Council on Environmental Quality Meeting Minutes

Minutes of the August 23, 2023, meeting of the Council on Environmental Quality (Council).

MEMBERS PRESENT: Keith Ainsworth (Acting Chair), Charles Vidich, David Kalafa, William Warzecha, Alicea Charamut, Christopher Donnelly, Matt Reiser, and Denise Rodosevich.

ALSO IN ATTENDANCE: Paul Aresta (Executive Director), Nicholas Velseboer (Environmental Analyst), Eric Hammerling (Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP)), Martin Heft (Office of Policy and Management (OPM)), Bruce Wittchen (OPM), Rebecca Augur (OPM), Becca Dahl (OPM), Justine Phillips-Gallucci (OPM), and Matt Pafford (Department of Administrative Services (DAS)). Members of the public that spoke, including Anstress Farwell and Margaret Miner.

1. Call to Order: Establishment of a Quorum
At 9:32 AM, Ainsworth called the meeting to order, took attendance, and confirmed that there was a quorum of Council members present.

2. Martin Heft, Undersecretary, Intergovernmental Policy and Planning Division, OPM
Undersecretary Heft noted that OPM is in the process of updating the Conservation and Development Policies Plan (C&D Plan) for the period 2025 – 2030. Heft also discussed OPM’s internal process when reviewing funding for capital projects on the bonding agenda for consistency with the state’s C&D Plan, and the interaction between the state’s C&D Plan and local and regional plans of development. Heft noted that it might be helpful and more efficient to have regional plans that incorporate individual municipal plans. Ainsworth noted that a Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD) is a guidance document that intentionally allows for some flexibility but requires the municipality to undertake a planning process.

3. Approval of Minutes of July 26 2023
Vidich made a motion to approve the draft minutes of July 26, 2023; seconded by Rodosevich. The motion was approved unanimously.

4. Citizen Comment Period
Margaret Miner provided comments regarding the use of the state’s C&D Plan when trying to secure grant funds. Miner also commented on the environmental review of forest management plans for Connecticut’s forest blocks. Miner added that the environmental review and comments that the Council provided for certain blocks within the Pachaug State Forest were appropriate and suggested 1) that such reviews should be undertaken for other state forest plans, and 2) that the Council should assess the DEEP Forestry Program.

A member of the public noted that the public was not allowed to participate/observe the legislative process for the bill that established the surcharge on the miniature alcohol beverage containers. The member of the public also commented on public access to legislative and state agency meetings, the applicability of the state’s Constitution and the Freedom of Information Act, and access to public agency documents.

Anstress Farwell commented on the City of New Haven’s proposed changes to the zoning regulations for the Long Wharf area to allow high-density, mixed-use development. Farwell also commented on concerns regarding compliance with the Connecticut Coastal Management Act (CCMA), including establishing safe egress from the flood hazard area; the construction of a bioswale and flood control structures; and how storm water would be managed. Farwell questioned when an EIS would be required for a new or changed project.

Ainsworth noted that the Council would take a five-minute break at 10:54 AM. The Council meeting resumed at 10:59 AM.

5. Citizen Complaints and Inquiries Received

  • Velseboer reported that a realtor contacted the Council to obtain a copy of a soil report that was previously filed for an address they were listing. The Council contacted DEEP and provided the realtor with the contact information for the DEEP staff that might be able to assist in providing the report.
  • Velseboer reported that a citizen contacted the Council believing a giant Asian hornet nest was found on their property. The Council provided the citizen with the contact information for the state’s entomologist who responded with a reference guide and noted that the insects are most likely eastern cicada killer wasps.

  • Aresta reported that a citizen contacted the Council regarding proposed zoning changes to the Long Wharf area of New Haven. Aresta added that DEEP provided a letter to the City of New Haven expressing concerns for the proposed regulations change and map amendment. He added that Council staff reviewed the provisions of the CCMA and spoke with a representative of DEEP regarding the state’s options if DEEP’s suggested changes are not addressed by the City of New Haven. Aresta responded to a previous question regarding the applicability of an Environmental Impact Evaluation under the Connecticut Environmental Policy Act (CEPA) and noted that certain state projects/actions could be subject to CEPA depending on the type of project/action and an agency’s review of the Environmental Classification Document (ECD).

  • Velseboer reported that the Council received an inquiry from a graduate student conducting research on the Connecticut and Housatonic rivers regarding the safety of such activity because of the possible contamination from the heavy rains. The graduate student was provided with contact information for DEEP’s inland water monitoring personnel.

