliamentary procedure) established which enables the agency to confidently get through motions, debates, voting and more with the least possible friction.  Such rules are essential for keeping meetings orderly and on track, allowing everyone the opportunity to be heard. Written rules of order help ensure that the organization functions smoothly and that questions about procedure can be resolved quickly and fairly.  An organizations's rules of order may include bylaws, standing rules, and policy manuals.  It is important that every municipal inland wetlands agency follow parliamentary procedure and that every agency member knows the basic rules.  In 2008 the DEEP Wetlands Management Section provided training on parliamentary procedure.  A parliamentary motion guide is available on the Wetlands Management Section's website.

Public Meeting v. Public Hearing
Is There a Difference?

Municipal inland wetlands agencies conduct most of their business in regularly scheduled meetings.  These meetings are public meetings, meaning the public is allowed to observe the proceedings of the agency.  However, they are NOT public hearings.  A public hearing is the forum in which the public is allowed to speak on the merits of an application before the agency.  The municipal inland wetlands agency needs to be careful NOT to turn a public meeting into a public hearing.  The CT Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Act states that certain criteria be met in order to hold a public hearing.  Secondly, the CT Freedom of Information Act establishes procedural requirements that must be followed in order to hold a public hearing.  If the public is allowed to speak at a regularly scheduled meeting on the merits of an application before the agency, then the agency has turned such meeting into a public hearing for that particular application without meeting the criteria or requirements of both the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Act or the Freedom of Information Act. 

FOI Logo
Connecticut's Freedom of Information Act
Your Meeting Questions Answered...

The Connecticut Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), administered and enforced by the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission, ensures citizen access to the records and meetings of public agencies in the State of Connecticut.  Public agencies include municipal commissions such as the inland wetlands agency. Below are a series of questions and answers that will assist you in understanding a few of the requirements of the FOIA.  The Freedom of Information Commission also conducts educational workshops and speaking engagements for public agencies throughout the state.  For further information contact by phone: 860-566-5682 or toll free in Connecticut only at 866-374-3617; or email: 


  • How is a public meeting defined?  Any hearing or other proceeding of a public agency to discuss or act on any matter over which it has authority.
  • What types of inland wetlands agency meetings must be open to the public? Meetings, hearings and other proceedings.
  • Are there some inland wetlands agency meetings that may never be open to the public?  Personnel search committees, collective bargaining, negotiations, gatherings meant to be social occasions, administrative or staff meetings.
  • Can an inland wetlands agency hold an emergency meeting without notifying citizens?  Yes, but the agency must file its minutes (including the reason) within 72 hours.
  • Do municipal inland wetlands agencies need to publish or post their meeting times and locations?  Yes.
  • Does a citizen have the right to view an agenda before a meeting takes place?Yes.
  • When must agendas be available to the public before a meeting?  24 hours before the meeting.
  • Suppose a new item comes up that must be dealt with at the last minute, can it be added to the agenda?  Yes, with a 2/3 vote of the members of the agency.
  • When must minutes be available to the public?  Within 7 days of the meeting.
  • Can an agency require citizens to register for a meeting?  No! 
  • If a public meeting included a vote on an issue of public policy, does the public have access to the individual member's votes?  Yes!
Source:  State of CT Freedom of Information Commission Website ( 

Show-Cause Hearings
What Are They? 
Connecticut's municipal inland wetlands agencies implement and enforce the Connecticut Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Act.  An enforcement tool available to such agencies is the issuance of an order, typically a cease and desist or cease and correct order.  A cease and desist order mandates that an activity be stopped immediately and that such activity not continue.  A cease and correct order also mandates that an activity be stopped immediately and a situation be remedied. Under the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Act, the agency must hold a hearing to provide the person under order an opportunity to speak and explain why the order should not remain in effect.  This hearing is often referred to as a show-cause hearing. Meetings of municipal inland wetlands agencies, including show-cause hearings, are public. This means the public can attend and observe.  Show-cause hearings are NOT public hearings, such as those held on the merits of an application, and therefore the public may not speak. Further, no prior publication of a legal notice is required pursuant to the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Act; however, a Freedom of Information Act notice is required.  Remember, a show-cause hearing is simply a proceeding that requires a person to come to the municipal inland wetlands agency and offer clarification or justification for some matter.  It allows the person under order to explain why an enforcement action need not occur; and it allows the agency to show there is a cause or reason for the enforcement order. 

New Online Survey
Let Us Know How We Are Doing!  
The DEEP's Wetlands Management Section has made an effort over the last five years to create a user friendly website that provides Connecticut's municipal inland wetlands agencies with information on training, regulations, guidelines and other technical resources; as well as educate Connecticut's citizens regarding wetland and watercourse management and protection. The Wetlands Management Section wants to know how we can improve.  Please take a few moments to complete this survey.  

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer that is committed to complying with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Please contact us at 860-418-5910 or if you: have a disability and need a communication aid or service; have limited proficiency in English and may need information in another language; or if you wish to file an ADA or Title VI discrimination complaint.