Minutes of the May 24, 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, John Mandyck, Earl Phillips, Richard Sherman, Norman VanCor, Barbara Wagner, Karl Wagener (Executive Director)

Harrison convened the meeting at 9:05 AM and determined that a quorum was present. 

VanCor made a motion to approve the April 26, 2006 minutes.  Mandyck seconded the motion. Approved unanimously, with Sherman abstaining for the reason that he had not been present.

Chairman’s Report

Chairman Harrison reported that the final version of the budget adopted by the General Assembly appropriates a sum to the Council for a new part-time Environmental Analyst position.  Following discussion of the trade-offs of hiring sooner rather than later at fewer hours per week, and seeking a lower classification that would allow for more hours, the Council instructed the Executive Director to prepare a proposed job description and circulate it to members along with information on the likely job classification level, and to start as early possible on preparing the required paperwork. 

Executive Director’s Report

Wagener gave a final report on the General Assembly session. He reported on the positive outcome of the encroachment bill, and on the negative outcome of the proposal to restrict paving of discontinued roads in parks and preserves.  Several legislators offered to help with the latter before the next session, Wagener said.  Members agreed that it would be a good idea to send letters of thanks to those legislators who played key roles.  Wagener reported that the bill to require environmental review of surplus lands passed the Senate unanimously on the last evening of the session but was not taken up by the House. Wagener also summarized the outcome of other significant environmental bills, saying it was not a highly productive session for environmental advocates.  Many of their efforts depended on the adoption of the bonding bill, which was not adopted during the session and might or might not be the subject of a special session.

There was additional discussion and agreement on the need to contact legislative leaders about priorities well before the next session.

Citizen Complaints

Members discussed the topics heard at the public forum in Simsbury, as there had not been time at the April meetings.  Wagener distributed the list of topics that had been raised.  Regarding the dominant topic, the conservation of the Ethel Walker School property, Beach reported that the Trust for Public Land was reportedly still working with the school and the town.  Wagener said that the speaker from Trout Unlimited had asked if he could present more pictures of inadequate stream protection at a Council meeting, and Wagener said he had scheduled him for the June meeting.  Members agreed that the other issues were all things that needed to be monitored.  VanCor suggested that the Council should try to get an article in the newspapers of the towns where it holds forums, a few weeks after each forum, to explain what is being done.

Wagener said that complaints were piling up, and as soon as the annual report went to the printer he would turn his attention to the complaints.  He mentioned a complaint from Norwalk about a dock permit application that was reminiscent of the Ash Creek complaint of 2004, in that members of the local shellfish commission feel that they were left out of the decision-making.  He would have more information at a future meeting.

Discussion of annual report topics

Members discussed the draft of the report and offered changes.  In the discussion of the section on Council activities in 2005, members agreed that agencies involved should be identified by name. Harrison said that members would have until Friday afternoon to submit any additional minor corrections they might wish to make.  VanCor made a motion to approve the report for printing and distribution, subject to any minor changes suggested by Friday.  The motion was seconded by Beach and approved unanimously.

Harrison adjourned the meeting at 11:05.