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Environment, Energy and Land Use Legislative Update

Public and Special Acts Affecting the Environment and Land Use

August 11, 2006

The following are brief summaries of selected 2006 Public and Special Acts that affect the environment or land use issues in a direct or significant way. The summaries are not legal interpretations or advice and should not be construed or represented as such. Also, not all provisions of the Public or Special Acts are included in the summaries. The full text of all 2006 public acts is available online at: http://www.cga.ct.gov/.

For convenience in the e-mailed version of this document:

  • the Public or Special Act number at the beginning of each summary is linked to a General Assembly website for the text of the Act; and
  • the Bill History for each Act is available by clicking on "Bill Status" at the beginning of each summary.

We would like to thank the non-partisan Office of Legislative Research and the Legislative Commissioner's office for providing assistance and materials that were used in compiling the summaries.

We hope that this newsletter has been useful throughout the legislative session. If you would like additional information on any 2006 Public or Special Act, or have suggestions or comments regarding this newsletter, please contact Matt Ranelli at (860) 251-5748 or e-mail at mranelli@goodwin.com.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

PA 06-17

SB 41

AN ACT CONCERNING MUNICIPAL PLANS OF CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT

PA 06-20

HB 5039

AN ACT CONCERNING SITE PLANS

PA 06-24

HB 5042

AN ACT CONCERNING MUNICIPAL PLANS OF CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT AND INTERIM CHANGES TO THE STATE PLAN OF CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT

PA 06-48

SB 545

AN ACT CONCERNING HOUSING PRESERVATION

PA 06-53

SB 313

AN ACT CONCERNING PROTECTION OF PUBLIC WATER SUPPLY SOURCES

PA 06-61

SB 287

AN ACT CONCERNING REVISIONS TO THE DRY CLEANING REMEDIATION ACCOUNT PROVISIONS

PA 06-76

SB 285

AN ACT CONCERNING PERSONAL WATERCRAFT AND CHILDREN, REVISIONS TO ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION STATUTES, LAKE PATROLMEN AND THE APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL CONSERVATION OFFICERS

PA 06-80

HB 5290

AN ACT CONCERNING NOTICE REQUIREMENTS FOR LAND USE APPLICATIONS

PA 06-81

HB 5440

AN ACT CONCERNING THE PRESENCE OF VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS AND NOTICE OF POLLUTING EVENTS

PA 06-82

HB 5570

AN ACT CONCERNING ECONOMIC INCENTIVES FOR ACHIEVING NITROGEN EFFLUENT REDUCTIONS TO LONG ISLAND SOUND

PA 06-89

HB 5447

AN ACT CONCERNING ENCROACHMENT ON OPEN SPACE LANDS

PA 06-97

HB 5707

AN ACT CONCERNING SUBDIVISIONS FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING DEVELOPMENTS

PA 06-98

HB 5720

AN ACT CONCERNING THE REGULATION OF DISTRIBUTION WATER MAIN INSTALLATIONS AND WELLS ON RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY

PA 06-128

SB 546

AN ACT AUTHORIZING MUNICIPALITIES TO ABATE TAXES ON OPEN SPACE LAND AND AUTHORIZING FLOATING AND OVERLAY ZONES AND FLEXIBLE ZONING DISTRICTS

PA 06-184

HB 5685

AN ACT CONCERNING BROWNFIELDS

PA 06-187

HB 5846

AN ACT REQUIRING A STUDY OF BUDGETED STATE AGENCIES WITH RESPECT TO THE EXPENDITURES OF SUCH AGENCIES IN RELATION TO PROGRAMS ADMINISTERED OR SERVICES PROVIDED BY SUCH AGENCIES

SA 06-9

HB 5802

AN ACT CONCERNING WATER BASINS


PA 06-17; SB 41; Bill Status

Planning and Development Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING MUNICIPAL PLANS OF CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT

SUMMARY: This act alters the process that local planning commissions (or combined planning and zoning commissions) must follow when amending plans of conservation and development (plan of C&D) when they or individuals propose changes or revisions. Existing law requires commissions to revise their plans at least once every 10 years. The act sets or extends deadlines for certain actions and changes the sequence in which other actions must occur. It also shortens the process for acting on changes citizens propose. The act does not require any substantive changes to local plans of C&D.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2006 

PA 06-20; HB 5039; Bill Status

Planning and Development Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING SITE PLANS

