Monday, June 29, 2009

1000 Friends of Connecticut to Honor First Smart Growth Champ!

July 21st, 5 to 7 PM, Hartford Public Library, 500 Main Street, Hartford, Join 1000 FRIENDS of Connecticut in honoring its First Smart Growth Champ, Tom Condon.

Tom is the heart, the brain and the pen behind the Hartford Courant's nationally-renown Place Section.

Every Sunday, The Place Section celebrates Connecticut's natural spaces and built environment. The section features colorful and expert contributors from near and far, and Tom's column.

Tom is an indefatigable smart growth champion! 1000 FRIENDS recognizes Tom for consistently showcasing best practices, calling-out foolish choices, asking tough questions, and reminding us that we can grow better, more responsibly, more sustainably, and smarter!

Please follow the link for details.

All are welcome, but space is limited.

DECD Seeks Comments on Neighborhood Stabilization Program Draft





The public comment period will begin June 22, 2009 and end July 2, 2009 at the close of business. The Connecticut Consortium’s draft NSP2 Application is for the utilization of approximately $45,000,000 of funding under Title XII of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 (ARRA) for additional activities under Division B, Title III of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) of 2008. Additional information regarding ARRA can be found at The NSP2 funding is to assist in the redevelopment of abandoned and foreclosed homes. The Consortium’s NSP2 funding is targeted for the following activities; establish financing methods for purchase and redevelopment of foreclosed upon homes and residential properties, purchase and rehabilitate homes and residential properties that have been abandoned or foreclosed upon, redevelop demolished or vacant properties as housing. The Consortium’s NSP2 funds will be administered by the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) as the lead applicant. In addition to DECD, the Consortium members are the City of Bridgeport, the City of Hartford, the City of New Haven, the City of Stamford, the Corporation for Independent Living, Neighborhood Housing Services of CT, Inc., and Greater New Haven Community Loan Fund.

All state residents are encouraged to provide written comment on the Consortium’s draft NSP2 Application. A copy of the Consortium’s draft NSP2 Application as well as the state’s five-year Consolidated Plan for Housing and Community Development, annual Action Plans, and substantial amendments are available at the Department of Economic and Community Development’s website,

Written comments may be sent to W. Michael Regan, Community Development Assistant Administrator, Office of Strategy and Policy, Department of Economic & Community Development, 505 Hudson Street, Hartford, CT 06106-7106 or emailed to All comments received will be summarized and responded to in the final NSP2 Application which will be posted on DECD’s website,

Department of Economic & Community Development programs are administered in a nondiscriminatory manner, consistent with equal employment opportunities, affirmative action, and fair housing requirements. Questions, concerns, complaints or requests for information in alternative formats must be directed to the ADA (504) Coordinator at 860-566-1755.

Publication Date: June 18, 2009

Friday, June 26, 2009

Participate in Urban Infill Research Study Survey

The link below will direct you to a brief online survey. This survey is part of a National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) study to develop guidance and a methodology for the preparation and review of transportation impact analyses (TIAs) of infill development in urban or urbanizing areas. You can help support this effort by answering a few brief questions.

Why this is important
Higher density, mixed-use redevelopment and infill development are smart growth concepts that are an increasingly common form of development subject to environmental review and often traffic impact studies. However, there is a lack of standardized guidance and trip and parking generation data for preparing these studies.

Why your help is needed
The first phase of this study involves collecting information on current infill development definitions, infill traffic and parking generation data and estimation methods, TIA analysis methods and agency review procedures. Kimley-Horn and Associates, on behalf of NCHRP, would like to survey those involved in various aspects of infill development in order to collect this information. Your responses are completely confidential and will be used to identify valuable information and resources regarding the current state-of-the-practice of analyzing the impacts of infill development.

Please click to complete the survey.

Pollution Cutting Transportation Projects Boosted in New Agreement on Energy Bill

Reps. Henry A. Waxman, James L. Oberstar, Anthony D. Weiner, Earl Blumenauer, and Doris Matsui today announced a new agreement that will allow states to use funding from the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) to invest in clean transportation projects that reduce global warming pollution.

Under ACES, states will receive allowances for clean energy and energy efficiency investments. In the original legislation, these allowances could be used for purposes such as building retrofits to increase efficiency, investments in renewable energy such as wind turbines and solar panels, or for establishing a "Smart Grid." However, the original legislation did not provide any of these allowances to the transportation sector.Under the agreement announced today, states will be allowed to use up to 10 percent of these allowances for transportation. They can use allowances to fulfill the state matching requirement to receive federal funds for projects like public transportation systems, clean fuel buses, or construction of bicycle facilities.

