Council on Environmental Quality Meeting Minutes

Minutes of the March 23, 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, William Warzecha, 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: Emery Gluck, Ann Zitkus, Michael Nadeau, Susan Masino, 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 Warzecha. The motion passed.

3. Approval of Minutes of February 23, 2022
Kalafa made a motion to approve the draft minutes of February 23, 2022; seconded by Vidich. The motion passed.

4. Chair’s Report
Ainsworth noted that there are a few applicants for the Council’s executive director position and that interviews will be scheduled soon. Ainsworth added that a special meeting might be necessary for the purposes of discussing personnel matters prior to the next regularly scheduled Council meeting in April.

5. Citizen Comment Period
Ainsworth invited members of the public to speak and requested that speakers introduce themselves. The following members of the public spoke:

  • Emery Gluck spoke of the need for forest management to promote pitch pine and scrub oak;
  • Michael Nadeau suggested revisions to Raised Bill 117, including a change to the definition of an arborist, the elimination of certain exemptions to the proposed bill, additional notice requirements, the need for photographic evidence of hazard trees, replacement of trees with compatible species, and recognition of the impacts of tree removal on climate change;
  • Ann Zitkus spoke of the potential threat posed by “jumping” worms to soil health;
  • Susan Masino spoke of the need for 1) land preservation strategies, including old growth forests, and 2) a policy on the best use of wood/lumber when trees are removed; and
  • Frank Zitkus spoke of the need for tree preservation rather than tree removal and he was concerned about tree removal activities of the Department of Transportation and the electric distribution companies. 

Ainsworth noted that the management of vegetation by the electric distribution companies is reviewed and regulated by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA).

6. Citizen Complaints and Inquiries Received 
Hearn reported that he received a few complaints and inquiries:

  1. Development near wetlands in Newtown and Preston - Hearn stated that the proposed development in Newtown is a 350,000 square foot building with75 truck loading bays, more than 350 parking spaces and spaces for 50 tractor trailers at the proposed facility. He also noted that the proposed development in Preston is a 300-space recreational vehicle (RV) campsite. He added that he informed the residents that inland wetlands were regulated by the municipality and that it was not a state issue.
  2. A change to archaeological guidelines -  Hearn noted that he received a request for support for a revision of  the 1987 Environmental Review Primer for Connecticut's Archaeological Resources to include a reference to Native American stone structures. Hearn reported that in 2016, the Council was informed by a Native American group that the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s (DEEP) had not complied with a statutory requirement to review its policies and practices for consistency with the preservation and study of the state’s archaeological sites and sacred lands and sites, as required by statute (CGS Section 10-387).  Hearn added that the Council wrote to Commissioner Klee informing him of the issue and requesting certain actions to remedy the situation moving forward. The actions were implemented with successful results.
  3. Construction near the Middletown reservoir – Hearn responded to the resident that the construction near the Middletown Reservoir is likely related to the Durham Meadows Waterline Project. That project includes the installation of approximately 30,000 linear feet of water main and an 800,000-gallon water storage tank to bring clean water from Middletown to 120 local homes and businesses in Durham that have been affected by their proximity to a federal superfund site.

7. Executive Director’s Report

  • Development of Hazard Tree Mitigation Policy and the Connecticut Environmental Policy Act

Hearn reviewed the actions undertaken by the Council regarding DEEP’s Hazard Tree Mitigation Policy since the last meeting, including:

  • participated in a meeting with Deputy Commissioner Trumble to discuss the Housatonic Meadows event and general guidelines for emergency tree removal;
  • finalized and distributing to Commissioner Dykes, OPM and others, the Council’s white paper: “The Importance of a CEPA review to state sponsored forestry, forest management and tree maintenance in Connecticut”;
  • met with DEEP and OPM to discuss implementation of the white paper’s recommendations;
  • participated in DEEP’s public meeting via Zoom regarding DEEP’s hazard tree policy; and
  • developed draft comments on DEEP’s Hazard Tree Policy.

Hearn then reviewed certain provisions of Raised Bill 117 that includes, but is not limited to: the use of arborists, notice requirements, public hearings on proposed actions, and specific considerations prior to tree or shrub removal. Hearn added that Raised Bill 117 was reported favorably out of the Environmental Committee. He added that the Council’s comments on Raised Bill 117 addressed support for consultation with arborist for the removal of trees and shrubs and for signage as notice, but also notice through the Connecticut Environmental Policy Act (CEPA) process, which already provides a structure that addresses most of the Raised Bill’s key issues.

Hearn noted that DEEP is seeking input from the public to develop a Hazard Tree Mitigation Policy, regarding the application of the policy, the area of significance where the policy should be applied, how the hazard trees should be identified, and how best to engage the public in the process. Hearn added that the Council’s draft comments in response to DEEP’s request for input, which were distributed to Council members in advance of the meeting, are due on March 29. Kolesinskas noted that he is supportive of the draft comments and that greatest cause of tree removals across the state is sprawl development that is caused by poor planning. Kalafa expressed support for the draft comments and made a motion to submit the comments to DEEP; seconded by Kolesinskas. The motion passed unanimously.

Break - Ainsworth noted that the Council would take a short break at 10:23 AM and would resume again at 10:28 AM.

