Connecticut Trust For Historic Preservation

Information on Village Districts Act

The Village Districts Act, passed by the Connecticut General Assembly in 1998, is an aggressive tool to help municipalities protect and preserve their community character and historic development patterns. The law allows towns to designate village districts as a way of protecting sections of towns that have distinctive character, landscape and historic structures. Within these areas, the town zoning commission may adopt regulations governing such matters as the design and placement of buildings and maintenance of public views. These regulations also "encourage conversion and preservation of existing buildings and sites in a manner that maintains the historic, natural and community character of the district." They provide "that proposed buildings or modifications to existing buildings be harmoniously related their surroundings, to the terrain and to the use, scale and architecture of existing buildings in the vicinity that have a functional or visual relationship to the proposed building or modification." The scale, proportions, massing, size, proportion and roof treatments should be compatible with the area and the "removal or disruption of historic traditional or significant structures or architectural elements shall be minimized." In addition to design, the arrangement and orientation of any proposed new construction should be compatible with the immediate neighborhood. All applications for substantial reconstruction and new construction shall be subject to review and comment by an architect or architectural firm contracted by the commission. The bill applies to rural, urban and suburban communities, which can exhibit 'village' characteristics. Listed below are five steps towns should follow in the process of designating Village Districts:

  1. Educate the residents and support for the designation of each area as a Village District.
  2. Inventory the structures and landscape and settings of each district, and identify problems.
  3. Establish standards of design unique to each area and in common to all, including public landscaping, sidewalks, lighting, street furniture, pedestrian, and bike and vehicle circulation.
  4. Set up timing and funding schedules and adopt the needed zoning regulations.
  5. Monitor progress and effects of the local zoning and revise as needed.

There has been much discussion regarding the differences between a Village District and Local Historic District. Both offer protection of historic and scenic resources, but the processes for establishing each are different. For more information, please click on t he link below.

Historic Districts & Village Districts in Connecticut written by Brian R. Smith, Robinson & Cole LLP

Village District Act written by Greg Farmer, CT Trust Circuit Rider