"This is an important improvement in the legislation," said Rep. Waxman, Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. "Transportation accounts for nearly one-third of our global warming pollution. We will be requiring states and metropolitan areas to plan for reducing their global warming pollution from transportation, and this provision will help them reach their goals."

"Transportation has been identified as a significant source of the pollutants that contribute to global warming, and investing in transportation projects that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions must be a central part of the solution," said Rep. Oberstar, Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. "I commend Chairman Waxman for working with me to ensure that a portion of allowances are available for projects that will expand options for public transportation, bicycling, walking, and other green transportation alternatives for our citizens. This legislation provides only a small portion of the funds needed to address surface transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions, but is a very good first step."

"It's simply a no brainer to help localities reduce global warming by investing in smart transportation projects," said Rep. Weiner. "We need to get in the business of reducing congestion and increasing cost effective, energy efficient measures such as public transit. This bill does just that."

"Chairman Waxman and Subcommittee Chairman Markey have worked tirelessly on a bill that will invest in clean, renewable energy, put a cap on dangerous carbon emissions, and create millions of new jobs," said Rep. Blumenauer. "Yet we can't successfully address the issue of global warming without dealing with transportation, a sector which accounts for nearly one-third of America's carbon emissions. I am pleased that the American Clean Energy and Security Act recognizes that providing low carbon transportation options, including public transportation, is a cost-effective way to reduce global warming pollution. Not only do these investments reduce emissions, but they give Americans more commuting choices, improve public health, and reduce our nation's dependence on oil."

"Because transportation accounts for 30 percent of the greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere each year, effective climate change legislation must include a transportation component if we are going to achieve the emission reductions we need in order to halt global warming," stated Rep. Matsui. "The inclusion of my transportation efficiency provisions in the American Clean Energy and Security Act, along with the robust funding announced in today's agreement, will give communities the incentives they need to grow and develop in a way that is sensitive to global warming."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Land use is important

Kaid Benfield, from the NRDC, discusses a new in-depth study on land use patterns and transit:

Which is a pretty long introduction to a new report that will make smart growth harder to ignore as a carbon-reducing strategy. In particular, the Center for Clean Air Policy (CCAP) released a study last Friday documenting how comprehensive application of smart growth best practices and improved transportation choices can significantly reduce transportation emissions at a cost savings to society. The report makes a strong case for investing a portion of cap-and-trade revenues in smart growth. Here are some of the key findings:

— Smart growth and smart transportation choices can reduce the amount Americans need to drive - as measured in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) - by 10 percent per capita from 2005 levels.

— A 10 percent reduction in per capita VMT would reduce annual transportation emissions by 145 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (MMTCO2) in the year 2030, equivalent to the annual emissions of about 30 million cars or 35 large coal plants.

— These reductions would equal approximately 6 percent of the 2030 greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goal proposed in the American Clean Energy and Security Act.

As Felix Salmon points out, one of the most important points of the study is that investments in transit can actually have negative costs; that is, we end up getting more money back than their cost. It is not just about being green; smart growth actually is good for the economy as a whole.

Best Spots to Spot Walkers and Cyclists?

The National Bike and Pedestrian Documentation Project seeks to quantify who's walking and riding. There will be a count in September on a weekday from 7 to 9 AM and again from 4 to 6 PM and on a Saturday from 12 to 2 PM.

The Capitol Region Council of Governments is looking for good count locations.

Please submit your suggestions before June 29th to Sandy Fry at CRCOG.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Business groups get behind national transportation strategy

Dear Business Alliance,

Transportation for Business (T4B) is circulating a sign-on letter for businesses to show their support for HR. 2724 and SB.1036 (attached). These bills seek to establish a unifying mission for the federal surface transportation program in the upcoming authorization by creating national goals and objectives in transportation funding. Please find the sign-on letter below.

If you are interested in signing on to the letter or would like to get more involved with T4B you can respond to me or contact Jennifer Henry at NRDC directly at

Explanation of T4B

T4B (Transportation for Business) is a coordinating and information-sharing network for forward-thinking business organizations and alliances, individual business and industry leaders, and companies that support smarter transportation policy—meaning legislation, investments, and programs that facilitate more efficient movement of goods and people, while reducing environmental and public health impacts. We are working together to build a national, unified business voice for this vision.

Improving transportation policy at the federal level is an important priority for NRDC, and this year is particularly critical since the surface transportation bill is up for reauthorization. As a result we are lending some staff support to help develop T4B, and more detail can be found at The basic idea is that it will serve to connect business voices that want to send a message about transportation policy to the audiences that most need to hear that message—and need to hear it particularly from the business community.”