  • Velseboer reported that the Council received a complaint regarding the alleged dumping of grease or a grease/water mixture into a storm drain near a restaurant in Brooklyn, Connecticut. He added that the complaint was referred to DEEP’s Emergency Response and Spill Prevention Division, and DEEP indicated that their staff will investigate and respond, if appropriate.

  • Velseboer noted that the Council received a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking environmental records for the property located at 172 Kelsey Street, Newington. He added that the Council will review the hardcopy files and DEEP will search the emails of the former executive directors for any electronic communications.

6. Executive Director’s Report

  • Aresta reported that he received the expenditures report for the Connecticut Lakes, Rivers and Ponds Preservation account (Account) from fiscal year (FY) 2020/2021 through FY 2022/23. He added that the amount expended for that period was approximately $365,000, mostly for grants, and the balance on the Account through June 21, 2023 was approximately $786,000.

  • Aresta reported that draft comments have been developed regarding the state’s revised C&D Plan with recommendations to address 1) climate change mitigation and adaption with a focus on policies and priorities identified as “near term actions” from the Governor’s Council on Climate Change (GC3) Phase I report; 2) certain indicators in the Council’s annual report; and 3) policies that encourage development strategies that protect human health and the environment, create economic opportunities, and provide attractive and affordable neighborhoods for people of all income levels, which are consistent with smart growth concepts.

  • Aresta reported that the Council received notices for the reconstruction of three local road bridges in the town of Mansfield and one local road bridge in the town of Bethlehem. He summarized the environmental issues associated with each of the four proposed projects and noted that draft comments have been developed for the three bridge projects in the Town of Mansfield that address consultation with DEEP for the protection of fisheries resources and wildlife, adherence to the Department of Public Health’s (DPH) General Construction Best Management Practices for Sites within a Public Drinking Water Supply Area (BMPs), and the protection of wetlands.

    Kalafa made a motion to approve the draft comments for the three local bridge projects in the town of Mansfield and the comments for the revised C&D Plan; seconded by Warzecha. Vidich suggested that the comments for Juniper Lane Bridge/Atwoodville Road Bridge should be revised to recommend adherence to the DPH’s BMPs. Rodosevich suggested adding water conservation to the draft comments for the revised C&D Plan. Kalafa made a motion to amend the original motion to revise the draft comments as suggested by Vidich for the Juniper Lane Bridge/ Atwoodville Road Bridge, and as suggested by Rodosevich for the revised C&D Plan; seconded by Warzecha. The motion was approved unanimously. The amended motion to approve the revised draft comments for the three local bridge projects and the C&D Plan was also approved unanimously.

  • Aresta reported that Council staff developed a letter and paper form, as well as an online form for capturing information related to the municipalities’ use of the surcharge fee on miniature alcohol beverage containers. He added that the Council staff also developed a list of the chief elected officials/managers and finance officials for every town that received funds from the surcharge fee to enable an email campaign.

  • Aresta reported that the South-Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority (SCCRWA) intends to transfer/sell two parcels in North Branford to the North Branford Land Conservation Trust. He added that no comments are recommended, and a public hearing is scheduled for September 28 at 7:00 PM at the North Branford Town Hall.

  • Aresta noted that there is a new public act (Public Act 23-204, Section 69 or Special Act 23-15) that established a working group to study the State Historic Preservation Officer's role in administering historic preservation review processes. He added that the working group membership includes a representative from the Council and Denise Rodosevich has been appointed to the working group by the Governor.

7. State Agency Actions


  • Release-Based Remediation Program – update
    Aresta summarized the August 8 meeting of the Release-Based Remediation Working Group and noted that DEEP discussed immediate releases and how such incidents fit in with the proposed roadmap and checklist. Aresta added that the meeting included a review of actions required for Emergent Reportable Releases (“ERR”), and a review of different types of releases, including home heating oil and Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) chemicals. Aresta added that the next meeting of the Working Group is scheduled for September 12, 2023, and that draft regulations are expected by the end of 2023.

  • Sustainable, Transparent, and Efficient Practices for Solar Siting (STEPS) initiative and Statewide Shared Clean Energy Facility (SCEF) Program
    Aresta reported that the draft comments for the STEPs initiative and the SCEF program were revised and address the following key points: 1) the Council does not support a recommendation by DEEP for a bid preference for agrivoltaics on “important farmland” for commercial (front of the meter) applications for year 5 of the SCEF Program; 2) the Council strongly supports the development of zero-emission energy sources on appropriate developed sites, such as rooftops, carports, parking areas, landfills, brownfields, etc.; and 3) the nameplate capacity for solar projects should be in the range of two to five megawatts (MW).

