Council on Environmental Quality Meeting Minutes

Minutes of the January 25, 2023 meeting of the Council on Environmental Quality (Council) held in compliance with Public Act 22-3. 

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

ALSO IN ATTENDANCE: Paul Aresta (Executive Director). Member of the public that spoke: Gretl Gallicchio, Lorena Venegas, and Zbig Grabowski.

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

2. Approval of Minutes of December 14, 2022
Vidich made a motion to approve the draft minutes of December 14, 2022; seconded by Warzecha. The motion was approved unanimously with Kalafa abstaining because he was not present at the previous meeting.

3. Chair’s Report
Ainsworth noted that there are several bills that have been proposed by legislators and that Council members could provide comments individually or suggest that comments be submitted on behalf of the Council. Ainsworth also noted that he drafted a letter that was sent to the Governor informing him that there were two vacancies on the Council that were appointments of the Governor. Ainsworth described his efforts to identify and recruit members to serve on the Council. 

4. Citizen Comment Period

  • Gretl Gallicchio commented on environmental issues associated with the proposed expansion of the Tweed New Haven Airport and the potential impacts the proposed expansion could have on climate resiliency. Gallicchio added that there are also concerns regarding the transparency of the process and the accountability of the Tweed New Haven Airport Authority.

    Charamut and Kolesinskas commented on certain proposed projects and the need to implement the recommendations developed through the Governor’s Council on Climate Change (GC3) process for climate adaption and resiliency. Kolesinskas made a motion encouraging consideration of climate change and effective resiliency and adaption strategies for state-funded and/or state-regulated projects; seconded by Charamut. The motion was approved unanimously.

  • Lorena Venegas commented on the socio-economic conditions of the Town of East Haven and concerns regarding stormwater, the expansion of the Tweed New Haven Airport, air and noise pollution, access to information and environmental studies, impacts to wildlife, and flood control.

  • Zbig Grabowski commented that the University of Connecticut is looking to expand technical assistance to local issues, and he highlighted the importance of local planning processes to address environmental justice issues.

5. Citizen Complaints and Inquiries Received

  • Aresta reported that he received a complaint from a representative of the Sharon Land Trust who was concerned about a parcel of land in the Town of Sharon, known as 135 Millerton Road. He added that the complainant noted that the property was sold to individuals who intend to build a part-time residence on the property, and that the development rights related to this property were donated by Morris Paley to the Department of Agriculture (“DoAG”) in 1984. Aresta noted that he contacted the DoAG and they informed him that an attorney from the Attorney General’s office is currently reviewing the applicable law to address the request. There was general discussion regarding easements on agricultural land. It was suggested that the Council need not provide comments on this issue at this time.

  • Aresta reported that he received an inquiry from a resident that wanted information on the cost of offshore wind power. He indicated that he responded that the 2020 Integrated Resources Plan, Appendix A6 identified a procurement for 804 megawatts (MW) of wind capacity at a cost of $79.83/MWH.

  • Aresta reported that he received an inquiry from a resident of Westport about any new information regarding a remedy to noise generated by traffic going over a bridge on the Merritt Parkway. He added that the inquiry is a follow up from a complaint that was brought to the Council’s attention back in May 2022. He responded that he had no new information regarding the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) policy regarding noise for that bridge or other Type I projects.

6. Executive Director’s Report

  • Aresta noted that the Council might need to repost the Environmental Analyst staff position.

  • Aresta noted that he confirmed that the Department of Public Health (DPH) is required to withhold certain information provided by water companies in a water plan because of security reasons, as specified in Connecticut General Statutes (CGS) Section 25-32d(e).

  • Aresta noted that he recently spoke with the existing staff person at DEEP that provided assistance to municipal wetland agencies regarding the regulation of wetlands. He provided an update on the status of DEEP’s wetlands activities, including staffing, training, and reporting.

  • Aresta summarized the data he obtained for the Annual Report, including air quality and air pollutants, annual precipitation, average annual temperature, annual heating degree days and cooling degree days, bald eagles, osprey, farmland preservation, water levels at Bridgeport, registered electric vehicles (EVs), the beverage container redemption rate, and prohibited shellfish area. Aresta added that he also obtained estimated data for state park visitation from 1984 through 2021 and staff levels from 2008 through 2022.

Ainsworth noted that the Council would take a five-minute break at 11:02 AM. The Council meeting resumed at 11:07 AM.

Ainsworth noted that if anyone had questions regarding the mechanisms that DEEP would use for reporting wetland actions, they should direct those inquiries to the Council’s Executive Director.