SUMMARY: This act expressly authorizes municipalities whose zoning authority derives from special acts to require site plan approval. It also subjects such special act municipalities to the same statutory procedures and restrictions for reviewing and approving site plan applications as all other municipalities whose zoning authority derives from the General Statutes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

PA 06-24; HB 5042; Bill Status

Planning and Development Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING MUNICIPAL PLANS OF CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT AND INTERIM CHANGES TO THE STATE PLAN OF CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT

SUMMARY: This act modifies how the Office of Policy and Management ("OPM") secretary can make interim changes to the state Plan of Conservation and Development ("state plan of C&D"). By law, the OPM secretary can make interim changes, with the written approval of the Continuing Legislative Committee on State Planning and Development, without initiating a plan revision. The secretary can make such changes on his own initiative or upon application by, any person, political subdivision of the state, or state agency. The act limits the individuals who can apply to the owner of the real property or an interest in the property that is the subject of the proposed change. It also limits municipal applications to the municipality's chief elected official, with the approval of the municipality's legislative body and the municipal planning commission's written opinion of the proposed change. It bars applications from municipalities unless they have updated their local plans of C&D as required by law.

The act also requires the commissions to (1) send a copy of their plans to OPM within 60 days of their adoption and (2) include a description of any inconsistencies with the state plan of C&D.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2006

PA 06-48; SB 545; Bill Status

Planning and Development Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING HOUSING PRESERVATION

SUMMARY: Under existing law, the owners of federally subsidized multifamily housing projects must notify tenants and other parties at least one year before they prepay the project's mortgage; prepayment could remove the restrictions that make the project affordable to low- and moderate-income people. Owners must comply with this requirement if their projects received subsidies under one or more of several specified federal programs.

This act subjects more projects to the one-year notification requirement and adds to the types of events that trigger it. It also requires 90-day notice in certain cases and makes minor related changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2006

 PA 06-53; SB 313; Bill Status

Public Health Committee

Environment Committee

Joint Committee on Legislative Management

AN ACT CONCERNING PROTECTION OF PUBLIC WATER SUPPLY SOURCES

SUMMARY: This act requires applicants to notify the Commissioner of Public Health ("DPH") of applications submitted to local land use and wetland agencies involving properties located within public water supply watersheds or aquifer protection areas.

The act also allows the DPH Commissioner to adopt regulations that incorporate by reference the federal National Primary Drinking Water Regulations. The act requires the public health and environmental protection commissioners to study the use of ethanol as a gasoline additive in the state as a means of meeting federal Clean Air Act requirements. It also makes technical changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: The DPH Commissioner notification and regulation provisions take effect October 1, 2006; the ethanol study and technical changes take effect upon passage.

PA 06-61; SB 287; Bill Status

Environment Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING REVISIONS TO THE DRY CLEANING REMEDIATION ACCOUNT PROVISIONS

The act lowers the total grants an applicant may receive from the Dry Cleaning remediation Account to $300,000 per eligible dry cleaning establishment, rather than $300,000 per year.

The act prohibits the Commissioner of Department of Environmental Protection from awarding grants if the dry cleaning establishment is in arrears in paying the dry cleaning surcharge or if the party applying for the grant is in arrears in any local or state tax.

It also makes minor, conforming, and technical changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

 PA 06-76; SB 285; Bill Status

Environment Committee

Judiciary Committee

Appropriations Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING PERSONAL WATERCRAFT AND CHILDREN, REVISIONS TO ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION STATUTES, LAKE PATROLMEN AND THE APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL CONSERVATION OFFICERS

SUMMARY: This act makes a number of changes in the Hazardous Waste Transfer Act and other environmental laws, including laws affecting solid waste facility permitting; the sale, labeling, and collection of mercury and mercury-containing products; and toxics in packaging. (Many of the provisions of this Act were previously contained in HB 5564 which did not pass.)

