Minutes of the December 20, 2005 meeting of the Council on Environmental Quality, held in the Ensign Conference Room, 79 Elm Street, Hartford. 

PRESENT:  Thomas Harrison (Chairman), M. Howard Beach, Earl Phillips, Norman VanCor, Barbara Wagner,  Karl Wagener (Executive Director)

Harrison called the meeting to order at 9:10 AM and determined that a quorum was present.

Adoption of the November 30, 2005 minutes was postponed.

Chairman’s Report

Chairman Harrison said he had received requests to hold a public forum in the near future in the Simsbury area, in part because of concern about in that area about the possible development of a large piece of land owned by the Ethel Walker School, and asked for members’ views.  There was general agreement that the Simsbury Town Hall would be a good location.  Wagner disclosed that her daughter teaches at the school, but member did not see a conflict there.  Phillips asked if the Council should consider revising the format of its forums in a way that would allow the Council to communicate its own priorities to the public. Members thought the idea had merit, and discussion of communications ensued.  Chairman Harrison asked Phillips and VanCor to develop and propose some ideas to improve the Council’s communications generally.

Executive Director’s Report

Wagener said the special report, “Preserved But Not Protected,” had been delivered to Governor M. Jodi Rell, Commissioner Gina McCarthy, legislative leaders, and other officials.

Wagener reported that he had been visited recently by staff of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities and the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, who presented data to him that showed how the state’s Clean Water Fund was insufficiently funded to meet the demand from cities and towns, and also how the need to abate stormwater pollution would cost money. The groups suggested the Council might want to investigate further.  This prompted discussion of the immediate topic, which was of significant concern, and of the need to schedule the Council’s priorities.

Wagener said that the scheduled guest, Yvonne Bolton, Chief of the DEP’s Bureau of Water Management, had canceled at the last minute, and would be rescheduled.  After a brief update on the Farmington wetlands complaint, including a letter from a Farmington resident who was appalled that the state was taking no action, Wagener said there were no other complaints or state agency projects that required action.

Discussion of Annual Report Topics

Chairman Harrison said that he would like to see the Council go back to an April publication date for the annual report, and members agreed.  Wagener said that the Council would have to decide very soon if it wanted to change the format of the report.  After considerable discussion of the merits and disadvantages of the current format, as well as the major audiences for the report, the Council agreed to stay with the current format and design.  In future weeks, the Council might want to rearrange content and make other changes within this format.  

Chairman Harrison adjourned the meeting at 10:40, to allow the news media to set up for the news briefing on “Preserved But Not Protected” at 11:00.