Minutes of the January 24, 2007 meeting of the Council on Environmental Quality, held in the Phoenix Auditorium, 79 Elm Street, Hartford.

PRESENT:   Thomas Harrison (Chairman), John Mandyck, Richard Sherman, Norman VanCor, Wesley Winterbottom, Karl Wagener (Executive Director).

Chairman Harrison convened the meeting at 9:08 AM and determined that a quorum was present. 

Winterbottom made a motion to approve the December 20, 2006 minutes.  Second by Mandyck.  Approved unanimously.

Chairman’s Report

Chairman Harrison noted that the application deadline for the environmental analyst position had passed, and that Wagener hoped to interview candidates soon. 

Harrison suggested that the Council look more comprehensively at state spending on environmental protection, as so many individual problems recently have come down to a lack of funds.  Members concurred that comparing the cost of meeting the state’s environmental goals to actual expenditures is a project the Council should pursue as soon as possible.  Mandyck suggested the Council could estimate the extent to which each need is being met; members concurred that such a gap analysis would be useful.

Executive Director’s Report

Wagener and the members discussed possible format changes for the annual report.  Members concurred that Wagener should try to use the funds not spent because of the hiring delay on a plan to design a web-based report.  VanCor suggested, and others agreed that a separate work session with interested members and the designer would be valuable.  Wagener said he would set one up and would notify the members.

Wagener and the members reviewed the lists of current bills that reflect previous Council recommendations.  Members concurred that the Council would pursue funding for the control of invasive species, environmental review of surplus state lands, updating the Stream Channel Encroachment Line statutes to provide for public hearings, and establishing lump sum funding for the farmland preservation program. 

VanCor reported on a meeting he and Wagener had with Representative Richard Roy, Chairman of the General Assembly’s Environment Committee, that covered some of the issues above.  He also referred to the memo that he and Earl Phillips had submitted in January 2006 with recommendations for improving communications to the governor and legislature.  After discussion of the need for more members to be active in this, Harrison said he would like to schedule a large portion of an upcoming meeting to discuss this and other matters related to the Council’s mission.

The agenda was re-ordered to make sure the guests would have an uninterrupted time for their presentations.

Review of State Agency Projects

Rentschler Field Redevelopment – Mandyck recused himself for the reason of a potential conflict of interest.  Wagener referred to the section of the Record of Decision for this project.  After considerable discussion, members agreed that Wagener should convey to the Office of Policy and Management, when asked, that the Environmental Impact Evaluation could be approved if two conditions were included.  Those conditions are 1) the sponsoring agency’s taking ultimate responsibility for the success of habitat mitigation efforts regardless of what agency manages the efforts, and 2) the assurance that the project will accommodate the proposed greenway, and ideally should include the greenway.

Colchester Maintenance and Repair Facility – Wagener described the project and said he had reviewed the Environmental Impact Evaluation for this project and found it to provide an adequate description of impacts; no comments were required.

Tree Clearing on DOT Rights of Way – Members discussed the letter received from Commissioner of Transportation Ralph Carpenter in response to the Council’s letter.  They agreed that the letter, despite an apparent small misunderstanding as the circumstances should require notification of municipalities, required no response.

Citizen Complaints

Harrison invited Margaret Miner of the Rivers Alliance of Connecticut and Herb Gram of Citizens for a Clean Hammonasset to speak at the table.  Ms. Miner said that in light of the information the DEP had published about the frequent non-compliance of so-called package wastewater treatment systems that a moratorium on new permits would be in order.  Mr. Gramm presented information, with handouts, that showed that data was incomplete on these systems because at least two were installed (at Madison High School and a Stop and Shop) without permits and relevant data are not collected by the DEP.   These might make sense where they are needed to correct an existing problem, but the manufacturers should be held responsible for their success.  In the case of the proposal at the former Griswold Airport, he suggested that the nutrients discharged would enhance the growth of invasive species in the marshes.  Mr. Gram also mentioned that while Bostitch had been cited for a violation, the condition had not been corrected.  He also mentioned a recent report from the Barnstable Health District that questions the efficacy of the systems.   Members agreed that this warranted careful investigation, and Winterbottom agreed to help Wagener analyze the facts.  Members thanked Ms. Miner and Mr. Gram for bringing this information to the Council.

Harrison adjourned the meeting at 11:30.