Minutes of the June 28, 2007 meeting of the Council on Environmental Quality, held in the Holcombe Conference Room, 79 Elm Street, Hartford. 

PRESENT:  Thomas Harrison (Chairman), Howard Beach, John Mandyck, Barbara Wagner, Wes Winterbottom, Earl Phillips, Karl Wagener (Executive Director), Peter Hearn (Environmental Analyst) 

Chairman Harrison convened the meeting at 10:10 AM and determined that a quorum was present. 

Mr. Winterbottom made a motion to approve the May 23, 2007 minutes.  Second by Wagner.  Approved unanimously. 

Executive Director’s Report

Wagener reported on new legislation regarding the procedures for state transfer of surplus lands. The legislation requires that notice of transfers be posted in the Environmental Monitor for comment prior to the transfer. It provides that DEP shall review these transfers with regard to their potential suitability for preservation.  Similar legislation had been recommended by CEQ in Preserved But Not Protected.

This will require a slight redesign of the Environmental Monitor and some effort on the part of the submitting agency to include public comments in their submission as required by statute.  Staff will draft a submission form for use by the agencies.  The law becomes effective October 1, so the new design will have to be in place by then.  Wagener’s target is to have a form available by September.

Governor Rell signed the bill this week that creates a farmland preservation advisory committee and “lump sum” funding for farmland preservation. Under current law, each farmland development rights acquisition requires a separate action by the bond commission.

The annual report was presented to the Governor’s office on Tuesday. The Legislature will get copies after the press conference and a PDF version will be available on the Council’s website. A more interactive version will soon be on the site.  A postcard will be sent to those who used to get the printed version notifying them of the availability of the web version, which will have many links for people seeking additional information.

Citizen Complaints

A discussion of the complaints from the May public forum was postponed until next month when there would be more time to discuss possible responses to the comments. A letter was sent to each person who spoke in May, thanking them for taking the time to attend and for offering their thoughts.

Two letters were distributed that summarized DEP action on the Farmington wetland complaint.  The letter to the original complainant implied that the DEP could not afford to dedicate the resources to a scientific investigation of whether a wetlands violation had occurred on the site more than 10 years ago.  Wagener mentioned that he spoke to DEP staff about the potential deterrent value of a sanction, but the DEP staff did not concur that the effort to document a violation would yield any benefits.  Mandyck suggested that the Council send a letter of disappointment; members concurred.  The letter to the Town of Farmington pointed out several inadequacies in the town’s previous responses. 

According to news accounts, which staff distributed, sentiment in Farmington is divided between splitting the wetlands responsibility off from the Planning and Zoning Commission and keeping the responsibilities with one commission. 

Mr. Mandyck suggested that the next public forum be held in Farmington.

Review of State Agency Projects

Comments on the South Windsor I-291 Gateway Project Environmental Impact Evaluation (EIE) that had been reviewed by the Council were submitted to the Department of Economic and Community Development.

East Haven Rifle Range – An EIE had been received for the East Haven Rifle Range enhancement. No comments were recommended by staff.  In response to a question from the Council, Mr. Glenn Elliot, an environmental analyst with the Connecticut Military Department who was in the audience, explained the process by which lead is captured and recycled.

Hartford Area Sewer Project – The Metropolitan District sewer project EIE was also reviewed. Wagener pointed out that the maximum storm water capacity of the sewer system will only be the “one year” storm.  The EIE was unusually brief for such a large project, but Wagener said it appeared to address the impacts adequately.

The Green Plan - Wagener reported that he learned recently that the DEP had completed a draft of its 5 yr Green Plan revision as mandated by statute. It is on the DEP web site for comments until June 29. However since the statute states that the plan should be created in consultation with CEQ, DEP staff had indicated that they would extend the comment period until mid July for CEQ as well as for others. Wagener said that staff would be attending a meeting on the draft that afternoon.  Robert Kaliszewski, Director of the DEP’s Office of Planning and Program Development, briefly discussed the plan and the procedure for revising it, and said that it is not a finished product and that he would look forward to the Council’s input.

Chairman Harrison adjourned the meeting at 10:44 to allow the news media to set up for the Council’s 11:00 news conference.