Yoav Hagler

Associate Planner, America 2050

Regional Plan Association

(917) 546-4314

United States House of Representatives

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20515

Dear Member of Congress,

The undersigned businesses and business associations write to request your support for HR. 2724, the National Transportation Objectives Act of 2009, introduced by Representatives Holt, Inslee, and Carnahan, and SB.1036, theFederal Transportation Policy and Planning Act of 2009, introduced by Senators Rockefeller and Lautenberg.

From a business perspective, this legislation is important because it articulates specific priorities as the basis for our transportation spending, and among those priorities are objectives that will address the current and future needs of our economy, enhance our energy security, and make the nation more economically competitive.

They include congestion reduction, maintaining our existing infrastructure in a state of good repair, and facilitating increased use of multiple modes of transportation. Meeting these objectives will enable faster, cheaper movement of supplies, products, services, customers, and employees—in other words, this bill will be good for businesses small and large, across sectors and across the country.

These companion bills establish a unifying mission for the federal surface transportation program and begin the process of setting needed and achievable performance targets. These targets should be effectively integrated into the federal transportation planning process as part of the next surface transportation reauthorization bill, to ensure that every federal dollar spent on transportation is well spent.

HR.2724 and SB.1036 are very similar in overarching purpose, and while the specifics differ slightly, we support the underlying principles and large areas of overlap, which include the following national transportation objectives:

  • Reduce per capita vehicle miles traveled.
  • Increase the ability for more destinations to be reached via walking, biking, public transportation, and intercity passenger rail.
  • Reduce transportation-generated carbon dioxide level by 40 percent.
  • Reduce congestion and delays per capita.
  • Increase proportion of freight transportation provided by railroad and intermodal services.
  • Improve public safety and lower congestion costs by reducing traffic crashes by 50 percent
  • Increase share of surface transportation assets in good state of repair condition.

America needs a new transportation future based on national priorities that enhances our economy, environment, and quality of life. We respectfully ask you to co-sponsor the National Transportation Objectives Act of 2009 or the Federal Transportation Policy and Planning Act of 2009.

Thank you,


Smart growth and better transit could reduce VMT by 10% per capita

Washington, DC — The Center for Clean Air Policy (CCAP) released a study today concluding that comprehensive application of smart growth best practices and improved transportation choices could significantly reduce transportation emissions at a net cost savings to society. The study is released as House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar announces his outline for surface transportation authorization legislation.

Most greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction studies miss the benefits of smart growth and improved transportation choices. However, the new CCAP study shows that these policies can reduce the amount Americans need to drive — as measured in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) — by 10 percent per capita from 2005 levels. A 10 percent reduction in per capita VMT would reduce annual transportation emissions by 145 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (MMTCO2) in the year 2030, equivalent to the annual emissions of about 30 million cars or 35 large coal plants. These reductions would equal approximately 6 percent of the 2030 GHG reduction goal proposed in the American Clean Energy and Security Act.

The new study, titled “Cost-Effective GHG Reductions through Smart Growth & Improved Transportation Choices: An economic case for strategic investment of cap-and-trade revenues,” was prepared with input from Transportation for America, Smart Growth America, Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Defense Fund, Rails to Trails and HDR.

Climate advocates say that addressing the transportation emissions is critical for reducing U.S. GHG emissions because nearly one third of U.S. emissions come from transportation, making it the nation’s largest end-use source of emissions. Furthermore, transportation is the fastest growing source of U.S. emissions.

“We cannot address climate change without addressing transportation emissions. Our analysis indicates that we can achieve transportation emissions reductions with significant economic benefits, yielding net cost savings per ton CO2, when factoring in avoided infrastructure costs, consumer fuel and insurance cost savings and projected tax revenue growth from high value economic development,” said Steve Winkelman, director of transportation and adaptation programs at CCAP. “These positive economic findings hold at local, regional, state and national levels.”

CCAP reviewed a number of reports and case studies about U.S. cities and states that demonstrate how making smarter land use and transportation choices reduces emissions and saves money. For example, Sacramento projects GHG savings of 7.2 MMT CO2 by 2050, while saving $9 billion in infrastructure costs and $380 million in annual consumer fuel costs, yielding a net economic benefit of almost $200 per ton of CO2 saved. Portland,Oregon’s investments in bicycle infrastructure will reduce emissions by 0.7 MMTCO2, with net economic benefits of more than $1,000 per ton CO2 saved.

