Introducing NVCOG’s New Transportation Planner

We are thrilled to announce Christian Damiana’s arrival at the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments as our newest Transportation Planner in 2024.  

Christian joins us after years of advocacy for safer streets for all in the nation’s capital. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies in Communications, Law, Economics, and Government and his Master of Public Administration at American University. Christian previously worked for a Councilmember of the District of Columbia as a Policy Advisor and Communications Director. He also served as Commissioner for ANC 3D07, becoming the youngest elected official in the history of the District of Columbia.  

Christian looks forward to working with NVCOG to create safe streets, accessible transit, and more livable communities across the Naugatuck Valley region. Christian, originally from Berlin, CT, now resides in Hartford, CT’s West End, with his partner and Chow Chow puppy, Calvin. In his free time, Christian enjoys visiting museums, antiquing, and taking advantage of Connecticut’s public green spaces. 

NEWS RELEASE: Governor Lamont Announces $7.2 Million in State Grants To Support the Remediation and Assessment of Blighted Properties in Nine Municipalities

Seal for the Office of the Connecticut Governor

Click here to access the press release from the office of Governor Ned Lamont

(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont announced that he has approved the release of $7.2 million in state grants that will be used to support the remediation and assessment of blighted properties in nine municipalities across Connecticut, consisting of 713 acres of land. The funds will support these communities with investigating and cleaning up these properties so they can be redeveloped and put back into productive use to support economic growth.

The grants, which are being released through the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development’s (DECD) Brownfield Remediation and Development Program, will leverage $228,981,747 in private investments and are expected to create approximately 853 jobs. The overwhelming majority of the funds – 94% – are being directed to distressed municipalities, where developable land is often scarce and economic revitalization efforts take on added importance.

“Nobody wants to live in a community that has old, polluted, blighted properties that sit vacant for decades when this land could be used for productive purposes, such as business growth and new housing,” Governor Lamont said. “By partnering with municipalities and developers, we can clean up these lifeless properties and bring them back from the dead.”

“DECD’s brownfields program is critical to building vibrancy in our communities,” DECD Interim Commissioner Dan O’Keefe said. “We continue to invest in remediation and assessment activities because they are the linchpin to opening up new opportunities for private investment and economic growth at the local level.”

The grants announced today under this round include:


  • Ansonia: $3,800,000 grant to dispose of existing demolition debris pile and remediate the 8.56-acre property located at 31-165 Olsen Drive to prepare the property for redevelopment. Remediation will consist of the excavation and off-site disposal of approximately 9,000 tons of contaminated fill and implementation of an engineered control. Following remediation, a new multi-sport indoor/outdoor complex will be constructed that will include a 49,000-square foot all-sports training building, a 39,000-square foot indoor soccer facility and a FIFA league size soccer field with bleachers, lighting, and parking facilities. The multi-facility complex will have a total private investment of $16,400,000.
  • New Haven: $990,000 grant to perform soil remediation, excavation, and disposal of impacted soils on the 0.8-acre parcel located at 265 South Orange Street (formerly home to the New Haven Veterans Memorial Coliseum). This will enable the construction of a 277,435 sq. ft. Class A life sciences and tech office building.
  • New Haven: $995,600 grant to abate and demolish the four vacant and dilapidated buildings on the 1.73-acre site located at 10 Liberty Street. The cleanup work will enable the construction of a five-story, 150-unit affordable housing complex.


  • Ansonia: $200,000 grant to further the investigation of the environmental issues at the Former Ansonia Copper and Brass properties located at 75 Liberty Street and 7 Riverside Drive.
  • Danbury: $200,000 grant to perform an assessment on the adjoining properties at 72-80 Maple Avenue and East Franklin Street, former home to warehouse operations for Amphenol, which will help determine possible future use for the property.
  • East Hartford: $178,800 grant to perform various site assessments at a former industrial paper mill site at 87 Church Street. Redevelopment plans include constructing the country’s first hydro-powered liquor distillery accompanied with a tasting room.
  • Griswold: $110,000 grant to conduct investigations of the former repair garage and gas station located at 1554-1560 Voluntown Road to determine the type and extent of subsurface contaminants on the site.
  • Lisbon: $120,000 grant to conduct assessments of the former Lisbon Textile Prints company site located at 99 River Road. This will allow the town to rezone the property and enable future mixed-use and commercial uses. Funds will also be used to develop a remedial action plan.
  • New Milford: $200,000 grant for the assessment of three properties, including the buildings located at 6 Youngs Field Road, 20 Youngs Field Road, and 72 Housatonic Avenue (currently used by the town’s Department of Public Works) to determine a remediation strategy that will allow for future remediation and development of the properties as a whole. The Department of Public Works is preparing to relocate to a new site.
  • Putnam: $200,000 grant to update and complete the environmental assessment of the former Putnam Foundry site located at 2 Furnace Street and the John M. Dean Company located at 20 Mechanics Street to determine a remediation plan that will accommodate future mixed-use housing and commercial space.
  • Sprague: $200,000 grant to conduct additional site investigations of the former Paper Manufacturing site located at 130 Inland Road in Baltic. The assessments will determine the extent of subsurface contaminants on the site to allow for future remediation and current waste treatment expansion and other potential uses.