Specifically, it:

  1. exempts from the Transfer Act, operations or properties that would be subject to the Transfer Act solely as a result of the generation, storage, handling, transport or transfer of universal waste – provided there have been no discharges or loss of such waste that is otherwise hazardous (§§ 11 and 14);
  2. exempts from the Transfer Act conveyance of units in condominiums, cooperatives, and other planned residential communities if the declarant for the community of which the unit is a part (1) is a certifying party for the purposes of remediating an establishment within the community and (2) provides the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner a surety bond or other form of financial assurance she deems acceptable;
  3. in certain instances, allows sale or transfer of a remediated portion of land subject to the Transfer Act before the entire site is cleaned up, if notice of the sale or transfer is provided to the DEP Commissioner within 30 days (§ 15);
  4. revises the permitting process for solid waste facilities, requires non-permitted solid waste disposal area owners to either submit closure plans to DEP or remediate the area, and changes other solid waste laws;
  5. imposes criminal penalties for certain violations of laws governing the sale, labeling, and collection of mercury and products containing mercury;
  6. reestablishes exemptions for certain packaging containing toxic materials and makes other changes affecting toxics in packaging;
  7. authorizes the DEP to issue general permits for certain industrial wastewater discharges;
  8. officially eliminates the Connecticut Hazardous Waste Management Service and laws relating to low-level radioactive waste facilities, the Low Level Radioactive Waste Facility Trust Fund, Low Level Radioactive Waste Advisory Committee, and Low Level Radioactive Waste Management Fund;
  9. removes the siting of low-level radioactive waste facilities and consultation on the preparation of a hazardous waste management plan from the duties of the Connecticut Siting Council;
  10. modifies filing requirements for certain DEP air pollution orders; and
  11. prohibits personal watercraft (jet ski) passengers from riding (a) in front of a jet ski operator and (b) behind the operator unless they meet certain physical requirements, and subjects violators to a fine of between $60 and $250.

Under existing law, the DEP Commissioner may license terminals that load or unload petroleum, chemicals, and hazardous waste for up to three years, beginning annually on July 1. The act extends the maximum license period to 10 years from the date the license is issued. The act also modifies the law concerning special conservation officers.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2006, except for the (1) penalties for violating the mercury reduction laws, which take effect October 1, 2007, and (2) provisions concerning special conservation officers, which take effect upon passage.

PA 06-80; HB 5290; Bill Status

Planning and Development Committee

Appropriations Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING NOTICE REQUIREMENTS FOR LAND USE APPLICATIONS

SUMMARY: This act exempts planning commissions and combined planning and zoning commissions from the requirement to publish newspaper notice about public hearings they hold on proposals they initiate to adopt or amend subdivision regulations. The law already exempted zoning commissions and combined planning and zoning commissions from this requirement with respect to proposals they initiate to adopt or amend zoning regulations or zoning district boundaries.

Although the act expands the exemption from the newspaper notice requirement, it requires all commissions to create a registry through which parties can request notice of such actions that are exempt from the newspaper notice requirement and to mail or email such notice to those who register not later than seven days before the public hearing opens. The registry is open to town residents, landowners and tax-exempt, non-profit organizations. Those who register receive notices for a three year period and may re-register for additional three year periods.

The act continues to require zoning, planning, and combined planning and zoning commissions to publish newspaper notices about regulatory changes proposed by private parties and to allow such commissions to adopt regulations requiring additional notice. However, the act specifies that if commissions adopt such regulations, the regulations must require that notice be (1) mailed to adjacent property owners or (2) posted by sign on the subject property, or both.

The act eliminates the requirement that the Planning and Development Committee study how zoning commissions can use the definitions of lakes and other water bodies in their zoning ordinances. Prior law required the committee to annually report its findings to the legislature. The first report was due January 1, 2006.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2006

PA 06-81; HB 5440; Bill Status

Environment Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING THE PRESENCE OF VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS AND NOTICE OF POLLUTING EVENTS

SUMMARY: This act increases drinking water pollution notice requirements by requiring (1) sellers of homes that are or will be served by well water to notify buyers of the results of any water test for volatile organic compounds by including such information in the residential disclosure report and (2) the Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner to notify state, federal, and employee representatives about contaminated sites.

The act also requires anyone ordered by the Commissioner to test any private drinking well to notify the property owner, local health director, and others within 24 hours of receiving test results that show the water exceeds any of the applicable maximum contamination levels. It further requires that the property owner notify any tenants or lessees of the property within 24 hours of receiving such notice.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2006

PA 06-82; HB 5570; Bill Status

Environment Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING ECONOMIC INCENTIVES FOR ACHIEVING NITROGEN EFFLUENT REDUCTIONS TO LONG ISLAND SOUND

SUMMARY: Under the Nitrogen Credit Exchange Program, the Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner must issue a general permit specifying the amount of nitrogen publicly-owned sewage treatment plants can discharge. This act authorizes her to also issue general permits for private-sector entities that discharge nitrogen into state waters. The permit must establish nitrogen effluent limits and an annual compliance schedule for each entity, and may include marketable permit, effluent reduction credit, or other economic incentive programs.