7. State Agency Actions 


  • Release-Based Remediation Program – update
    Aresta noted that DEEP held a meeting of the Release-Based Remediation Working Group on January 10 and that DEEP provided an overview of the proposed pathways for new and historical releases within the first year of discovery. He added that representatives from subcommittees 9 and 10 provided an overview of their activities and he noted that the subcommittees’ final reports will be submitted on or about March 1 to the Working Group.

  • General Permit for the Discharge of Groundwater Remediation Wastewater and the Comprehensive General Permit for Discharges to Surface Water and Groundwater - Aresta noted that the General Permits were being extended for a period of two years without modifications. He added that DEEP intends to revise and reissue both General Permits within the two-year extension and that the proposed extensions will allow DEEP adequate time for stakeholder engagement.

  • Notice of Intent to Revise the State Implementation Plan for Air Quality: PM2.5 Maintenance Plan for New Haven and Fairfield Counties – Aresta noted that DEEP intends to revise the State Implementation Plan (SIP) to comply with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for fine particulate matter (PM2.5).  He added that DEEP will retain all previously approved SIP elements related to attainment and maintenance; continue to operate PM2.5 monitors in New Haven and Fairfield Counties; and continue to evaluate compliance with the standards and implement previously approved contingency measures. Vidich asked how many monitoring stations there are in New Haven and Fairfield Counties. Aresta responded that in those two counties there are monitoring stations for PM 2.5 in Bridgeport, Danbury, and New Haven.

b. Connecticut Siting Council (CSC)

  • Petition 1555 (solar, Windsor Locks) - Comments recommended
    Aresta noted that he reviewed a proposal from Earthlight Technologies to develop a 1.9-MW ground-mounted solar photovoltaic (PV) system at 1 Hamilton Road in Windsor  Locks. He reviewed the environmental characteristics of the proposed site. He added that comments have been developed addressing the protection of state-listed species, inspection of stormwater control measures, and support for the proposed wetland buffers.

  • Petition 1554 (fuel cell, West Hartford-Hartford) - No comments recommended 
    Aresta noted that he reviewed a proposal from HyAxiom Inc to construct 1 1.84 MW fuel cell facility at 200 Bloomfield Ave in West Hartford (University of Hartford, Lot C), and he summarized the environmental conditions at the proposed site.

  • Petition 1556 (energy, East Windsor) - No comments recommended
    Aresta noted that he reviewed a proposal from Eversource Energy to construct an electrical interconnection between its existing 115-kilovolt (kV) transmission line facility and Gravel Pit Solar’s 120 MW solar PV facility (CSC Docket 492) located in East Windsor, and he summarized the environmental conditions at the proposed site.

  • Petition 1557 (solar, Enfield) - No comments recommended
    Aresta noted that he reviewed a proposal from LSE Hercules LLC (Lodestar Energy) to develop a 4-MW solar PV facility near 95 Raffia Road in Enfield. He summarized the environmental conditions at the proposed site and noted that the Petitioner included a Resource Protection Program, and provisions for petroleum and hazardous materials storage and refueling, spill response, and cleanup to address water quality concerns and for the protection of the aquifer protection area, wetlands and vernal pools. He added that DEEP and DoAG submitted letters indicating that there would be no material affect on core forest and prime farmland, respectively. Kolesinskas asked about potential impacts on agricultural soils and potential for erosion and stormwater control. Aresta responded that prime farmland soils are not located within the proposed project area, the proposed Resource Protection Plan has a lot of information on erosion control, and the proposed project would be in compliance with the General Permit , Appendix I that specifically addresses stormwater management for solar array construction projects.

    Kalafa made a motion to approve the recommendations of the Executive Director regarding proposals being reviewed by the CSC, which included sending the comments for Petition 1555; seconded by Vidich. The motion was approved unanimously.

c. Legislature

Aresta summarized several bills that have been introduced that could address the Council’s legislative recommendations. Aresta noted that the first public hearing for the Environment Committee will be held on January 30, and he identified four bills on the public hearing agenda that might warrant comments from the Council. There was general discussion regarding the amount of land that could be preserved with the proposed funding and the need to have sufficient staff at DEEP to facilitate land procurement. Charamut highlighted certain provisions that could be included in proposed House Bill 5616. Aresta added that there were two bills (Senate Bill 120 and 121) that relate to the applicability of the Connecticut Environmental Policy Act for the Connecticut Airport Authority.

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 11:37 AM; seconded by Warzecha. 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.)

1 Passcode: 5*cJ6q?D