At the state level, Georgia could save more than $400 billion over 30 years, while saving 18 MMTCO2 with strategic investments in transit, freight and travel demand management (e.g., four day work weeks, telecommuting, carpooling). In Atlanta, Georgia, the Atlantic Station redevelopment project is reducing residents’ need to drive by more than 30 percent, which would cut 0.6 MMTCO2 over 50 years, and generate $30 million per year in much-needed local tax revenue.

The study points out that although the price signal from a national cap-and-trade system will be sufficient to change behavior of major point sources of emissions, it will be far less effective in influencing travel demand for Americans. This study demonstrates that achieving economy-wide emissions reductions will be less costly if strategies include smart growth and improved travel choices. Therefore, CCAP recommends dedicating 10 percent of national cap-and-trade allowance value to smart growth and improved transportation choices.

Winkelman said that this investment will jump start smarter land use and transportation choices at the local, regional, and state levels while lowering economy-wide GHG mitigation costs.

“It is time to invest in our citizens, to improve their health, their quality of life, their neighborhoods and their employment opportunities — by supporting smart growth and improved transportation options,” said Winkelman. “The U.S. should seek investments that bring the greatest benefits to society, particularly during this economic downturn. This study shows that smart growth pays dividends to all citizens.”

This summer, CCAP will release a more in-depth review of the economic impacts of smart growth and improved transportation choices, called “Growing Wealthier: The Economic Benefits of Smart Growth.”

For more information on CCAP’s smart growth and transportation program, please visit:

Since 1985, CCAP has been a recognized world leader in climate and air quality policy and is the only independent, non-profit think-tank working exclusively on those issues at the local, national and international levels. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., CCAP helps policymakers around the world to develop, promote and implement innovative, market-based solutions to major climate, air quality and energy problems that balance both environmental and economic interests. For more information about CCAP, please visit

David Goldberg
Communications Director
Smart Growth America

Transportation Bill Due for Release Today -- Take Action Below

From: Ilana Preuss, Transportation for America
Date: June 22, 2009
Subject Line: Breaking news: Transportation bill released

Big decisions about transportation funding must be made soon - before funding runs out.
Make sure the money spent goes to projects that are clean, safe and smart.
Tell your representative to make a stand: no more money without real reform!

Big decisions about transportation funding must be made soon - before funding runs out.
Make sure the money spent goes to projects that are clean, safe and smart.
Tell your representative to make a stand: no more money without real reform!
Capitol Hill is buzzing with the news: a new transportation bill is likely being introduced TODAY. And the Obama administration is pushing Congress to pass a funding plan quickly. Why the rush?

Transportation funding is running out.

But we can’t afford to keep throwing money at transportation agencies unable to show progress on the issues that matter to us all: Affordable ways to get around; alternatives to congestion; reducing our oil dependency; protecting the climate; safe and vibrant communities and access to jobs.

Tell Congress: No new money without a real, sustainable plan.

The National Highway Trust Fund – which pays for road work, bike and pedestrian facilities and transit projects – will run out of money in August.

With funds drying up, the pressure to throw more money at our problems is growing. Some in Congress are poised to take money from other needs to prop up the trust fund, which comes from gas taxes. They would prefer to go on spending our tax dollars without a real plan. But more money with no strings attached is not the answer.

The U.S. hasn't had a vision for transportation policy in decades. We've been trying to build our way out of a congested and inefficient system with no accountability and no actual plan to link our roads, trains, buses, bikeways and pedestrian-friendly streets.

The result? Longer, more frustrating, less safe and increasingly expensive commutes for all of us.

But now we have an opportunity for change. We must ensure that our country's transportation investments strengthen our economy, our environment and our health.

Tell your representative we need real reform before we throw more money at our problems.

Don't let Congress make the same mistakes it's made in the past. We must fund transportation, and we must do it right this time.
Thank you for your support at this crucial moment.

Ilana Preuss
Outreach and Field Director
Transportation for America


Take Action: Transportation bill moving fast!

Congress is about to pour billions of dollars into transportation. But we can't just throw money at the problem the same way we have been - we need smart investments.

The U.S. hasn't had a vision for transportation policy in decades. We've been trying to build our way out of a congested and inefficient system with no accountability and no actual plan to link our roads, trains, busses, bikeways and pedestrian-friendly streets. But the new transportation bill released this week needs to change all that.

Fill out the fields below to tell your member of Congress to ensure that our country's transportation investments strengthen our economy, our environment and our health.


