Minutes of the April 26, 2006 meeting of the Council on Environmental Quality, held in the Holcombe Conference Room of 79 Elm Street, Hartford.

PRESENT:  Thomas Harrison (Chairman), Howard Beach, Susan Mendenhall, Earl Phillips, Norman VanCor, Barbara Wagner, Wes Winterbottom, Karl Wagener (Executive Director)

Harrison convened the meeting at 9:20 AM and determined that a quorum was present. 

Phillips made a motion to approve the April 5, 2006 minutes.  Winterbottom seconded the motion. Approved unanimously, with Mendenhall and VanCor abstaining for the reason that they had not been present.

Executive Director’s Report

Wagener reported that the annual report would necessarily be delayed because he needed to spend more time than usual at the Capitol this session.  He reported that he had selected an intern for the summer semester, who will start near the beginning of June.

There was considerable discussion of legislation.  Wagener reported that two of the encroachment-related bills had died in the Appropriations Committee:  the revolving fund for land trusts, and the bill relating to protection of the DEP’s boundaries.  The first was not a disaster, said Wagener, as the main encroachment bill contained a provision whereby the Attorney General could assist land trusts that suffer encroachments.

The main encroachment bill, 5447, had passed the House unanimously and was awaiting action in the Senate.  The bill to restrict paving of abandoned roads in parks and preserves (5446) was till alive but had attracted questions and opposition.  After discussion, members agreed that it would be desirable to have any bill pass that would be an improvement over the status quo.  The bill to allow for public notice and environmental review of surplus state lands (188) was being discussed by interested parties in an effort to achieve language acceptable to all.  Phillips questioned whether a 30-day comment period on proposed transfers, as provided in the draft, was enough.

In general, Wagener said, it has been, with a week to go in the session, a challenging year thus far for environmental legislation.

Citizen Complaints

Farmington Wetlands – Wagener distributed copies of a letter that the DEP had sent to the Town of Farmington that sought clarification of past permit actions.  Members expressed surprise at the question asked in the letter.  As the DEP gave the town until May 26, a date after the May Council meeting, members concurred that it would be better to invite the DEP to attend the June meting rather than the May meeting.

Trees in Shelton – Wagener distributed a letter fro some aldermen of Shelton who were asking the Council to look into the Department of Transportation’s policies and practices regarding the granting of permission to private parties for tree removal.  The letter cited some examples.  Members agreed that it warranted investigation.

Distributed Generation – Following up on the discussion of the previous meeting regarding the state’s subsidizing of small generating plants, Wagener reported that DEP Commissioner Gina McCarthy had written to the Department of Public Utility Control expressing the DEP’s interest in working with the DPUC on ensuring clean generation.

Review of State Agency Projects

Gateway Community College Relocation and Consolidation – After some discussion, members agreed that there was no need to submit comments on the Environmental Impact Evaluation for this project.

There was some discussion of the annual report.

Harrison adjourned the meeting at 11:05.