Minutes of the September 21, 2005 meeting of the Council on Environmental Quality, held in the Council Chambers of Torrington City Hall.

PRESENT:  Thomas Harrison (Chairman), Howard Beach, John Mandyck, Earl Phillips, Richard Sherman, Norman VanCor, Karl Wagener (Executive Director)

Chairman Harrison called the meeting to order at 9:35 AM, and determined that a quorum was present.  VanCor made a motion to accept the August 24, 2005 meeting minutes.  Second by Beach. Unanimous.

Chairman’s Report

Chairman Harrison said that he and Wagener had met with Secretary Robert Genuario and other staff of the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) to explain the Council’s budget situation, and that Wagener and he would be submitting the necessary paperwork to request the addition of an environmental analyst position.  Mandyck asked if it would be appropriate to adopt a formal resolution at the October meeting in support of the request.  Harrison and other members thought it would be a good idea.

Executive Director’s Report

Wagener said that he had submitted the comments, approved by the members, to OPM regarding the draft Connecticut Environmental Policy Act (CEPA) regulations.

He said he presented a summary of the annual report at the most recent meeting of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association’s Environmental Policy Council. 

Citizen Complaints

Fenton River – Wagener and Harrison said they had been contacted by citizens about the recent dehydration of the Fenton River in Mansfield.  According to newspaper accounts, the drought-stressed river went dry when the UConn students returned for the fall semester and the wells, which pump from the aquifer along the river, diverted all water from that stretch of the river.  A representative of the Naubesetuck Watershed Association would like to attend the next Council meeting.  Members agreed to put it on the agenda, even though the October agenda was full already, and to invite Richard Miller, UConn’s Director of Environmental Policy. Phillips suggested, and others agreed, that the issue might also require a special meeting.

Motocross in the Great Meadows, Rocky Hill – Wagener said he had received a detailed complaint about the fact that the proposed Motocross facility requires a Stream Channel Encroachment Line permit from the DEP, but that the statutes for that program, which are old, do not allow for a public hearing.  Members agreed to schedule this for the November 30 meeting.

Review of State Agency Projects

Brookfield Sewer Extension – Wagener said he had received an Environmental Impact Evaluation (EIE) for a proposed sewer line extension in Brookfield to serve three areas that have failing septic systems.  Wagener said the Council learned about this problem at its public forum in Brookfield three years ago.  He said he found the EIE, which is only eight pages, to be adequate, supporting the Council’s contention that an EIE need not be a thick, expensive document.

Chairman Harrison adjourned the regular meeting at 9:58, and announced that after a two minute break the public forum would begin.

Public Forum Summary
Council Chambers
Torrington City Hall
September 21, 2005
10:00 AM

David Rivera

            Chief of Staff, Mayor's Office, welcomed Council and public to Torrington on behalf of Mayor Quinn, who had a prior engagement.

Andrew Roraback

            Senator, 30th District, welcomed everyone to Northwest Connecticut, a place where the environment is important.  It has come a long way, and has a long way to go.


§  Open Space:  Long-term financial commitment to partnerships with municipalities.  The excellent bill passed in 2005 to provide funding for grants is not an invitation to complacency; it should be a catalyst for more action.  “The reward for a job well done is the opportunity to do more.” (J. Salk.)

§  Lakes and Ponds:  State need to be a partner with towns.  Problems include invasives.  State must play more meaningful role.

§  State Parks:  Financial commitment needed.

The CEQ Report is a great resource for legislators and the public.  And the Environmental Monitor is a valuable tool for the public on projects such as the Litchfield Courthouse.

Two bills should get support next session: 1) Bill to extend municipal property tax breaks for hybrid vehicles (to complement sales tax break), and 2) Allow landowners (such as one in New Hartford) to give development rights to towns and get property tax breaks over years.

Roberta Willis

            Representative, 64th District.

            Wants to see CEQ budget restored.

            Supports Senator Roraback’s comments on open space.