Friday, June 19, 2009

June ENews is Out

The June Smart Growth ENews is hot off the presses! In the June edition, news from the legislature, news from DC, coverage of the green tax credit that is now PA 09-202, and more!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

An Act Concerning Smart Growth and the State Conservation and Development Policies Plan

Passed 36 to 0 in the Senate, 143 to 2 in the House in the January to June 2009 Session of the Connecticut General Assembly

This legislation defines smart growth and establishes smart growth principles. It authorizes the Continuing Legislative Committee on State Planning to study the State Plan of Conservation and Development, how the plan is adopted, and the process for integrating smart growth into the plan. The legislation gives the Office of Policy and Management extra time to update the next version of the state’s plan and requires that the plan integrate the Connecticut Climate Change Action Plan.

“Smart Growth” is defined as: economic, social and environmental development that (A) promotes through financial and other incentives, economic competitiveness in the state while preserving natural resources, and (B) utilizes a collaborative approach to planning, decision making, and evaluation between and among all levels of government and the communities and the constituents they serve; and

“Principles of smart growth” means standards and objectives that support and encourage smart growth when used to guide actions and decisions, including, but not limited to, standards and criteria for (A) integrated planning or investment that coordinates tax, transportation, housing, environmental and economic development policies at the state, regional and local level, (B) the reduction of reliance on the property tax by municipalities by creating efficiencies and coordination of services on the regional level while reducing interlocal competition for grand list growth, (C) the redevelopment of existing infrastructure and resources, including but not limited to brownfields and historic places, (D) transportation choices that provide alternatives to automobiles including rail, public transit, bikeways and walking, while reducing energy consumption, (E) the development or preservation of housing affordable to households of varying income in locations proximate to transportation or employment centers or locations compatible with smart growth, (F) concentrated, mixed-use, mixed income development proximate to transit nodes and civic, employment or cultural centers, and (G) the conservation and protection of natural resources by (i) preserving open space, water resources, farmland, environmentally sensitive areas and historic properties, and (ii) further energy efficiency.

An Act Modernizing Connecticut Fertilizer Law

Passed 35 to 0 in the Senate, 133 to 16 in the House in the January to June 2009 Session of the Connecticut General Assembly

Only the last section of the legislation pertains to smart growth.

The final sections increase the document recording fee collected by town clerks to $40 beginning July 1, 2011. Town clerks may retain one dollar for the purposes of their offices, four dollars are payable to the municipality for local capital improvement projects, and the town clerks will remit $36 to the State Treasurer.

The “Land Protection, Affordable Housing and Historic Preservation Account” in the state’s General Fund will be renamed the “Community Investment Account”. The $36 balance of the recording fee will be deposited into that fund and disbursed as follows: 20 percent to the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism for historic preservation and historic preservation technical assistance; 20 percent to the Department of Environmental Protection’s Municipal Open Space Grant Program; 20 percent to the Connect Housing Finance Authority for affordable housing programs; and 40 percent to the Department of Agriculture for agricultural viability grants, the farm transition program, to encourage schools and restaurants to buy CT grown products, farmland preservation and a new agricultural sustainability account.

The agricultural sustainability account will aggregate funds for grants to subsidize dairy farmers for each month the federal price for milk falls below the monthly cost of production.
The legislation also expands the eligibility of farm viability matching grants to include agricultural nonprofits and makes the development of new marketing programs an eligible activity for grant funds.

Much of Connecticut’s open land belongs to dairy farmers who are experiencing a large gap between the price to produce milk and the amount they receive for the milk. Sustaining these farms protects our local food supply and maintains valuable open land. At the same time, this legislation is likely to protect the Community Investment Act from state budget gap-closing raids.

An Act Concerning Brownfields Development Projects

Passed 36 to 0 in the Senate, 151 to 0 in the House in the January to June 2009 Session of the Connecticut General Assembly

The legislation makes the use of old mills on brownfield properties exempt from a floodplain requirement that applies to other state agency actions. (The language is identical to An Act Concerning Floodplain Management and Mill Properties)

It exempts properties taken in eminent domain from the transfer act so long as the party acquiring the property didn’t create or contribute to contaminating the site, the party participates in the voluntary remediation program, and complies with the voluntary program’s schedules and approvals. It extends the transfer act exemption to municipal economic development agencies and nonprofit economic development corporations.

The legislation reduces the legal obligations of people who acquire title for remediated brownfield properties from municipalities/ municipal economic development agencies/and nonprofit economic development corporations so long as they were not responsible for the pollution and are not directly or indirectly related to the person who is responsible for the contamination.

When properties are sold, the municipality/economic development agency/nonprofit economic development corporation retains 20 percent of the proceeds from the sale. They must deploy the proceeds for economic development capital improvements. Eighty percent of the proceeds must be transferred to the Office of Brownfield Remediation and Development to fuel future remediations.

