Regional Planning in Connecticut

A guide to finding information about Regional Planning Organizations in Connecticut

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Overview of Regional Planning in Connecticut

 

NOTE: This guide does not include regional school district information. Please see the website at the State Department of Education.

 

Regional planning is a collaborative effort by multiple governments and/or organizations to make long term plans for a designated area. It might cover several states (such as the former Tri-State Regional Planning Commission) or several municipalities (as done in Connecticut). While regional planning is a current topic of interest, it is not a new concept. In 1909 the first National Conference on City Planning was held in Washington, D.C. The Regional Planning Association of America, established 1923, had roots going back to 1918.

Connecticut's Office of Policy and Management (OPM) describes regional planning as "...a cooperative effort by a group of municipalities to plan jointly those elements of the regional community that affect them all and to cope with problems that cross municipal boundaries.".[1]

The Office of Policy and Management (OPM) is charged with regional planning coordination as per CGS 16a-4a. OPM is the primary state agency that works with Regional Planning Organizations (RPOs), with the exception of transportation-related planning duties.

The OPM web site states: "Connecticut’s planning regions provide a geographic framework within which municipalities can jointly address common interests, and coordinate such interests with state plans and programs.  State statutes authorize the secretary of the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) to designate or redesignate the boundaries of logical planning regions, whereas the member municipalities of each planning region are authorized under separate state statutes to establish a formal governance structure known as a regional council of governments (RCOG)."[2]

Throughout many parts of the United States, county governments carry out the regional planning functions. Connecticut abolished county government in 1960.

Regional Planning Organizations (RPOs) vs. Geographic Planning Regions

The Planning Regions are the logical geographic areas defined and named by the State of Connecticut through the Office of Policy and Management (OPM).

The Regional Planning Organizations (RPOs) are the public agencies that two or more municipalities form (or later join) on a voluntary basis. Municipalities may chose to join the RPO. They are required to be within the geographic regions defined by OPM (there is a procedure to appeal this).

This idea can be confusing at first, as the terms and names are similar for regions and organizations. Often, but not always, the Regional Planning Organizations (RPOs) will use the name of the physical geographic region as part of the name of the RPO. Examples:

  • The Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments is located in the Southeastern planning region;
  • The Connecticut Metropolitan Council of Governments is in the Greater Bridgeport planning region, and the region is often referred to as the Metropolitan Region.
  • Windham describes a town and a previous planning region (as well as a county).