A. The Legal Basis for Historic District Commissions and Historic Property Commissions
The legal authority of HDCs and HPCs is both legislative and judicial.
State laws authorize the creation of HDCs and HPCs, define their purpose, and describe the procedural responsibilities. The enabling statute (Connecticut General Statutes (CGS),Section 7-147a-y) authorizes the creation of HDCs and HPCs, delimits their authority, andprescribes the means through which that authority is exercised.
As units of local government, HDCs and HPCs must also adhere to the State ofConnecticut’s Freedom of Information Act (CGS, Chapter 14, Sections 1-7 and 1-200), which provides rules for legal notices, public meetings, and record keeping.
Local laws further delimit the authority and jurisdiction of HDCs and HPCs and define the operating procedures. The local ordinance establishes an HDC or HPC in accordance with the state enabling statute. The HDC or HPCs must then adopt its own internal rules ofprocedure that must comply with both the state enabling statute and Freedom of Information Act.
The legality and constitutionality of local preservation commissions have been upheld in numerous state and federal courts, including the United States Supreme Court and the Connecticut Supreme Court.
Decisions in court cases apply only to the specific case and do not change the language or requirements of the state enabling statute. While court decisions may provide guidance for future consideration, only the state legislature can alter or amend the enabling statute.