§ Lack of coherent water policy

Yale Farm golf course, DEP ruling on water supply
Fenton River example
Minimum stream flow bill
Managing state’s water supply
Housatonic River: “free flow” is impacting businesses

§  Invasive Plants:  New Council has not sent a strong enough bill to the legislature; need to ban six species entirely, including burning bush.

§  Lakes:  Invasives are a big threat.  Boaters come into a lake with milfoil, zebra mussel larvae, etc.  Also, people pursue their own solutions, such as herbicides and grass carp.

§  Plan of Conservation and Development (C&D)

Martin Connor

            City Planner, City of Torrington.

            Mayor has formed a Land Use Task Force of Department Heads.

            NEMO program (from UConn Extension Service) works with Torrington

            Major Issues:

  • DEP Staffing in Inland Water Resources program
      • When Mr. Connor spoke to the CEQ in Litchfield in 1997, DEP had 3 times as many staff on this.
      • All of the easily-developed land is gone, so all of the projects are more complicated
      • It may be true that the DEP offers more training (referencing CEQ report), but its only 3 different sessions, not enough (and only one person to work on it). Need 3 or 4 nuts and bolts sessions.
      • DEP staff used to come out to visit sites; not any more.

  • State needs to follow its own C&D Plan.

  • GIS should be available throughout the state.  This would enable towns to work together, and every town could do a build-out analysis.

  • Smart Growth:  State needs to help with smart growth.  Now, it is 169 towns against one another for tax revenue. Dense development will require community septic systems, but no one will build one because of the two-year regulatory process.

  • Sewage issues:  Cost of nitrogen removal will be high for city.  Accepting sewage from Goshen, as DEP wants, will consume Torrington’s capacity.  State should be helping the city build its industrial and commercial base, not hindering it.

  • DEP Enforcement:  Heavy lifting is done by towns; DEP is a band-aid.  DEP staff needs more help.  DEP tells towns:  “See what you can do about the violation.”

Kim Barbieri

            Zoning and Inland Wetlands Officer, City of Torrington

  • DEP wetlands staff has been reduced, and so has the amount of information available.  Also, even though the DEP has insufficient staff, it usurps local reviewers on projects regulated by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  Example:  Local commission had agreed to a permit whereby the developer would restore a large devastated wetland as mitigation for a small fill.  In advising the Army Corps, DEP staff ignored all that, and would not meet with local staff on site. In response to a question from Phillips, Ms. Barbieri said the Army Corps permit took away all of the good requirements the town had negotiated.

  • State buildings, such as courthouses, should be green buildings, with green roofs, and should work with NEMO.

  • Putting sewers into areas served by wells depletes the aquifers and contributes to the nitrogen problem.

  • DOT Projects:  DEP not monitoring Route 8 infills (because it is considered maintenance).
    DOT using street sweepings. Pondings.  Drain straight to river. Invasive species are spread by DOT, unmonitored and unchecked.  In response to a question from Sherman, Ms. Barbieri replied that the DOT’s position is that maintenance activities are not DEP issues.

  • River dike is covered with invasive species, and is now a seed source, thanks to Army Corps policies.
Frank Pennington

            Resident, City  of Torrington

            City Council is aware of his concern:  The city filled an area along new road surface with road sweepings.  After a heavy rain, he found a syringe in the mud in his yard.  He is concerned that the city plans to expand its re-use of street sweepings.  In addition to rubbish, the contamination could affect wells in their front yards.

Marie Wallace

            President, League of Women Voters of Litchfield County

  • Everyone seems to be on the same wavelength: open space.  Litchfield Hills depends on open space for tourism.  Of course, it attracts new development, too.  The LWV lobbied for Bill 410, the new grant source.

  • Looking into a Litchfield Hills Regional Water Authority, to save land.

  • Concerned about legislation that would allow Waterbury to sell Class I and Class II lands it owns in northwestern CT.

  • Need to preserve 20,000 acres per year.