For more information on the Brownfield Remediation and Development program, visit

Twitter: @GovNedLamont
Facebook: Office of Governor Ned Lamont

NVCOG and CNVMPO – December Meeting

The December NVCOG and CNVMPO Meeting was held in-person at the NVCOG offices and livestreamed on YouTube on December 15, 2023 at 10 am. The monthly meeting is an opportunity to hear from municipal leaders in the Naugatuck Valley as they discuss issues facing the region.

During the forum, the NVCOG and CNVMPO welcomed new Chief Elected Officials Mayor Pernerewski of Waterbury and Mayor DiMartino of Derby. The meeting featured speakers from the America 250 CT Commission, including Denise Merril, former secretary of the State and Chair of the commission, Jason Mancini, Vice Chair, and Sarah E. Harris, Vice Chair of the Mohegan Tribal Council.

The meeting unveiled an exciting investment into Connecticut, setting the stage for the state’s commemoration and reflection on the 250 anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 2026.

The regular council meeting agenda covered updates including financial reports, director’s insights, environmental and transportation planning updates. A spotlight on municipal affairs included a presentation from the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection’s Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program, emphasizing services and funding opportunities available for enhanced community connectivity.

Watch the live recording of the meeting on NVCOG’s YouTube Channel.

Photo Gallery

NVCOG Engineers Take on Transportation Resilience International Conference on Extreme Weather and Climate Change in Washington, D.C.

In November, NVCOG Transportation Engineers Karen Svetz and Kevin Ellis attended the Transportation Resilience International Conference on Extreme Weather and Climate Change Challenges held at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Washington, D.C.

Attendees learned about emerging best practices and state-of-the-art research results on how to adapt transportation networks to the potential impacts of climate change and extreme weather events that are becoming increasingly prevalent in our country and around the world.

During the conference, presenters from the Federal Highway Administration, other states, as well as other countries, shared how they conduct research, collect data, analyze the data, quantify the risk, and prepare resilience plans. The objective of the planning is to identify resilience needs, develop specific strategies to anticipate, prepare for and mitigate events that put the transportation network at risk of disruption and damage.

Climate-related events can damage roads, bridges, railways, ports, and other transportation assets. These events include river and stream flooding, changes in sea level, drought, excessive rainfall, wildfires, changes in temperature, and the like.

With the likelihood of these events increasing in frequency, it is important to create plans and strategies with the expectation that the damages, deaths, and disruption to the affected communities can be better anticipated and reduced. 

NVCOG’s Successful 2023 RBP Annual Meeting On Brownfield Transformation

Aerial image over Ansonia’s Maple Street Bridge with downtown Main Street in the background.

The Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments hosted the 2023 annual meeting of the Regional Brownfields Partnership on Wednesday, December 6, 2023, at the newly revitalized Senior Center in Ansonia, located at 65 Main Street. The meeting brought together Regional Brownfields Partnership (RBP) members, public and private stakeholders, and brownfield enthusiasts. This year’s choice of venue, the recently rejuvenated Senior Center, served as a symbolic testament to the potential of brownfield redevelopment. 

The core focus was on the transformative impact of brownfields, championed by visionary Chief Elected Officials (CEOs), who embrace brownfield redevelopment. The commitment is clear – to reclaim vacant or abandoned brownfield sites, transforming them into tax-generating parcels that positively impact member communities.  

2023 Financial Overview

Michael Szpryngel, NVCOG Finance Director, provided key insights into the Regional Brownfields Program’s financial reports.  