The legislation conveys “innocent party status” to municipalities/municipal economic development agencies/nonprofit economic development corporations/nonstock LLCs formed by municipalities that receive funding from the Office of Brownfield Remediation and Development. This frees them of liability for pollution they did not cause. If the municipal entities listed above exacerbated contamination on the site, their liability is limited to the pollution directly attributable to their negligence or recklessness.

Municipalities get permission to enter and investigate sites if the property owner can’t be located, the site has a tax lien, the site is the target of eminent domain, or the municipality’s legislative body determines the property is underutilized. The municipality must give 45 day’s notice to the owner before entering the property. The municipality isn’t liable for any contamination it finds on the sites so long as it doesn’t cause or contribute to the pollution and it reports environmental hazards as required. If the municipality’s agent exacerbates the pollution, the city or town will only be liable for the contamination contributed by its agent’s recklessness and negligence.

Property owners may object to municipal meddling within 30 days of receiving notice from the city or town. They can only object if they are in the process of completing a comprehensive environmental assessment and have paid delinquent taxes.

The legislation establishes an abandoned brownfield cleanup program. Eligible properties must be contaminated properties that have been significantly underused since October 1, 1999. Eligible applicants must be willing to acquire title, remediate and redevelop the sites. The sites must have a regional or municipal economic development benefit. The applicant must not have created anything that could reasonably be expected to pollute the water of the state. The applicant isn’t under an order to clean up pollution on the property. The person responsible for the pollution is indeterminable or not able to clean up the property; and the Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner may establish additional criteria at his/her discretion. The awardee must follow the guidelines for investigation and remediation established in the voluntary remediation program and must prevent any further pollution migration. People who have title to abandoned brownfield properties under the program are released from liability for investigating or remediating pollution that may have emanated from the property before they take title.

The legislation says that unless the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection says otherwise in writing, investigation and remediation will follow a prescribed schedule where investigation will begin within two years, remediation will be initiated within three years, and there is verification of completion not later than eight years.

Licensed environmental professionals may submit plans to DEP on behalf of site owners or municipalities.

The legislation gives preference for green remediation technologies where possible.

Connecticut has thousands of underutilized brownfield sites. Many of the sites are in ideal smart growth redevelopment areas. Developers and municipalities have long complained that the state’s legal and bureaucratic constraints coupled with a lack of funding keep the sites dirty and dilapidated. Though this legislation provides no new capital, it does make significant attempts to shake loose some of the other constraints.

An Act Concerning Regionalism

Passed 36 to 0 in the Senate, 134 to 13 in the House in the January to June 2009 Session of the Connecticut General Assembly

The legislation makes no changes to what towns or cities are enabled to do. It reiterates that mayors/first selectmen of two or more cities and towns in the same economic development district may agree to promote regional economic development and share the tax revenue from that economic development.

It stipulates that if municipal officials choose to enter into such an agreement, the agreement must include an agreement not to compete for new economic development, and identify the areas for:
· new economic development,
· open space and natural resource preservation,
· transit oriented development,
· capital improvements,
· regional energy consumption,
· arts and cultural asset sharing.

In addition, the agreement must include terms for three municipal copperative programs and three education cooperative programs. (For example: collective bargaining, purchasing, health care pooling, curriculum development, special education services, etc.)

Every municipality that is party to the agreement must participate in one general governmental cooperative program and one educational cooperative program. A copy of the agreement is to be provided to the Office of Policy and Management.

Under this legislation, Regional Councils of Elected Officials are required to promote regional economic development agreements and to identify the opportunities for and obstacles to agreements between towns within the region.

Earlier drafts of the bill would have made participating cities and towns eligible for federal economic development grants and would have provided cities and towns that prepared such agreements with a share of the sales tax and the hotel tax generated in their regions.

The bill as passed provides no incentives to regionalize.

An Act Concerning Floodplain Management and Mill Properties

Passed 35 to 0 in the Senate, 142 to 0 in the House in the January to June 2009 Session of the Connecticut General Assembly

The legislation makes the use of old mills on brownfield properties exempt from a floodplain requirement that applies to other state agency actions.

No longer will state agencies wishing to use brownfield mill properties be required to seek the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection’s approval for proposed activity in a floodplain. After October 1, 2009, for mills on brownfields, agencies must only show to the Commissioner’s satisfaction that the activity (1) is subject to state environmental remediation regulations, (2) is limited to the area of the property where mill uses have historically occurred, and (3) complies with the National Flood Insurance Program. An agency proposing a critical activity also must show that the proposed critical activity is above the 500-year flood mark.

People seeking to bring back mills located in floodplains have frequently been thwarted by the state’s floodplain policy. This legislation is intended to ease revitalization of mill properties that are on brownfields in the floodplain.