It authorizes the Commissioner, in consultation with the state treasurer, to adopt regulations providing for both programs. Under prior law, she did not have to consult with the state treasurer before adopting regulations.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2006

PA 06-89; HB 5447; Bill Status

Environment Committee

Judiciary Committee

Planning and Development Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING ENCROACHMENT ON OPEN SPACE LANDS

SUMMARY: This act prohibits people, without the owner's permission or other legal authorization, from encroaching or causing anyone to encroach on (1) open space land, or (2) any land in which the state, its political subdivisions, or a nonprofit land conservation organization holds a conservation easement interest. It authorizes anyone with a property interest in such open space land, or the attorney general, to bring an action against the violator in Superior Court for the judicial district where the land is located. It specifies the penalties fees the court may impose on people who encroach on open space land and imposes the same penalties on people who remove, prune, injure, or deface a shrub or ornamental or shade tree within the limits of public grounds or a public way without the appropriate legal permission.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2006

PA 06-97; HB 5707; Bill Status

Planning and Development Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING SUBDIVISIONS FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING DEVELOPMENTS

SUMMARY: This act allows a municipality's legislative body to adopt an ordinance exempting from the municipality's subdivision regulations a landowner's first subdivision of land so long as the lot created is for affordable housing developed by the municipality or a nonprofit organization. (Subdivision regulations routinely impose requirements on developers for such things as streets, sewers, and open space. ) The ordinance must provide that this exemption is in addition to any other exemption provided under the law governing subdivisions and may not be construed as exercising any right under any other exemption. The ordinance must also provide that any further subdivision of the lot created for affordable housing is subject to subdivision regulations.

By law, a "subdivision" is the division of a parcel into three or more lots. As a result, a property owner can divide one lot from his previously un-subdivided parcel without being subject to the subdivision regulations.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2006

PA 06-98; HB 5720; Bill Status

Public Health Committee

Planning and Development Committee

Energy and Technology Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING THE REGULATION OF DISTRIBUTION WATER MAIN INSTALLATIONS AND WELLS ON RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY

SUMMARY: This act specifically excludes certain distribution water main installations from the Department of Public Health's (DPH) review and approval. The act requires water companies to report to DPH annually on the number and location of such new installations. Reporting must be in an electronic format prescribed by DPH.

Existing law prohibits the construction or expansion of a water supply system owned or used by a water company or the use of a new additional water supply source until plans for them have been submitted to and approved by DPH. Under the act, no prior review or approval is required for distribution water main installations if they are constructed according to sound engineering standards and all applicable laws and regulations and do not require construction or expansion of pumping stations, storage facilities, treatment facilities, or supply sources.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2006

PA 06-128; SB 546; Bill Status

Planning and Development Committee

Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee

AN ACT AUTHORIZING MUNICIPALITIES TO ABATE TAXES ON OPEN SPACE LAND AND AUTHORIZING FLOATING AND OVERLAY ZONES AND FLEXIBLE ZONING DISTRICTS

SUMMARY: This act sets conditions under which municipalities, including boroughs and special taxing districts, may abate property taxes on open space land. This abatement is separate from the property tax benefit available to open space land owners under the 490 program.

The act also provides that municipalities meeting very narrow criteria may adopt certain flexible zoning techniques. This provision is limited to municipalities exercising zoning power under a special act, that have a mayor-aldermen form of government, and that were incorporated in 1784. (New Haven is the only municipality that meets these criteria.) The techniques permitted by the act are floating and overlay zones and flexible zoning districts such as planned development districts. A municipality that chooses to adopt these flexible techniques must do so under its zoning regulations and comply with the act's restrictions which effectively preclude the use of the techniques in residential zones.

N.B. After this act was adopted the Connecticut Supreme Court released its decision in Campion v. New Haven Board of Aldermen, which held that New Haven already has broad authority, by special act, to adopt planned development districts (and other flexible zones). It is unclear to what extent, if any, this public act restricts the existing special act powers of a single city.

EFFECTIVE DATE: The property tax provisions are effective October 1, 2006 and apply to assessment years beginning on or after that date. The authorization to adopt flexible zoning techniques upon passage was made effective by PA 06-196 § 290.