Noteworthy financial points included: 

  • A substantial $4.1 million in active NVCOG DECD grants and $810k in active CTBLB DECD grants have significantly contributed to the program’s initiatives. 
  • 100% of NVCOG and CTBLB DECD applications have been fully funded. 
  • Over the past two years, the RBP municipalities have been awarded a total of $18 million in active DECD grants.  

Connecticut Brownfield Land Bank (CTBLB) Update

Rick Dunne, CTBLB President, provided a comprehensive update on the completed and pending projects for the 2023 calendar year across various RBP municipalities: Ansonia, Bristol, Derby, East Hampton, Seymour, Southington, and Waterbury. The Connecticut Brownfield Land Bank, Inc. (Land Bank) is a fee-based, non-profit corporation offering brownfields support to Connecticut municipalities. To learn more about CTBLB visit the website at 

Program Updates & Project Activities

Steven Perry, NVCOG Environmental Planner mentioned significant events and milestones such as the O’Sullivan Island Pier Grand Opening in Derby in July 2023 and the 313 Mill Street, Waterbury George Tirado Sr. Park opening ceremony in September 2023. A notable project involves the progress in remedial activities at 698 South Main Street, Waterbury (Amanet).

To learn more about active and completed Brownfields projects visit the Brownfields Projects – NVCOG CT – Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments.  

Seated at the Ansonia Senior Center, all participants are fully engaged and actively listening to the presentation.

Engaging Discussions

Attendees participated in enriching discussions led by distinguished guest speakers.  

The team from Tighe & Bond, James Olsen, Nicholas Granata, and Harley Langford, delved into Brownfield Due Diligence Requirements and illuminated the crucial roles of Licensed Environmental Professionals. 

Randi Mendes, PhD and Katie Malgioglio, MSW, from UConn Technical Assistance for Brownfields Program (TAB) provided insights into their services and highlighted their crucial role in community engagement support. 

Mayor Carbone of Torrington and Karmen Cheung of Pennrose discussed the success story of the 100 Franklin Street Riverfront Redevelopment. 

Special Guests Recognized

The event also acknowledged the presence of esteemed guests: 

  • Katy Deng, Project Officer, EPA
  • Kayin Bankole, Project Officer, EPA
  • Meena Mortazavi, Environmental Analyst, DEEP
  • Amanda Limacher, Brownfield Coordinator, DEEP
  • Selena Thornhill-Moody, DEEP
  • Kelsey Shields, DEEP
  • Jennine Lupo, District Director, Office of Congresswoman Jahana Hayes 
  • David Morgan, President, TEAM Inc.

A special note of gratitude to Mayor Cassetti and the City of Ansonia for hosting this significant event.

The NVCOG’s 2023 Annual Meeting was not just a gathering; it was a collaborative exploration of possibilities, marking a significant milestone in the ongoing efforts to shape the future of brownfield redevelopment. Stay tuned for more updates on the RBP’s program updates and project activities. 

Presentation Materials

Watch the Video Recap

Stay Connected

The Regional Brownfields Partnership (RBP) is an NVCOG-hosted committee that is collaborating to address the collective redevelopment challenges that brownfields present in the region. 

Subscribe to the RBP Newsletter to receive updates from our Brownfields Team, Ricardo Rodriguez and Steven Perry, on some of the many active brownfield projects and funding opportunities in the RBP region. 

PRESS RELEASE: Trash Reduction Pilot “Green Storytime” Scheduled for Thursday, December 28th in Middlebury

Tom Dougherty
Environmental Planner
Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments
(203) 725-3096

Trash Reduction Pilot “Green Storytime”  Scheduled for Thursday, December 28th in Middlebury 

(Middlebury, CT) – The Middlebury Public Library, with support from the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments (NVCOG), will host a Green Storytime for children ages 4 and up. This Storytime aims to bring awareness about recycling and sustainable waste habits to the community. This event will be held at the Middlebury Public Library located at 30 Crest Rd, Middlebury, CT 06762 from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 28, 2023. Children will learn about reducing, reusing, and recycling waste, and have the opportunity to play a recycling game and do a craft. Registration is required. To register call 203-758-2634 or sign up in person at the library. 