8. Staff Activities

  • Raised Bills’ Comments submitted

    Hearn reported that comments for House Bill 5296, Senate Bill 4, and Senate Bill 243 were submitted to the Connecticut Legislature. He reviewed the key points of the proposed legislation that the Council’s comments addressed.

  • 2021 Annual Report
    Aresta reported that most of the comments received from Council members regarding the initial draft of the Annual Report had been incorporated in the revised draft Annual Report. He noted that more information was obtained regarding the tons of recycled content, the average nitrogen discharges for 2021, and a revised map depicting the spread of emerald ash borer. He added that new information regarding DEEP’s enforcement statistics was still pending. Kolesisnkas noted that he had a few minor comments regarding the revised draft Annual Report and he requested that content regarding the 50th anniversary of the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Act and the reasons for the decline in turtle populations be added to the revised draft report. Vidich made a motion to approve the revised draft Annual Report, subject to minor revisions to the text that were discussed; seconded by Warzecha. The motion passed unanimously.

9. State Agency Actions


  • Release-based Remediation Working Group 
    Aresta reported that the subcommittee for possible LEP-implemented, risk-based alternative clean-up standards has worked over the last month to develop a report on establishing alternative risk-based, clean-up standards. He added that Raised Senate Bill 102 would require the commissioner of DEEP to provide a draft of the revised  Release-based Remediation regulations to members of the working group prior to posting notice on the eRegulations System to allow for comments/feedback. Ainsworth added that some members of the working group had concerns regarding the adoption of the revised regulations. Hearn noted that he and Ainsworth have been participating in the working group and certain subcommittees. Due to his pending retirement, he suggested that Aresta be designated as one of the Council’s representatives to the working group and any subcommittees. Vidich made a motion to designate Aresta as one of the Council’s representatives to the working group and any subcommittees; seconded by Kalafa. All concurred and the motion was passed.

  • Environmental Impact Evaluation (EIE) for the Ox Brook Flood Control Master Plan
    Aresta reported that staff reviewed the EIE for phase 1 of the Ox Brook Flood Control Master Plan, which would involve the reconstruction of a dam and impoundment at Elton Rodgers Park in Bridgeport. Aresta added that the Council’s draft comments concerned an on-site survey for state-listed species, provisions for the control of invasive species, assessment of the impacts the vernal pool located north of the existing dam, and provided a notification that United Illuminating will be doing work nearby. Vidich made a motion to submit the comments regarding the EIE to DEEP; seconded by Warzecha. The motion passed with all voting in favor.

b. Connecticut Siting Council (CSC)

  • Petitions 1489 
    Aresta reported that staff reviewed Petition 1489 that was for the approval of four gas-fired emergency generating devices. He added that the units were already installed and that the Petitioner planned to undertake mitigation measures on one of the buildings to ensure compliance with applicable noise standards. No comments were recommended.

  • Petitions 1491, 1494, 1495, and 1496
    Aresta reported that staff reviewed these petitions, which consisted of the installation of telecommunications facilities on existing towers or on new, low-height wooden poles and that no significant environmental impacts were anticipated. No comments were recommended.

  • Petitions 1493 and 1497 
    Aresta reported that staff reviewed these two petitions that involved the installation of fuel cells at existing hospitals in Waterbury and Bridgeport. The proposed fuel cells would be installed on previously developed areas and no significant environmental impacts were anticipated. No comments were recommended.

  • Petition 1492
    Aresta reported that a solar photovoltaic facility with the capacity of 1.99 MW is being proposed at 486 Fitch Hill Road in Montville (Uncasville). The proposed project would be constructed on approximately 15 acres of a 210-acre parcel. He added that the proposed project, as designed, would require the removal 14.26 acres of forest for the solar panels and above ground interconnection, which would eliminate 18 acres of core forest. He added that the Council’s draft comments address wildlife, prime farmland soils, groundwater, core forest and wetlands/vernal pool. Vidich made a motion to submit the comments for Petition 1492 to the Siting Council; seconded by Kolesinskas. The motion passed. 

c. University of Connecticut and scoping for historic building

Hearn reviewed a letter that was sent from Preservation Connecticut to OPM regarding the University of Connecticut’s (UConn) scoping process for the South Campus Residence Hall Project. Preservation Connecticut alleged that the scoping materials posted by UConn did not identify the potential effects of the proposed action on historic resources. He added that OPM reviewed the scoping process and indicated in a response to Preservation Connecticut that  UConn’s proposed action was appropriately noticed and that the next step in that process will be to consider comments received and to publish a Post-Scoping Notice. Ainsworth noted that there needs to be a balance between the need for on-campus housing and the preservation of historic resources. Vidich questioned which building would potentially be impacted by the proposed action. Hearn responded that the building is located at 4 Gilbert Road in Mansfield.

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

Vidich questioned if there was any action on the appointment of new Council members to fill the two vacancies on the Council. Ainsworth and Hearn indicated that they were aware of one individual who was interested in serving on the Council, but no appointments have been made. Kalafa suggested that Hearn should consider serving on the Council, after his retirement, as his experience and knowledge would be of great value to the Council.

Ainsworth asked for a motion to adjourn. Vidich made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 11:07 AM; seconded by Warzecha. The motion passed.

Pursuant to Executive Order 7B, a recording1  of this meeting is available by email request of the Council (email to: 

[1] (Passcode: L6=p?G+D)