PA 09-230—sHB 6467

Planning and Development Committee

Appropriations Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING SMART GROWTH AND THE STATE PLAN OF CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT POLICIES PLAN

SUMMARY: The law requires the state, regions, and municipalities to prepare periodic plans for balancing the need to conserve and develop land. This act postpones, from March 1, 2009 to March 1, 2011, the deadline for revising the five-year State Plan of Conservation and Development (State Plan of C&D), which the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) prepares. In doing so, it resets the schedule for revising the plan and pushes back the deadline for recommending priority-funding areas. The act also requires the plan's next two revisions to be consistent with the state's plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Municipalities must prepare 10-year plans of conservation and development. Prior law disqualified those that failed to update their plans from discretionary state funds until they did so or the OPM secretary waived this provision. The act suspends the provision until the next time the state adopts its revised Plan of C&D, which, under the act, must happen by July 1, 2012.

Lastly, the act requires the Continuing Legislative Committee on State Planning and Development to study how OPM: (1) prepares the State Plan of C&D and incorporates specified smart growth principles in it, (2) applies the plan and these principles to state agency actions, and (3) integrates the plan with municipal and regional plans of C&D. The committee must consult with specified groups and report its findings and recommendations to the legislature by February 1, 2010.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage, except for the change concerning municipal plans of development, which takes effect July 1, 2010.

STATE PLAN OF C&D

New Timeframes for Revising

The State Plan of C&D sets policies for locating large-scale, state-funded capitol projects. By postponing the deadline for revising the plan, the act resets the time period for the next plan from 2010-2015 to 2012-2017. The plan's policy guidelines aim to preserve farms, forests, and open space by locating large-scale, state funded development projects in places where roads, sewers, and other supporting infrastructure already exist.

By pushing back the deadline for completing the next revision, the act also pushes back OPM's deadline for recommending priority funding areas (places where the state can fund growth-related projects). PA 05-205 required OPM to submit its recommendations to the Continuing Committee along with the revised plan for 2010-2015. By law, the committee must submit its priority funding areas recommendations to the legislature, along with the revised plan, for approval.

The act also resets the statutory schedule for revising the plan. The table below compares the schedule under the prior law and the act.

Action

Prior Law

Act

Submit draft of revised plan to Continuing Committee

September 1, 2008

September 1, 2010

Make further revisions

Between December 1, 2008 and March 1, 2009

Between December 1, 2010 and March 1, 2011

Publish and disseminate plan

No later than March 1, 2009

March 1, 2011

Conduct hearings

Not later than five months after publication (July 31, 2009)

Not later than five months after publication (July 31, 2011)

Submit final draft to Continuing Committee

No later than three months after the hearings (October 31, 2009)

By December 1, 2011 for the 2012-2017 plan (subsequent plans must be submitted no later than three months after the hearing)

Consistency with Climate Change Action Plan

By law, the State Plan of C&D must promote specific policy goals, including reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the state. The act specifies that this goal must be consistent with the Connecticut Climate Change Action Plan. It also eliminates the requirement that OPM, together with the Department of Environmental Protection, report every three years on the net amount of carbon dioxide annually emitted in Connecticut.

PLANNING STUDY

Consultation

In studying how the state prepares and applies the State Plan of C&D, the act requires the 10-member Continuing Committee to consult with municipalities, regional planning organizations, state agencies, the public, and other stakeholders.

Smart Growth Principles

The act requires the Continuing Committee to determine how OPM incorporates smart growth principles in the plan and how state agencies apply them. It bases the principles on its definition of “smart growth,” that is economic, social, and environmental development that:

1. simultaneously promotes economic competitiveness and preserves natural resources and

2. allows state, regional, and municipal officials and the communities and constituents they serve to collaboratively plan, make decisions, and evaluate policies.

The development must use financial or other incentives to promote competitiveness and preserve resources.

The principles must be in the form of standards and objectives that can help policy makers act and decide in ways that support and encourage smart growth. The standards and criteria may include:

1. integrating planning to coordinate state, regional, and local tax, transportation, housing, environmental, and economic development policies;

2. reducing the extent to which municipalities depend on the property tax and compete for new growth by delivering services regionally;

3. redeveloping existing infrastructure and resources, including brownfields and historic places;

4. providing rail, public transit, bikeways, walking, and other transportation alternatives to automobile travel while reducing energy consumption;

5. developing or preserving housing affordable to households with different incomes (a) near transportation and employment centers or (b) where such housing is compatible with smart growth;

6. concentrating mixed use, mixed income development near transit nodes and civic, employment, or cultural centers; and

7. conserving and protecting natural resources by preserving open space, water resources, farmland, environmentally sensitive areas, and historic property and furthering energy efficiency.

BACKGROUND

Connecticut Climate Change Action Plan

The Governor's Steering Committee on Climate Change prepared this plan and made specific recommendations for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The plan recommends (1) supporting landfill-to-gas energy projects to capture and use methane as a fuel and (2) increasing recycling and source reduction. It set a goal of reducing non-farm fertilizer use by 7. 5% in 2010 and 15% in 2020. The plan also recommends:

1. setting minimum efficiency levels for appliances;

2. encouraging consumers to replace old appliances with newer, more efficient ones; and

3. identifying measures to reduce gases with high global warming potential.

Continuing Legislative Committee on State Planning and Development

By law, this 10-member committee must set broad goals and objectives for the state's physical and economic development and send them to the OPM secretary. It also must review and approve the State Plan of C&D each time the secretary changes or revises it (CGS 4-60d).

The committee is chaired by the Senate and House chairpersons of the Planning and Development Committee. The other members are appointed by the legislative leaders. The Senate president pro tempore and the House speaker appoint two members each; the Senate and House majority and minority leaders each appoint one member.

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