This event continues NVCOG’s efforts to promote Middlebury’s Trash Reduction Pilot, which began on July 1st for Transfer Station users and aims to reduce trash and divert organics.  The pilot is funded by the Sustainable Materials Management Grants Program from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. To learn more about NVCOG’s role in this program, visit 

Middlebury’s pilot involves the distribution of free trash bags (orange) and food scrap bags (green) to Transfer Station users. Residents are asked to dispose of green food scrap bags in a “food waste” container located at the Transfer Station and dispose of their orange trash bags in the usual dumpster.  

The initial year’s supply of bags will be available at the Middlebury Transfer Station if you have not already received yours. A broad base of support for these programs among community organizations across the state shows promise for solving CT’s waste crisis.   

Community Conversations: Cheshire, CT is a Beacon of Proactive Development and Community Engagement

Crafted by NVCOG staff, each installment of the the “Community Conversations” spotlight serves as a community-driven article. In these sessions, staff engage with a specific community to explore various topics of their choosing. 

Written by Heidy Coronel, Communications Associate
Informational poster on Bartlem Park South fence: “What’s up with this? Improvements in the works!”

Cheshire’s Remarkable Journey

Cheshire, Connecticut, nestled in the Naugatuck Valley Planning Region, stands as an extraordinary exemplar of proactive development and community engagement. Our recent exploration alongside Mike Glidden, Cheshire’s Town Planner, offered a firsthand glimpse into the remarkable developments transforming this community.

Cheshire’s success hinges on two pivotal themes: placemaking and relationship building. The Town’s emphasis on creating a vibrant, attractive community, bolstered by excellent amenities and an exceptional school system, lures families and professionals alike. Proactive planning, community-wide investment, and a culture of relationship building has spurred development, bringing positive dividends to the Town.

Growth Story

Cheshire’s evolution over the past few years has been nothing short of remarkable. This includes the addition of 700 apartments, several of which carry deed restrictions, alongside the construction of 500 new single-family homes. Furthermore, a modernization project led to the establishment of two new schools. A standout feature of this growth story is the Bartlem Park South Project, anticipated to be completed in fall 2024, which includes an amphitheater, walking areas, passive recreation spaces, and high-quality fields for both residents and visitors. Innovative signages, equipped with QR codes, reflect Cheshire’s commitment to keeping citizens informed about their community.

What becomes abundantly clear in Cheshire’s development landscape is the high demand across various land use types, spanning industrial, commercial, residential, and municipal sectors. This demand is a testament to the town’s growing allure and potential for prosperous development.

Placemaking and Relationship Building

Cheshire demonstrates a commitment to placemaking, understanding that communities that invest in their image attract interest from various sectors. This commitment entails meticulous consideration of a project’s appearance from the pedestrian perspective and strategies to enhance public interaction with developments.

The remarkable achievements in Cheshire’s development efforts are undeniably a result of a collaborative effort. Mike Glidden, Town Planner, identified key stakeholders, such as a supportive Town Council, dedicated commissioners, engaged community members, Sean Kimball, the Town Manager, Andrew Martelli, the Coordinator of Economic Development & Grant Writing, and committed volunteers. Their synchronized collaboration is a testament to the significance of unity in community-driven development. Effective inter-departmental coordination has been pivotal to Cheshire’s successful initiatives.

Cheshire’s exceptional growth and community-driven development are emblematic of the power of synergy, forward-thinking planning, and active community participation. The experiences and insights derived from Cheshire’s journey are valuable for communities aspiring to mold their future. By the end of the tour, we were reminded that the phrase “It takes a village” holds true, especially in the context of progress-driven planning.

Mike Glidden, Cheshire Town Planner stands in front of the Cheshire Town Hall

Mike Glidden – The Town Planner

Mike Glidden, Cheshire’s Town Planner, is instrumental in the town’s development journey. His commitment to community involvement and relationship building has fostered effective planning and has cultivated an environment where developers want to invest. Mike’s approachability, open-door policy, and resilience are assets in this intricate role.

Mike also expressed deep respect and admiration for the town’s former Town Planner, Bill Voelker, AICP, who laid the groundwork for many of the master plans currently coming to fruition. Bill’s philosophy, “It’s their town; I’m just visiting,” reflects the fundamental principle of community-driven development and engagement.

Approachability and Community Knowledge

Mike emphasizes the essential qualities of approachability and judicious decision-making. Mike actively engages in comprehending individuals’ property goals, expertly navigating the delicate balance between personal desires and community regulations. While the best solutions create developments that meet the community’s and developer’s needs, Mike acknowledges that a planner’s role includes knowing when to say “no”, a practice that saves valuable time for all stakeholders involved. Deep familiarity with the community and a commitment to treating all individuals equally are at the core of effective planning.

