The Gateway Conservation Zone, as defined in Section 25-102c of the Connecticut General Statutes, is best described as the upland area from the river, its tributaries and marshes, that extends up to the first ridgeline. Basically, the Conservation Zone is the area one sees from a viewpoint in the river or from the other side of the river. In map view (below), the Conservation Zone is a corridor along the Connecticut River that extends from Haddam and East Haddam south to the mouth of the river at Old Lyme and Old Saybrook. It is within this area that the minimum standards of the Gateway Commission apply.
The Connecticut Legislature assigned such importance to the preservation of the "natural and traditional riverway scene" that they required that adoption of any zoning regulation, subdivision regulation or zoning map that would impact properties within the Conservation Zone cannot become effective without the "approval " of the Gateway Commission. In addition, any variance of zoning regulations requested for property within the Conservation Zone must be referred to the Gateway Commission prior to a local ZBA deciding upon the application. What's more, the Gateway Commission has the unusual position of automatically being considered a "party" to any court action that may be brought in appeals of such decisions.
Clearly, the mission of the Gateway Commission to protect the Connecticut River's beauty for present and future Connecticut citizens of Connecticut is considered one of paramount importance for ecological, recreational and economic reasons.
If you are interested in a more detailed look at the map, you can inspect the original version and "zoom in" to see down to the parcel level (note that it takes a moment or two to download this map). This display map should only be used for planning purposes and should not be used to determine boundaries or other detailed information. For more detailed information, contact Gateway staff J. H. Torrance Downes of CRERPA at (860) 388-3497.