PA 06-184; HB 5685; Bill Status

Commerce Committee

Judiciary Committee

Environment Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING BROWNFIELDS

  SUMMARY: The act establishes an Office of Brownfield Remediation and Development within the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) to (1) develop procedures and policies for streamlining brownfield remediation; (2) identify and create sources of brownfield remediation funding; (3) assist municipalities or economic development agencies with clean up and funding compliance issues; (4) identify and prioritize brownfield development opportunities; (5) analyze other state's programs; and (6) develop an outreach program to educate brownfield property owners and potential property owners. It also requires the office to establish a state-funded pilot program to identify brownfield remediation economic opportunities in four Connecticut municipalities and establishes a task force to develop long-term solutions for cleaning up and redeveloping brownfields.

The act establishes various regulatory and financial incentives for other parties that clean up sites and protects such parties from liability if they acquire a contaminated site from a town or its development agency and clean it up to Department of Environmental Protection ("DEP") standards. It also sets conditions under which the owners of existing manufacturing facilities qualify for clean up funds and exempts parties that acquired properties through a tax warrant sales from the Transfer Act. Under existing law owners who acquire a property from a town after it foreclosed on its tax lien are already excluded.

DECD and DEP must administer the program within available funds and may use funds allocated to other programs for the bill's purposes.

The bill expands the range of projects that may qualify for corporate business tax credits under the Urban and Industrial Sites Reinvestment Program to include projects located on sites that do not otherwise qualify but that the Economic and Community Development Commissioner determines is connected with the relocation of an out-of-state operation or the expansion of an existing facility that will result in a capital investment by a company of not less than fifty million dollars. (PA 06-187 § 12 contains a similar provision).

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2006

PA 06-187; HB 5846; Bill Status

Emergency Certification

AN ACT REQUIRING A STUDY OF BUDGETED STATE AGENCIES WITH RESPECT TO THE EXPENDITURES OF SUCH AGENCIES IN RELATION TO PROGRAMS ADMINISTERED OR SERVICES PROVIDED BY SUCH AGENCIES

SUMMARY: The act makes numerous changes to a variety of programs not summarized here. Sections 3-11 of the act establish an Office of Ombudsman for Property Rights to:

1. develop expertise in the law regarding taking private property;

2. assist public agencies, when they request it;

3. provide property owners, upon request, assistance concerning eminent domain procedures;

4. identify government actions with potential eminent domain implications and advise agencies;

5. inform the public;

6. mediate disputes between private property owners and public agencies concerning the use of eminent domain or relocation assistance if requested by a private property owner and, within available appropriations, hire an independent real estate appraiser to assist in mediation; and

7. recommend changes in eminent domain laws to the legislature.

The office is within the Office of Policy and Management for administrative purposes only. Each state and local agency must comply with the office's reasonable requests for information and assistance and participate in mediation if requested to do so by the office.

Under the bill, the ombudsman is appointed by the governor with the consent of either house of the General Assembly and serves at the governor's pleasure for up to four years, unless reappointed. The ombudsman must be an elector who is an attorney with expertise or experience in real estate law or land use regulation and may not represent a private property owner or a public agency in any dispute before the courts or a public agency.

The act requires a public agency seeking to acquire property by eminent domain to make a reasonable effort to negotiate with the property owner to buy the property before starting an eminent domain action and to provide the property owner with (1) information on the bill's mediation provisions including the ombudsman's name, address, and phone number and (2) a written statement explaining that oral representations or promises during negotiations are not binding on the agency.

The act also sets narrow criteria under which development projects in more towns can qualify for business tax credits under the Urban and Industrial Sites Reinvestment Program. (PA 06-184 § 10 contains a similar provision).

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2006

SA 06-9; HB 5802; Bill Status

Environment Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING WATER BASINS

SUMMARY: The act requires the Connecticut Institute of Water Resources at The University of Connecticut, in consultation with the advisory board of the Connecticut Institute of Water Resources, to conduct a study of the scientific and legal structure needed to conduct effective basin level water allocation planning and any significant impediments to said planning. The study must attempt to:

(1) Evaluate existing basin studies to develop guidance for state-wide water planning, including an analysis of the transferability of such studies to other regional or subregional basins, and the costs associated with acquiring that data;

(2) Integrate diversion data into geospatial and modeling formats;

(3) Implement water allocation planning studies for three subregional watershed basins selected by the Connecticut Institute of Water Resources; and

(4) Develop and document a water allocation planning model for a selected basin.

Under the act, the institute must submit a status report to the Environment and the Public Health Committees and to the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Public Health by
January 1, 2007 and a final report within two years of receiving the necessary bond money for the study.

Effective Date: July 1, 2006

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