    Vidich made a motion to approve the revised draft comments for the STEPS initiative and the SCEF program; seconded by Kalafa. The motion was approved unanimously.

  • Offshore Wind and Zero Carbon Procurements - Draft Request for Proposals
    Aresta reported that comments were developed and submitted for the draft zero-carbon RFP on August 8, 2023, that addressed several provisions including protection of ridgelines; erosion and sedimentation control on steep slopes; support for the reuse and redevelopment of existing sites, including landfills, brownfields and grayfields; protection of core forest and prime farmland soils; protection of ecological and natural resources, including endangered, threatened or special concern species in all jurisdictions, a preference for analysis of environmental criteria; and certain legal provisions.

  • Notice of Intent to Amend Air Quality Regulations and Revise the State Implementation Plan
    Aresta summarized the proposed changes to the air quality regulations and State Implementation Plan, which includes provisions for 1) more stringent emission requirements for light-duty, medium-duty, and heavy-duty internal combustion engines (ICE), and 2) for vehicle manufacturers to progressively increase the sale of advanced technology vehicles, including battery electric vehicles from 2027 through 2035.

b. Connecticut Siting Council (CSC)

  • Docket 517 (telecom, Redding) - Comments recommended
    Aresta reported that he reviewed a proposal by MCM Holdings LLC to construct and operate a 150-foot monopole telecommunications tower facility on an approximately 174-acre parcel of land owned by the Connecticut Yankees Council Inc. (Boy Scouts of America) in the Town of Redding. He summarized the land use and environmental characteristics of the proposed site and noted that draft comments have been developed that address protection of wetlands and erosion and sedimentation (E&S) controls.

    Vidich made a motion to approve the draft comments for Docket 517; seconded by Warzecha. The motion was approved unanimously.

  • Petition 1278B (fuel cell, North Haven) – No comments recommended at this time
    Aresta reported that he reviewed a proposal by Bloom Energy for modifications of the existing facility at the Medtronic Complex located at 195 McDermott Road in North Haven, including the construction and operation of a 2,000-kilowatt (kW) fuel cell and associated equipment. He summarized the land use and environmental characteristics of the site.

  • Petition 1587 (battery, Cheshire) – No comments recommended at this time
    Aresta reported that he reviewed a proposal by Endurant Energy for a 4.9-MW/9.8-megawatt-hour (MWh) Battery Energy Storage System, electrical interconnection, and associated equipment at a manufacturing facility at 350 Knotter Drive in Cheshire. He summarized the land use and environmental characteristics of the proposed site.

  • Petition 1588 (battery, Windsor) - No comments recommended at this time
    Aresta reported that he reviewed a proposal by Endurant Energy for a 7.0-MW /14.0-MWh Battery Energy Storage System and associated equipment to be located at a ferrous sand foundry at 22 Deerfield Road in Windsor. He summarized the land use and environmental characteristics of the proposed site.

c. Department of Transportation

  • Environmental Impact Evaluation (EIE) for the Route 7 / Route 15 Interchange, Norwalk
    Velseboer reviewed the EIE for the proposed project that involves the modification of the Route 7 and Route 15 interchange in Norwalk and summarized the environmental characteristics of the proposed project area. He added that draft comments have been developed that address possible mitigation for the proposed permanent impacts to wetlands, the potential for traffic noise resulting from bridge expansion joints on the proposed bridges, which was the subject of a previous citizen complaint to the Council, and stormwater. Ainsworth and Vidich noted that compensatory wetland creation is not ideal, and the values and functions of wetlands usually cannot be replaced. Vidich suggested that if wetland creation is employed, the compensation should be greater than a one-for-one replacement. Ainsworth suggested revising the draft comments to recommend that avoidance should be a priority; then restoration and enhancement of existing wetlands, within the proposed project area or along the Route 7/Route 15 corridor; and lastly, consideration of compensatory wetland creation on greater than one-to-one basis.

    Vidich made a motion to approve the revised draft comments for the DOT EIE; seconded by Charamut. The motion was approved unanimously.

8. Other Business

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

Vidich made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 11:54 AM; seconded by Charamut. The motion was approved unanimously.

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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