Legal and Policy Options for Advancing Coastal Resilience in Southern Connecticut

Posted on: 3/18/2019 - Updated on: 4/02/2024

Posted by

Adam Whelchel

Project Summary

Note: This case study has been migrated to the Adaptation Clearinghouse and will be removed from CAKE at the end of 2024. 

The Regional Framework for Coastal Resilience in Southern Connecticut is a joint project managed collaboratively by the Southern Connecticut Regional Council of Governments, The Nature Conservancy, and the Connecticut Metropolitan Council of Governments. The project was supported by a Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resilience Competitive Grant to assess and reduce risks associated with extreme weather events and increase resilience along ~30% of Connecticut’s coastline. The project focuses on community resilience building through natural and green infrastructure and land-use planning through ten contiguous coastal municipalities in Southern Connecticut including Fairfield, Bridgeport, Stratford, Milford, West Haven, New Haven, East Haven, Branford, Guilford, and Madison. As part of the broader project, the Southern Connecticut Regional Framework for Coastal Resilience: Legal, Policy, and Regulatory Assessment Guide is designed to advance risk reduction from extreme events, increase the resiliency of ecosystems, and initiate a Regional Resilience Framework via a partnership among local governments, regional planning agencies, NGOs, state agencies, and academia. This “Guide” is a truncated version of a much more detailed report prepared by the Marine Affairs Institute (MAI).

The content was produced by MAI through independent legal research and interviews. Independent research included direct consideration of federal and state laws and municipal charters, ordinances, and regulations, as well as other relevant sources of legal authority. Interviews were conducted in accordance with a standard protocol and were held with key staff from participating municipalities, relevant regional governance organizations, state agency personnel, and other knowledgeable stakeholders.

This guide is organized into two sections: 1) audit of legal authorities central to regional resilience policy and planning; and 2) legal and policy options for advancing natural/green infrastructure and improving overall municipal resilience. Jurisdictional and procedural processes are separated into the following categories:

  • Planning and zoning, including building codes, flood and erosion control, coastal management, and wetlands regulation;
  • Water quality protection;
  • Parks, wildlife, and open space; and
  • Transportation infrastructure, including navigation and highways.


Whelchel A. (2019). Legal and Policy Options for Advancing Coastal Resilience in Southern Connecticut. Ed. Rachel M. Gregg. [Summary of a project of the Marine Affairs Institute, Southern Connecticut Regional Council of Governments, The Nature Conservancy, and the Connecticut Metropolitan Council of Governments]. Retrieved from CAKE:… (Last updated May 2019)

Project Contact

Adam Whelchel

Diector of Science

[email protected]

Project Contacts

Position: Director of Science

Affiliated Organizations

The Roger Williams University School of Law's Marine Affairs Institute, in partnership with Rhode Island Sea Grant and University of Rhode Island, is a comprehensive clearinghouse for marine law and policy, engaged in preparing the next generation of marine law professionals. Located between Narragansett Bay and Mount Hope Bay at the gateway to Cape Cod, RWU Law offers an ideal location in which to learn about and conduct research on issues in coastal law.

The Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments (SCCOG) is a public agency with representatives from twenty-two towns, cities, and boroughs, formed to provide a basis for intergovernmental cooperation in dealing with a wide range of issues. The Council was organized in October of 1992, taking over the mission of the Southeastern Connecticut Regional Planning Agency (SCRPA), which had been in existence since January 1961.  

The Connecticut Metropolitan Council of Governments (MetroCog) is a multi-discipline, regional planning organization with six member communities — Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Stratford and Trumbull — centered on the City of Bridgeport, Connecticut. 

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