Minutes of the April 27, 2022 meeting of the Council on Environmental Quality (Council) held in compliance with Governor Lamont’s Executive Order 7B.

MEMBERS PRESENT: Keith Ainsworth (Acting Chair), Matt Reiser, Charles Vidich, David Kalafa, Alicea Charamut, and Kip Kolesinskas.

ALSO IN ATTENDANCE: Peter Hearn (Executive Director), Paul Aresta (Environmental Analyst), and Matt Pafford (Office of Policy and Management (OPM)). Members of the public who spoke include: Ann Zitkus, Margaret Miner, Katherine Freygang, and Frank Zitkus.

1. Call to Order: Establishment of a Quorum

At 9:30 AM, Ainsworth called the meeting to order. Ainsworth took attendance and confirmed that there was a quorum of Council members present.

2. Approval of Agenda

Vidich made a motion to approve the agenda; seconded by Kalafa. The motion passed.

3. Approval of Minutes of March 23, 2022 and April 8, 2022

Vidich made a motion to approve the draft minutes of March 23, 2022 and April 8, 2022; seconded by Kalafa. The motion passed.

4. Citizen Comment Period

Ainsworth invited members of the public to speak and requested that speakers keep their comments brief. The following members of the public spoke:

• Frank Zitkus noted that a portion of the state forest in Hebron is scheduled for timber harvesting. He added that he disagrees with the representations made by staff at the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) that the proposed timber harvesting will have climate benefits.

• Katherine Freygang noted that she submitted a letter to Hearn regarding her concerns about the restoration of Housatonic Meadows State Park (HMSP). Ainsworth noted that she need not read the letter to the Council since her letter was received. Hearn added that a summary of the comments provided by Freygang are included in this meeting’s presentation.

In the interest of time and to maintain a quorum, Ainsworth noted that citizen comments will resume at the end of the meeting, if time allows.

5. Citizen Complaints and Inquiries Received

Hearn reported that he received a few complaints and inquiries:

  1. A citizen in New Canaan expressed concern about potential impacts to wetlands and watercourses resulting from a 102-unit housing project. Hearn added that Aresta investigated the proposed project and found that the application for zoning approval for the project had been withdrawn, although it was expected to be refiled. Hearn added that there is no action needed by the Council at this time.
  2. Hearn reported that he referred a business, which was interested in arranging for a short-term lease for parking, to a contact at the Department of Transportation (DOT).
  3. Hearn reported that he referred an inquiry regarding an old landfill in the Town of Mansfield to DEEP. DEEP responded that their preliminary review of the files did not indicate the presence/location of the landfill in that portion of Mansfield. Vidich noted that he might have information regarding the former landfill in Mansfield and added that he would review his files and provide the information to Hearn, if available.
  4. Hearn noted that he responded to an inquiry on whether dam removal permits include the opportunity for public comment and hearing. He responded that there are provisions for public comment and a hearing.
  5. Hearn reported that he received an update on the work of the Housatonic Meadows Preservation Action (HMPA). Hearn noted that HMPA requested that the scope of the restoration plan at HMSP also include wildlife management assessment, accommodation for trails, maintenance plan, and educational outreach be applied throughout the process. Hearn added that HMPA sent him a copy of an 8-point action plan and requested that the Council recommend that DEEP engage in a more substantive program of collaboration with HMPA. Hearn also noted that DEEP stated that restoration activities at HMSP are on hold until some resolution is reached regarding Senate Bill 117 which, if passed, could have a major effect on the funds available for parks.

Hearn questioned if the Council would support a letter to DEEP encouraging greater collaboration between DEEP and members of HMPA and other interested stakeholders. Ainsworth suggested that more collaboration would be good, but on an informal basis. Kalafa noted that there were other groups, such as Friends of Hammonasset State Park, that collaborate with DEEP to enhance state parks. Kolesinskas agreed that public–private partnerships can be beneficial but added that they are not a substitute for adequate state funding of the parks.

Hearn reviewed a summary of DEEP’s concerns regarding the current provisions of Senate Bill 117, including the potential need to close parks following widespread storm damage, the increase in costs, the fact that there are no provisions for forest fire response, and the expected disruption to routine maintenance.

6. Executive Director’s Report

  • Hearn noted that DEEP reported that there has been in increase in the number of heating oil releases in the state. Hearn added that the Council’s special report on fuel oil spills in the state noted that there were many residences in the state that heated with fuel oil and that many of the home heating oil tanks installed when the houses were built are likely near or past their life expectancy of fifteen to twenty-five years. Hearn added that DEEP is concerned that they will exhaust funds designated for emergency response of heating oil spills.

    Hearn also noted that the Department of Insurance (DOI) recently requested that DEEP revise the content on their website that addresses insurance coverage for releases of home heating oil. The DOI is also reviewing the Council’s special report to determine if the language regarding insurance coverage for the release of home heating oil is still accurate.

  • Hearn reported that the Council can begin recruiting to fill the position of environmental analyst and need not wait for that position to become vacant.

  • Hearn noted that he has received a few inquiries from the press regarding the information on the Council’s 2021 Annual Report. He added that Connecticut Magazine had several articles about Connecticut’s environment in the April issue, which included information and data provided by the Council.

7. Staff Activities

  • 2021 Annual Report

    Hearn noted that the Annual Report was provided to the Governor’s Office on April 19, a day prior to its release to the press and the public. He added that a notice of the report’s release was sent to subscribers, press contacts, environmental leaders, legislators, and environmental organizations on April 20. Vidich questioned if the Council had provided a copy of the 2021 Annual Report to the State Library. Hearn responded that he was waiting a few days to see if any corrections were needed to the Annual Report prior to providing them with an electronic and/or paper copy.

