Council on Environmental Quality Meeting Minutes

Minutes of the June 22, 2022 meeting of the Council on Environmental Quality (Council) held in compliance with Public Act 22-3

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

ALSO IN ATTENDANCE: Paul Aresta (Executive Director), Matt Pafford (Office of Policy and Management (OPM)) and Lisette Stone (Department of Public Health (DPH)). Members of the public: Attorney David Sherwood, Dr. Michael Klemens, and Frank Zitkus.

1. Call to Order: Establishment of a Quorum
At 9:31 AM, Ainsworth called the meeting to order, took attendance, and confirmed that there was a quorum of Council members present. 

2. Approval of Agenda
Ainsworth noted that there were two suggested additions to the meeting agenda: Connecticut Siting Council (CSC) Petition 1521 and CSC Docket 509. Warzecha made a motion to approve the agenda with the addition of CSC Petition 1521 and CSC Docket 509; seconded by Kalafa. The motion passed.

3. Approval of Minutes of May 25, 2022
Vidich made a motion to approve the draft minutes of May 25, 2022; seconded by Kolesinskas. The motion passed.

4. Citizen Comment Period

  • Frank Zitkus commented on the proposed harvesting of trees on a portion of state forest land in Hebron. He added that the trees provide for carbon storage, enhance soil health, and provide habitat for species of special concern.

  • Attorney Sherwood noted that he represents parties to the CSC Docket 509 and he asked the Council to consider providing comments to the CSC. Sherwood added that there are concerns about the impact of the proposed project on water quality, wetlands, the Centennial Watershed State Forest, state-listed species, erosion, and the nearby public water supply.

  • Dr. Klemens also expressed concerns regarding the project proposed in CSC Docket 509, including the potential environmental impacts associated with removing trees from the proposed site and the potential impacts on water quality and habitat.

5. Citizen Complaints and Inquiries Received 
Aresta reported that he received a few complaints and inquiries:

  1. Aresta stated that a resident of Westport contacted the Council last month regarding a noise complaint associated with the rehabilitation of a bridge by the Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT). DOT responded that noise monitoring or noise abatement was not required because the project was not a Type 1 project. Aresta reported that DOT also asserts that the concrete and the expansion joints that were used were not expected to increase noise. He responded to the resident with that information. Aresta added that there is no way to determine if noise levels increased because no noise measurements were taken before the project.

  2. Aresta stated that he received a complaint from a resident regarding the provision of pet waste bags and trash collection at Eagles Landing State Park in Haddam. Aresta referred the inquiry to the State Parks Division at the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).

6. Executive Director’s Report

  • Aresta reported that the Governor issued a press release regarding the acquisition of 1,013 acres through the state’s Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program and the Urban Green and Community Gardens Grant Program. He added that a member of the press contacted the Council regarding the open space acquisition and the Annual Report data.

  • Aresta noted that Matt Pafford will be moving from OPM to the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) and that Bruce Wittchen will handle issues related to the Connecticut Environmental Policy Act (CEPA) going forward.

  • Aresta stated that both Charles Vidich and Alicea Charamut presented on a webinar on June 8 regarding Rivers and Watercourses - The Importance of Riparian Zones. He added that the webinar recording is available and he provided the link to the recording in the chat box.

  • Aresta noted that DEEP has the required forms needed to process the request for a new Environmental Analyst for the Council. He added that it might take a little time for the hiring process since it has been reported that over 4,000 state employees have retired since the beginning of the year.

  • Aresta reported that he received a press inquiry regarding solar siting in Connecticut from He added that he provided the reporter with information on the jurisdiction of solar siting in Connecticut and DEEP’s efforts to improve the siting of solar projects for state-issued requests for proposals.

  • Aresta stated that he will likely be meeting with representatives from OPM and DEEP to continue the discussion regarding forestry/tree actions and the draft Hazard Tree Mitigation Plan, which is required by August 1.

  • Aresta stated that he reviewed the Record of Decision for the Ox Brook Flood Control Master Plan and that he has no comments.

At 10:17 AM, Ainsworth paused the meeting for a break and resumed the meeting at 10:22 AM.

7. State Agency Actions 

  • Draft 2022 Connecticut Integrated Water Quality Report
    Aresta stated that he reviewed the Draft 2022 Connecticut Integrated Water Quality Report and noted that there was a high number of new river segments (182) added to the 2022 Draft Report. He added that there was not a significant increase in water quality since the 2020 Final Report and that while there was a small increase in river miles that fully support the designated use of aquatic life, substantially more river miles went from fully supporting to not supporting for recreation. Vidich questioned whether the rivers that did not meet the designated use for recreation were dispersed throughout the state or located in a particular area of the state. Aresta responded that he did not perform that type of analysis. Kolesinskas suggested revising the draft letter to recommend that DEEP assess the geographic distribution of rivers that did not meet the designated use for recreation. Vidich made a motion to submit the revised letter with Kolesinskas’ suggestion to DEEP; seconded by Reiser. The motion passed.