An Act Improving Bicycle and Pedestrian Access

Passed 31 to 4 in the Senate, 123 to 20 in the House in the January to June 2009 Session of the Connecticut General Assembly

This legislation does three things. It requires that a reasonable amount (after October 1, 2010 not less than one percent) of funds dedicated to construction or rehabilitation of highways and streets be used to provide sidewalks, bike lanes, curb cuts, etc. for pedestrians and cyclists.

It creates an eleven-member bicycle and pedestrian advisory board whose charge will be to examine the need for bicycle and pedestrian transportation, promote programs and facilities for cyclists and walkers, and advise state agencies on bike- & pedestrian-friendly policies and programs.

Finally, the legislation requires the Commissioner of the Department of Transportation submit a report on October first of this year and next to the General Assembly. The report will list Special Transportation Fund supported projects that contact bicycle and pedestrian access. The list will spell out the project title, scope, funding source, description and cost of bicycle and pedestrian components, and include the estimated timeframe for project completion.

This legislation says in the State of Connecticut complete streets is our priority.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

An Act Concerning Membership on Regional Planning Agencies

Passed 126 to 1 in the House and 36 to 0 in the Senate in the January to June 2009 Session of the Connecticut General Assembly

This legislation increases the membership on regional planning agencies in five of the state's 15 planning regions. Previously cities and towns in the regions had two representatives on the RPA. Those with populations over 25,000 had an additional representative for every 50,000 people. The regional planning agencies are: Central Connecticut RPA, Connecticut River Estuary RPA, Greater Bridgeport RPA, Midstate RPA, and Southwestern Connecticut RPA.

The legislation makes each municipality's chief elected official or his/her designee a member or the RPA. This increases the base membership from two to three people and adds one member who is accountable to the voters. Originally, the bill was intended to make the membership of the regional planning agencies directly accountable to the electorate in preparation for securing more general government responsibility. It does make the membership more accountable to voters. But it also waters down the representation of larger communities in these regional organizations.

The legislation adds no additional responsibilities or resources to regional planning agencies.

An Act Concerning Projects of Regional Significance

Passed unanimously in the House and Senate in the January to June 2009 Session of the Connecticut General Assembly

This legislation requires regional planning organizations to come up with a process for applicants of very large projects – 500,000 square feet of indoor commercial or industrial space, 250 housing units in structures shorter than four stories, or with 1000 parking spaces – to meet with representatives of state agencies and neighboring municipalities at the beginning of the projects.

These meetings would be mandatory for state agency staff, and one representative from impacted towns in the region would be required to attend. Still, no decisions made in the meetings would be binding.

The goal is to bring all the regulators to the same page early on in a project so approvals can flow in a more timely way.

The bill provides no additional funding to the regional organizations to manage these meetings.

An Act Establishing a Land Value Taxation Pilot Program

Passed unanimously in the House and Senate in the January to June 2009 Session of the Connecticut General Assembly

This is essentially a “study” bill. It enables the City of New London to convene a group of stakeholders to plan a land value tax program.
In its completed form, the plan should include:
· a process for separating the tax rates of buildings from that of land,
· an identified geography for a land value tax pilot program (this would likely translate to the main business district down town), and
· a list of legal and administrative issues that have to be considered or resolved before assessments can be changed in this way.

When the plan has been approved by the city’s legislative body, it is to be submitted to the Office of Policy and Management. OPM will review the plan, create a pilot land value tax program, and report on the program to the relevant committees of the Connecticut General Assembly.

New London will be ideally positioned to test the theory that a fear of higher property taxes motivates owners to defer investing in blighted, distressed or vacant properties. If improvements to land are taxed at a lower rate, will the incentive switch and will property owners maximize the development on their land? New London has more than its share of vacant or under-used properties in its downtown. This pilot may encourage compact, mixed use development on those sites.

An Act Concerning Extending the Time of Expiration of Certain Land Use Permits

Passed 36 to 0 in the Senate, 138 to 2 in the House in the January to June 2009 Session of the Connecticut General Assembly

This bill gives developers an extra year to complete projects that are currently underway. It extends statutory deadlines approved by planning & zoning and inland wetland agencies between July 1, 2006 and July 1, 2009 for certain developments.

Though this bill was referred to as a smart growth bill, the reality is the beneficiaries of the extension are likely to be small, residential subdivision developers. The extensions do not apply to large residential projects with 400 or more units, and they don’t apply to business site plans of at least 400,000 square feet.

Community Development Binghampton Style -- Follow the Leader!

Binghamton, NY Smart Growth Commission Releases Final Report

Follow its lead in your community!