8. State Agency Actions


  • Release-based Remediation Working Group

    Aresta reported that the subcommittee completed its report and provided it to DEEP on April 4. He noted that the subcommittee’s report identified the anticipated expansion of licensed environmental professionals’ (LEPs) responsibilities will require that DEEP cede some of its authority when it comes to prior review and approval of alternative methods of demonstrating compliance with the remediation regulations. He added that DEEP would still be responsible for auditing the activities of the LEPs and that DEEP will need to provide guidance regarding LEP-implemented alternative approaches for demonstrating compliance with the remediation regulations.

  • Scoping process for tree removal/maintenance
    Hearn reported that staff had several meetings with OPM and DEEP regarding the applicability of the Connecticut Environmental Policy Act (CEPA) to tree removals and forestry operations by DEEP. Hearn added that he developed a position paper of what might constitute an “emergency”, which would exempt state actions from the CEPA scoping requirement.

  • General Permit for the Discharge of Domestic Sewage

    Hearn reported that DEEP has revised and will reissue the general permit that authorizes the discharge of domestic sewage to Publicly Owned Treatment Works (sewage treatment plants) throughout Connecticut. Hearn added that staff is not proposing comments on the notice of intent to renew the general permit but does plan to ask DEEP whether monitoring of reports has improved from when the Council did its special report in 2014 and found that there were issues with under-reporting and violations. Vidich noted that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is soliciting feedback on models for effective enforcement of alternative treatment systems (ATS).

b. Connecticut Siting Council (CSC)

  • Petitions 1498

    Aresta reported that staff reviewed Petition 1498 that was for a 2-megawatt fuel cell facility at a warehouse facility in Plainville. He added that no significant environmental effects are anticipated and no comments were recommended.

  • Petitions 1500

    Aresta reported that staff reviewed Petition 1500 that was for the shared use of an existing telecommunications facility in Old Lyme. He added that this Petition would normally be a tower sharing request, but the Petitioner proposes to extend the fence line of the existing facility compound. He added that no significant environmental effects are anticipated and no comments were recommended.

  • Petitions 1501, 1502, 1504, 1505

    Aresta reported that staff reviewed these Petitions, which consisted of the installation of telecommunications facilities on new, low-height wooden poles and that no significant environmental impacts were anticipated. No comments were recommended.

  • Petitions 1503

    Aresta reported that staff reviewed a proposal for a 750-kilowatt fuel cell facility and associated equipment to be located at Milford Hospital in Milford. He added that staff developed comments for the Petitioner to confirm that the proposed facility would be in compliance with applicable noise standards.

  • DOCKET NO. 508

    Aresta reported that staff reviewed an application by The United Illuminating Company (UI) for the proposed Milvon to West River Railroad Transmission Line 115-kV Rebuild Project that consists of the relocation and rebuild of its existing 115- kilovolt (kV) electric transmission lines from the railroad catenary structures to new steel monopole structures. He added that staff developed comments for the applicant and the Siting Council regarding protection measures for wildlife, management of contaminated soils, possible use of compensatory mitigation for the permanent wetland impacts, control of invasive species, and support for onsite inspections of all construction activities to protect environmental resources.

  • PETITION NO. 1506

    Aresta reported that staff reviewed a proposal for a grid-side 2.8-megawatt fuel cell facility to be located on a previously developed site owned by the town of Derby. He added that no significant environmental impacts were anticipated and no comments were recommended.

Kalafa made a motion to submit the comments for Petition 1503 and Docket 508 to the Siting Council; seconded by Vidich. The motion passed.

c. University of Connecticut Environmental Impact Evaluation (EIE) for Mirror Lake

Aresta reported that staff reviewed the EIE for the proposed improvements to Mirror Lake on the University of Connecticut (UConn) campus. He added that the proposed actions assessed in the EIE included improvements to the existing dam and spillway, stormwater management, hydraulic and mechanical dredging, and landscaping. Vidich questioned why UConn was undertaking the proposed actions. Aresta replied that the EIE identified deficiencies in dam safety and water quality as the primary reasons for the proposed actions. No comments are recommended.

d. Senate Bill 491

Hearn reported that Senate Bill 491 would convey a small portion of Housatonic Meadows State Park to private ownership and that proposed transfer contravenes the legislature’s previously established intent to protect state-owned open space lands and to enhance public access to those lands. He noted that a recent amendment to the State’s Constitution requires that when state land in the control of either DEEP or the Department of Agriculture is proposed to be sold or transferred it must have a public hearing and a roll call vote in the legislature. He added that draft comments were distributed that highlight 1) the history of the Legislature’s support for preservation of publicly owned open space lands, and 2) the need for open space to meet the state’s open space goals. Kalafa made a motion to submit the comments for Senate Bill 491 and to provide a copy to the Secretary of OPM and the Governor’s Office; seconded by Vidich. The motion passed.

9. Other Business

Ainsworth asked if there were any other items for discussion by Council members or the public.

Ann Zitkus noted that there would be ecological benefits and wildlife benefits if DEEP did not actively manage forests in the state. She expressed concern regarding invasive species and jumping worms. Hearn noted that DEEP claims the revenue generated from timber harvest operations on state lands pays for invasive species control. There was general discussion regarding the impacts and spread of jumping worms in the state.

Margaret Miner expressed her support for the Council’s actions regarding forest management and ATS.

Ainsworth asked for a motion to adjourn. Vidich made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 11:03 AM; seconded by Kalafa. The motion passed.

Pursuant to Executive Order 7B, a recording1 of this meeting is available by email request of the Council (email to: peter.hearn@ct.gov). (Disclaimer: The transcript associated with the meeting recording is computer-generated and may contain typos that have not been edited.)

1 (Passcode: h5&Fr9x$)