  • CT Coalition for Sustainable Materials Management (CCSMM) – beverage container deposit redemption program -  update
    Aresta provided an update on recent changes to the legislation for the beverage container deposit redemption program and progress in establishing redemption centers in advance of the increase in the bottle deposit to 10 cents on January 1, 2024. Aresta added that the DEEP Commissioner recently issued a draft order regarding the labeling of deposit beverage containers and that no comments are recommended.

b. Connecticut Siting Council (CSC)

  • Petition 1518 - Aresta reported that he reviewed the proposal for the installation of antennas on the existing tower and the expansion of the existing facility compound to accommodate the proposed equipment. No significant adverse environmental impacts are anticipated.

  • Petition 1519 – Aresta reported that he reviewed the proposal for a 300-kW fuel cell in the parking area of the University of New Haven.  He added that the site is developed and the proposed equipment would be compliant with applicable noise standards. No significant adverse environmental impacts are anticipated.

  • Petition 1520 – Aresta reported that he reviewed the proposal for a 500-kilowatt fuel cell at New Milford Hospital in New Milford. He added that the site is developed and the proposed equipment would be compliant with applicable noise standards when a 6-foot tall fence is installed north of the proposed fuel cell. No significant adverse environmental impacts are anticipated.

  • Petition 1521 -– Aresta noted that this item was added to the agenda at the beginning of the meeting and he added that he reviewed the proposal for the replacement of an existing 101-foot monopole tower with a new 108.5-foot monopole tower on the same property.  He added that the new tower would be located approximately 50 feet south of the existing tower within an approximately 2,000 square foot compound.  No significant adverse environmental impacts are anticipated.

  • Docket 510 -  Aresta reported that he reviewed the proposal for a 124-foot monopole telecommunications tower within an approximately 35’x 60' fenced equipment compound on an approximately 2-acre parcel.  He reviewed the details of the proposed project and noted that no comments are recommended at this time.

  • Docket 3B -  Aresta reported that he is reviewing a proposal from The United Illuminating Company (UI) for the replacement of a portion of the existing Derby – Shelton 115-kV electric transmission line facility. He added that the Applicant proposes to relocate two existing towers from within Osbornedale State Park (Park) in Derby to just outside of the Park, to expand the utility right-of-way (ROW) through the Park, and to remove trees adjacent to the ROW. Ainsworth expressed concern about the loss of use or alteration of the Park resulting from the expansion of the ROW. Ainsworth suggested that the Applicant could compensate the state for the loss of use of a portion of the Park by adding additional land to the Park and/or compensating for the loss of use through a supplemental environmental project. Staff will monitor the record for additional information and will draft comments for the July 27 Council meeting.

  • Docket 509 - Aresta noted that this item was added to the agenda at the beginning of the meeting and was also reviewed at the last meeting. Warzecha questioned whether blasting would be necessary to construct the proposed project. Aresta indicated that he did not believe blasting was required. Kolesinskas noted his concern regarding the removal of trees and the potential for erosion. Vidich questioned whether there was an alternative access road configuration and added that he is also concerned about water quality and the proximity of the proposed project to the Laurel Reservoir. Kalafa suggested that the Council could draft comments recommending that the CSC examine the storm water management design during the application process and not wait until the Development and Management Plan (D&M Plan). Ainsworth added that while the Supreme Court has upheld the D&M Plan review process, it doesn’t provide as much opportunity for public engagement. There was additional discussion regarding the timing for the submittal of comments to the CSC by the Council. Vidich suggested having Aresta develop comments highlighting the Council’s concerns and that if additional comments are needed, they can be addressed at the next Council meeting. Kalafa made a motion to authorize Aresta to draft comments and submit them to the CSC for Docket 509; seconded by Vidich. The motion passed.

8. Other Business 

Kalafa asked about the status of the Environmental Analyst position. Aresta responded that DEEP has the required forms and that he believes the next step is that DAS will review the forms and determine whether to move forward with the job announcement. Ainsworth added that there are still two vacancies on the Council.

Ainsworth asked if there were any other items for discussion by Council members. There were no other comments.

Vidich made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 11:24 AM; seconded by Warzecha. The motion passed.

A recording of this meeting is available here1 and by email request of the Council (email to: (Disclaimer: The transcript associated with the meeting recording is computer-generated and may contain typos that have not been edited.)

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