Convened by Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan and the City Council in April 2008, the Commission on Sustainable Development and Smart Growth recently released its final report, calling for a comprehensive effort to ensure the city's long-term well-being, with a focus on economic development, green construction, land use, stormwater management, and strong climate-change measures.

Having defined sustainable development as the kind that meets the present needs while safeguarding and improving economic, social and environmental resources and the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, the commission researched best Smart Growth practices and worked out recommendations for progress in nine broad categories.

Find the full report at

Monday, June 8, 2009

An Act Establishing a Tax Credit for Green Buildings

Passed 36 to 0 in the Senate, 143 to 4 in the House in the Jan. to June 2009 Session of the Connecticut General Assembly

This bill creates a transferable tax credit to finance green building that is applicable on or after January 1, 2012.

The size of the credit would be determined based on: the costs for construction or rehabilitation; commissioning; architectural and engineering fees (including energy modeling); site costs like temporary electric wiring; scaffolding; demolition; fencing and security; carpeting; partitions; walls and wall coverings; ceilings; lighting; plumbing; electrical; mechanical; heating; cooling and ventilation.
The credit would not apply to the costs to purchase or remediate land, or to provide phone or computer systems.

Eligible projects would be rated LEED gold or equivalent as determined by the Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. The credit would apply only to those buildings in the project that meet the gold or platinum standard.

The credit would not exceed $25 million in the aggregate and taxpayers may not claim the credit for more than 25 percent of allowable costs in any income year.
The credit could be applied as follows: LEED platinum = 10.5 percent; LEED gold = eight percent; Core & shell platinum = seven percent; core & shell gold = five percent. Plus an additional .5 percent for projects that are mixed-use; located in a brownfield or enterprise zone, do not require sewer extensions of more than 1/8 mile, are located within ¼ mile walking distance of bus transit or ½ mile walking distance of rail, light rail, streetcar or ferry.

The Office of Policy and Management will be required to report to the General Assembly and the Governor on the status of the tax credit program on or before July 1 2013. That report is to include: number of applications for the credit, amount granted, geographical distribution of credits, and any other information the Secretary of OPM would like to include.

This tax credit will provide a much-needed source of subsidy for smart, sustainable developments.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Smart Growth Legislative Sucesses

Congratulations and thank you! The final gavel of the 2009 legislative session fell at mid-night last night. It punctuated successful bipartisan efforts for smart, sustainable growth.

Bills passed that will:
• define smart growth and make it integral to the state’s planning,
• encourage regionalism,
• finance green developments near transit,
• expedite the cleanup and reuse of polluted sites,
• prop-up struggling dairy farmers,
• protect a dedicated revenue source, the Community Investment Account, for
affordable housing, open space, farmland and historic preservation, and
• make streets friendlier to cyclists, walkers and transit users.

These successes shine a light on the power of strong coalitions and passionate & dedicated champions.

Thank you to Representative Sharkey; Representative Berger; Representative Kehoe; all the members of the Smart Growth Working Group; all the members of the Brownfield Task Force; the coalition of bicycle and pedestrian advocates; the smart growth developers working for the tax credit; the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities and especially the cities of New Haven, Waterbury and Stamford; the dairy, farmland, open space, historic preservation and affordable housing advocates; and a special thanks to the Members of the Campaign to Grow Connecticut Smart!

Connecticut is rich with leaders, visionaries, reasonable compromisers and hard-fighters. Because of you, its future is bright!

Please take time to thank the leadership and members of the House and Senate. Then pat yourself on the back and thank your colleagues and fellow advocates. You did a great job!

Finally, please urge the Governor to pass the bills and celebrate our smart, sustainable, responsible growth.

Yours, H

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Brownfields Bill and Legislative Drama

The movement of the brownfields bill currently before the Senate HB6097 is a fascinating legislative case study.

The 48-page bill seeks to limit liability, hold polluters accountable and expedite clean ups -- all without providing new resources for remediation or reuse.

The bill is the result of three years of stakeholder task force research and reports. It sailed through the House with relative ease just before 11 PM on Friday but is bogged down in the Senate.

Yesterday, the following interests swarmed the Senate to advocate for their preferred langauge: the Department of Economic and Community Development, the Department of Environmental Protection, the cities of Stamford, Waterbury and New Haven, the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, brownfield developers, and brownfield attorneys.

With thousands of brownfield sites across the state, the stakes are high. Will all the advocacy result in a bill that cleans up polluted sites, protects our environment, and puts underutilized, vacant and abandoned properties back to life, generating economic activity and tax revenue?

No question, it's a difficult balance, but one we can't wait any longer to reach.