Regional Planning in Connecticut

A guide to finding information about Regional Planning Organizations in Connecticut

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Regional Planning Organizations (RPOs)

"Regional Planning Organizations are statutorily authorized regional entities voluntarily established by the municipalities located within the [9] state-defined planning regions."[3, p.i] There is no requirement that they be formed.

Regional Councils of Governments (RCOGs) are the only type of RPO authorized in Connecticut as of January 1, 2015.

  • Definitions according to Connecticut General Statues (CGS) Sec. 4-124i:
    • (1) “Planning region” means a planning region of the state as defined or redefined by the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, or his designee under the provisions of section 16a-4a;
    • (2) “Chief elected official” means the highest ranking elected governmental official of any town, city or borough within the state;
    • (3) “Elected official” means any selectman, mayor, alderman, or member of a common council or other similar legislative body of any town or city, or warden or burgess of any borough;
    • (4) “Council” means a regional council of governments organized under the provisions of sections 4-124i to 4-124p, inclusive;
    • (5) “Member” means any town, city or borough within a planning region of the state having become a member of a regional council of governments in accordance with sections 4-124i to 4-124p, inclusive.
  • CGS Sec. 8-31c states that the term “regional council of governments” shall be substituted for "regional planning agency" in the statutes. Regional Council of Governments (RCOG or COG) may be used in legislation, reports, etc. to mean all current RPOs in Connecticut.
  • Councils of Governments (COG) are one type of RPO, which bring together the Chief Elected Officials (CEOs, or mayors and first selectmen) of the member municipalities in the region to discuss matters of mutual interest and to address shared problems. These persons comprise the COG’s governing board and collectively determine the activities the COG. COGs also employ staff to address the tasks of the COG.

Connecticut has nine geographic planning regions as of January 1, 2015 (previously: 15 planning regions that had minor variation over time). Membership in RPOs was, and still is, voluntary - municipalities are assigned to a planning region by Office of Policy and Management (OPM), but they are not required to join the corresponding organization(s). There were variations in the beginning years, as the program addressed issues and smoothed out kinks.

"The former Connecticut Development Commission designated the regions during the 1950s to prevent the proliferation of geographically small planning regions and organizations. But towns within a region can petition the OPM secretary to subdivide the region, which he may do only if the proposed region would better address the towns’ needs..."[8]

Connecticut had, and still has, wide variation between different areas and municipalities within the state. This fact impacts regional planning as much as the other issues concerning Connecticut and its people. Differences between the RPOs often reflected this variationcal regional planning area may serve as the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for one or more federally-defined metropolitan planning areas, with regard to transportation planning.


How Many

Currently 9 RPOs, with jurisdictions matching geographic boundaries of state-defined regional planning areas.

How Formed

Through local ordinances. The municipalities within each planning region pass local ordinances to voluntarily create, and join, a Regional Planning Organization (RPO).


Voluntary. Municipalities must pass ordinance to join. Membership dues are set by each RPO.

Possible Duties & Responsibilities

Regional Planning Organizations (RPOs) have planning authority to consider a broad range of matters. Because municipalities form and join the RPOs voluntarily based on local ordinances, the RPOs may vary in tasks/issues addressed. For details, you might want to check the RPO's individual web sites and/or the Connecticut General Statutes (CGS). A few examples might be:

  • Assists municipalities - administrative, management, technical or planning assistance as requested by municipality (CGS Secs. 8-31b; 8-35a; and Chpt.127)
  • Long range planning for region. By state statute RPOs' area of concern is the entire region, including non-member municipalities (CGS Secs. 8-31b; 8-35a; and Chpt.127)
  • Administers federal funding for specific programs requiring applications to go through regional governmental organization, assuring compliance with comprehensive regional plan. Examples: Housing; Transportation; open space; water or sewer system projects (CGS Sec. 8-31b; and Chpt.127)
  • Advisory role - no enforcement authority (CGS Chpt.127)
  • Prepare the Plan of Conservation and Development (C&D), as required by law, at least every 10 years and revised at least every 3 years. Covers: land use, housing, highways, parks, school, etc. (CGS Secs. 8-23; 8-35a; and Chpt.127)
  • Zoning changes within 500 feet of town boundaries - submits advisory report on the regional implications (CGS Sec. 8-26b; and Chpt.127)
  • Assists public and private agencies within the region in complying with development plans (CGS Secs. 8-31b; 8-35a; and Chpt.127)
  • May propose "Regional Economic Development Districts" that Governor designates (PA 10-168; CGS Sec. 32-741)
  • Cost savings through collaborative services (CGS Sec. 8-31b; and Chpt.127)

Types of RPOs

Currently Regional Councils of Government (RCOGS) are the only authorized type of RPO in Connecticut, although in the past Regional Planning Agencies (RPAs) and Regional Councils of Elected Officials(RCEOs) were authorized. Some RPOs changed organizational type over the years - for example, when legislation authorized a new structure of RPO and/or changed authorities and duties of a type.

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