Cheshire is distinguished by its proactive approach to planning, evident in their initiative to update the Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD) prior to their 2026 requirement.  Mike recognized the present development interests across sectors and the dynamic needs of the Town as the driving force behind the early plan update. He emphasized that this approach was made achievable through the collaborative support of the Town Council, and the Planning and Zoning Commission, illustrating how the Town’s joint efforts contribute to enhanced planning.  

A notable success story in Cheshire is the West Main Street project, marked by extensive community engagement. Over 100 individuals attended a community meeting, underscoring the community’s active participation in the development process. The town utilized a range of communication channels, including mailers, a dedicated website, and strategic use of social media.

Mike Glidden engages in conversation with Savannah-Nicole Villalba, AICP, AZT, Community Planning Director at NVCOG.

Cheshire’s Unique Essence

Cheshire, CT offers an insightful example of what can be achieved through proactive development, community engagement, and effective planning. This picturesque town is living proof that, through collaboration and unity, communities can reach new heights while preserving their unique charm. Cheshire’s remarkable journey serves as an inspiration for municipalities far and wide.

Stay Connected

Contact the Cheshire Planning and Development Department located at 84 South Main Street Cheshire, CT 06410. Telephone: 203 271-6670 Fax: 203 271-6688

Sean Kimball, Town Manager

Mike Glidden, Town Planner

Andrew Martelli, Coordinator of Economic Development & Grant Writing

Learn more about Cheshire’s municipal initiatives on the town’s official website.

Explore a range of valuable resources and NVCOG projects on the Cheshire NVCOG web page.

Municipal Land Use Best Practice: Woodbury’s Variance Guide

The quarterly “Municipal Land Use Best Practice” spotlight, curated by the NVCOG Community Planning staff, is dedicated to showcasing municipal best practices. Designed to serve as a valuable resource for Town Planners, Commissioners, and land use staff, each edition features an exemplary initiative from a municipality in the Naugatuck Valley region.

Written by Emely Ricci, Community Planner

William Agresta, AICP, MLA, the Town Planner in Woodbury, CT, shared how Woodbury’s Land Use Department facilitates education and informed decision making for variance applications. Will created a comprehensive document outlining the variance process: what is and what isn’t a hardship, the threshold a variance must meet, and the elements a Zoning Board of Appeals considers when making their decision.  

The purpose for creating the guide centered around two focal reasons. One, for applicants to have a foundational understanding of what a variance is to be able to participate in the process; and two, for commission members to continue making informed decisions in alignment with the community’s regulatory policies. The guide is provided and discussed with all applicants before an application for a variance is submitted. 

Woodbury Town Hall (Source: Town of Woodbury)

Will works to connect with and educate his community members when it comes to variances. In doing so, he helps an applicant to look at alternatives that are in harmony with a municipality’s regulations avoiding a variance, while still meeting the needs of the applicant, saving them both time and cost. 

The guide is attached to each staff report for a variance application.  The intention is to remind Commissioners of their purview when deliberating an application. The guide is also readily available on the Town’s website for residents to access as applicants or informed community members. 

Will’s approach towards the variance process is an example of how municipalities can facilitate consistent and accessible dissemination of information for members of the community.  

Stay Connected

Contact the Woodbury Land Use Department located at 281 Main St South Woodbury, CT. 06798. Telephone: 203-263-3467

William Agresta, AICP, MLA, Town Planner

Learn more about Woodbury on the town’s official website.

Explore a range of valuable resources and NVCOG projects on the Woodbury NVCOG web page.

PRESS RELEASE: Regional Brownfields Partnership to Celebrate Achievements at 2023 Annual Meeting in Ansonia’s Transformed Senior Center

For Immediate Release: November 21, 2023 

Desira Blanchard 
Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments  

Regional Brownfields Partnership to Celebrate Achievements at 2023 Annual Meeting in Ansonia’s Transformed Senior Center 

(Waterbury, CT) – The Regional Brownfields Partnership (RBP) is set to host its 2023 Annual Meeting at a recently revitalized brownfield, the City of Ansonia’s new Senior Center at 65 Main Street. This groundbreaking event, scheduled for 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, December 6, 2023, brings together members, public and private stakeholders, and brownfield enthusiasts for discussions on the transformative impact of brownfields. 