Sylvia Abbott

            Litchfield Garden Club, Ripley Land Trust

  • Open Space:  our economy depends on tourism; development pressure is increasing.
  • Invasive species are rampant; want laws enforced and, where appropriate, species eradicated.
  • Too much use of pesticides and fertilizers
  • Enforce State Plan of C&D

Thomas Teti

            Resident of Torrington

            Route 8, near Exit 46, median is being filled in with blacktop chunks, sand, dirt.  There are springs and catch basins in area.  Streams and brooks will be polluted.  Is DEP aware of this and are the doing anything about it?  Phillips clarified that the points to look into are the nature of the fill and location.

Sandy Breslin

            Legislative Affairs, Audubon Connecticut

            Distributed Handout with legislative priorities. Summary of issues:

§wildlife diversity

§grassland protection

§open space

§invasive species


§light pollution; disrupts bird migration; bill requiring full-cutoff fixtures passed two years in a row, but was vetoed each time

§Long Island Sound: Broadwater; need more information on benthic organisms before decisions are made

§Appropriations for DEP and CEQ

§CEPA  and Mitigation Enforcement.   Mitigation promises and efforts must be followed up on.  Mitigation for Rentschler Field required creating new grasslands elsewhere in the state, but we don’t know if they are functioning; the soils might be wrong.  There should be a 3:1 ratio of new habitat created, and some agency must be responsible for following up, closing the loop.  Recommendation is for more transparency in implementing, monitoring mitigation plans.

Jean Cronauer

            Executive Director, Northwest Conservation District

            Introduced Conservation districts.

            Complemented CEQ Report

            New DEP Commissioner has good initiatives

Districts function “where rubber meets the road”:

§Many towns have no planning staff; among the 34 towns in the District, probably only 10 planners

§Districts provide essential services to towns; each District receives $1,000 from state general fund appropriations

§Would like to see training and certification for all commission members.

§DEP does not provide enough training, and it’s usually too far away.

§Towns seeing more applications than ever before; big subdivisions, golf courses, etc.

§Conditions recommended by District often break down in implementation.  Are inspections possible?  Sometimes District is contracted to inspect, but not always.  Towns need help.

§Funding and staffing for planning at the state level are pathetic.

§Towns are afraid to deny applications because they do not want to face the expense of lawsuits.  Could state have legal defense fund to help towns?

§Envirothon:  Competitive extracurricular activity for high school students.  Teachers use Envirothon materials to teach all of their students.  This year’s competition will be May 18 at Rocky Neck.

Recommends reading “Red Sky at Morning” by Gustave Speth.  Climate change matters everywhere, but education on climate change has been awful.

Gerald Rollett

            Director of Public Works, City of Torrington

§Sewers and Nitrogen:  DEP wants some Goshen areas to connect to the Torrington sewage system.  Torrington has a sewer system master plan; the system is at its limit, and it calls for no connections outside of a line.  The Goshen flow would come with no nitrogen credits, because the flow currently goes to groundwater.  City is close to technological limit for nitrogen reduction; as state grows, people will be over the limits.

§Street Sweepings.  City has funded $25,000 study for grit management system.  Sweepings and sewage treatment plant grit would go to a new grit recycling facility, which would cost a million dollars.  DEP guidance allows DOT to create “landfill” (median in Route 8).  City has nowhere to put its own sweepings; options in guidance document were useless.  City and state should be in this together; now, DOT can put it in median, so towns are left hanging.

§State Solid Waste Plan:  Not impressed with DEP workshop.  Concerned that DEP will just hire consultants, but towns do things differently.

§DEP General Permit for Fats Oils and Greases has been delayed.  [Editor’s Note:  This permit subsequently was issued on October 6, 2005.]

Robert Klancko

            Partner, Klancko and Klancko LLC

            Was unable to attend, but submitted a written statement that was distributed to Council members and summarized by Wagener.  In short, the statement highlighted several areas where major shifts in state environmental policy is required in order to get the state’s environmental trends to move forward again.  These include improving compliance while avoiding needless confrontation and paperwork, educational outreach to public with less jargon, faster brownfield recycling, creating a mass transportation ethic that includes students, and a comprehensive study of the actual pollution sources in the state.  “Perhaps the era of regulation is ending and the one of collaborations should begin.”

End of Public Forum