The RBP is at the forefront of brownfield redevelopment, uniting municipalities, community partners, and stakeholders to transform brownfields into vibrant community spaces. In partnership with the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments (NVCOG), the RBP diligently accesses federal and state brownfield funding to issue sub grants and low interest loans for assessment and cleanup activities. Member communities benefit not only from financial support but also gain access to expert guidance, navigating the intricate assessment, remediation, and clean-up processes. Currently, the partnership is engaged in 15 cleanup projects, aiming to reclaim vacant or abandoned brownfield sites and restore them to tax-generating parcels. 

Sheila O’Malley, Chair of the RBP, expressed pride in the organization’s impactful work, stating “I am proud of the work we have done over the years to remediate and return the brownfield sites in our 25 member communities. The RBP has had an impactful presence in the communities in terms of assessing, cleaning and returning the properties back to the tax rolls.”  

This year’s annual meeting will be held in the 65,000 sq. foot former manufacturing building, recently transformed into a state-of-the-art police department and senior center in Ansonia’s downtown. O’Malley highlighted the significance of the RBP and NVCOG’s efforts in this transformation and emphasized their ongoing commitment to making a positive difference in member communities.  

The choice of venue symbolizes the RBP’s commitment to showcasing the potential of brownfield revitalization. Attendees will witness firsthand the successful transformation of the Senior Center, illustrating how brownfields can evolve into vibrant community assets. The annual meeting promises a dynamic agenda, featuring engaging discussions on the pivotal role brownfields play in community development.  

Guest speakers include: 

  1. Tighe & Bond: Brownfield Due Diligence Requirements and the roles of Licensed Environmental Professionals
  2. UConn Technical Assistance for Brownfields Program (TAB): Services and Community Engagement Support
  3. Mayor Carbone of Torrington and Pennrose: A Conversation on the Success of the 100 Franklin Street Riverfront Redevelopment

This event is not just a meeting; it’s a platform for community engagement. Members, stakeholders, and enthusiasts will have the opportunity to connect, fostering collaboration and partnerships. 

For those interested in attending this transformative event, please RSVP to Parking is available at the venue and nearby municipal parking lots. 

For general questions regarding RBP membership, please email Steven Perry, Environmental Planner, at 


Sustainability Spotlight: Blight and Native Landscaping

Dive into the ‘Sustainability Spotlight’ by the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments, a municipal guide to blending sustainability with land use regulations. Uncover creative ideas and hands-on approaches to foster a greener, more sustainable future. 
Written by Christine O’Neill, Environmental Planner II

Many Connecticut municipalities have adopted blight ordinances to regulate unsightly properties that lower surrounding home values or create public health and safety issues. Such ordinances may be enforced by zoning officials, the police department, or a combination of the two. While these regulations serve an important role, they may unwittingly outlaw native landscaping from your community. 

Native landscaping uses plants that have historically grown in a given area to achieve ecological benefits. Native plants provide food for pollinators and wildlife, require less watering and maintenance than ornamental counterparts, and launch deeper root systems that prevent erosion and exchange nutrients with the soil. Another component of native landscaping is maintaining or emulating the natural processes of the ecosystem, such as not raking leaves in the fall or cutting back dormant plants. Two movements associated with native landscaping are “No Mow May” (allowing insects to emerge from overwintering while providing food sources for early pollinators) and “Leave the Leaves” (intentionally leaving layers of leaf-litter and duff, which are valuable for soil health, insect and amphibian habitat, and wildlife cover).   

Compared to the highly manicured gardening we often see, a native garden may look unruly – even falling into the definition of blight. Several municipalities in our region consider the following to be elements of blight: overgrown vegetation, leaf litter, grasses over a given number of inches, and “weeds.1”  

Consider amending your definition of blight to exclude native landscaping as described above. The Town of Cheshire in our region already excludes “areas maintained in their original naturally wooded state, or a natural field state” from its definition, while the City of Stamford carves out an exemption for “managed natural meadow landscapes.” Confer with your municipal counsel to ensure your proposed language is legally sound and enforceable.  

[1] Note: “Weeds” does not refer to any particular group of plants – it is a descriptive term used to characterize any plants that are undesirable in a given environment. One neighbor’s weed is another neighbor’s wildflower.

Please send any questions or suggestions to Christine O’Neill, Environmental Planner II at