Municipal Land Use Best Practice: Seymour’s “First Step” Zoning and Building Compliance Application Form

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 land use staff and Commissioners, each edition features an exemplary initiative from a municipality in the Naugatuck Valley region. 

Written by Molly Johnson, Community Planner

Keith Rosenfeld, Regional Municipal Planner for Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments and Shared Services Town Planner for the Town of Seymour, shared how Seymour has worked to streamline its permit application process to support interdepartmental coordination and transparency with applicants. For this reason, staff developed a “First Step” Zoning and Building Compliance Application Form for applicants to fill out and implement communication with town departments. The form prevents unnecessary trips to Town Hall for the applicant by listing out the process with an order of approval. It also prevents the potential for oversights in the decision-making process to ensure that the appropriate personnel are aware of projects taking place in the community.  

The form is attached to each application to help track its approval process in a single convenient location. It features relevant phone numbers, with places for signatures and dates. It has simple and clear directions for applicants to follow.  

Seymour’s “First Step” Zoning and Building Compliance Application Form is an example of a practical method for creating an efficient, organized, and effective application process at the municipal level. Readers can access the form below.  

Stay Connected 

Contact the Town of Seymour Staff, located at 1 First Street. Seymour, CT 06483.  Telephone: (203) 881-5008.  

Keith Rosenfeld, Town Planner, the Town of Seymour, krosenfeld@seymourct.org 

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

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

PRESS RELEASE: Public Meeting on Transportation Project Prioritization for The Central Naugatuck Valley

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 1, 2024 

Contact:
Desira Blanchard
Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments
203-489-0353
dblanchard@nvcogct.gov

Public Meeting on Transportation Project Prioritization for The Central Naugatuck Valley 

(Waterbury, CT) – The Central Naugatuck Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization (CNVMPO) invites the public to attend a hybrid public meeting to provide comments on the draft FY 2025 – 2028 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), the draft Air Quality Conformity Determination for the TIP and the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s draft FY 2025 – 2028 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). The meeting will take place on Thursday, March 7, 2024, at the NVCOG Offices (49 Leavenworth Street, 3rd floor, Waterbury, CT) from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. A Zoom option is available at https://bit.ly/3ORIPzT 

The CNVMPO prepares and maintains the TIP which outlines the region’s transportation priorities and projects, to be funded by federal and state funds, for the next four years. It includes a list of proposed transportation projects, such as roadway, transit, bicycle, and pedestrian improvements. The public meeting will provide an opportunity for community members, stakeholders, and decision-makers to learn about the proposed projects in the TIP and provide feedback on the prioritization and funding of these projects.  

The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) has developed a draft STIP covering all areas of the state. The STIP lists all federally funded transportation improvements, by federal funding category and by region, which are scheduled to occur over the same four-year period. 

A copy of both draft documents will be available for review at https://nvcogct.gov/project/25-28tip/ during a public comment period between March 1, 2024, and April 19, 2024. Written comments may be submitted via email to contactus@nvcogct.gov or mailed to Richard Donovan, Transportation Planning Director, at the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments, 49 Leavenworth Street, 3rd Floor, Waterbury, Connecticut 06702.  

Individuals with limited internet access can listen to the meeting by calling +1 929 205 6099 and entering the meeting ID when prompted: 822 7242 6344. A recording of the presentation will be posted to the NVCOG YouTube Channel following the event and closed captioning (including non-English translation options) will be available at that time.    

Language assistance is available to the public at no cost. For language assistance requests contact Desira Blanchard, Communications and Community Engagement Coordinator with the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments, at dblanchard@nvcogct.gov or at 203-757-0535. Requests should be made at least 5 business days prior to the meeting.   

People Behind the Plans: Meet NVCOG Community Planner, Emely Ricci

Driven by a passion for sustainable development and community-driven approaches, Emely Ricci is a dedicated Community Planner at the NVCOG. Emely grew up in Shelton, CT, and is a 2023 graduate of UConn’s Master’s in Public Administration program. She brings her expertise to lead various initiatives from open space inventory research to expanding education materials on accessibility in planning. Read on for a glimpse into Emely’s background and commitment to creating positive change in the region.  

A Conversation with Emely Ricci

Written by Molly Johnson, Community Planner
Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in planning, and how did you end up working at the NVCOG? 

I have always been committed to the environment and ensuring diverse voices have a seat at the table. Initially, I saw myself originally working at the State level for an organization such as DEEP.  However, my MPA program taught me about the various ways I could engage in this work, including urban planning. It was then that I saw the planning field as a potential career path. I found that regional planning connects the local level to the state level on a range of issues, providing a way to integrate research and give back to the community.  

Interestingly, Savannah-Nicole Villalba, AICP, the Community Planning Director, was one of the guest lecturers in my class, and she really inspired me. I approached her after class and asked her questions about how the tools and theories worked in real life. She even invited me for a visit to the NVCOG. Ultimately, those experiences transitioned me from the classroom into this exciting profession.  

Q: What are some personal values or principles that guide your decision-making as a planner, especially when dealing with complex issues? 

Flexibility is an important value in my work. For example, I am supporting the Town of Thomaston with their Plan of Conservation and Development update, which addresses topics such as economic development, environmental, transportation, open space, housing, land use, and utilities and involves many stakeholders. I believe that being flexible, genuine and open-minded to stakeholder feedback helps us make connections between groups to identify their intersecting goals and priorities.

In terms of principles, I focus on how we can all move together and collaborate as a region. I aim to promote a regional narrative and connect municipalities, regardless of their locations and sizes, with one another. This way we can identify how they can support each other, and foster intermunicipal relationships. At the end of the day, I work to create connections between communities to find potential for collaboration and build bridges.

Q: Can you share any standout experiences or insights from your time in this role that you believe are important to share with the audience? 

I am fairly new to this position, but I have gained a lot of insight from meeting other land use staff. I have been fortunate to meet people in the region through our commissioner training days, town visits, POCD meetings, regional planning commission meetings and more. I appreciate being able to see the municipal internal workings and how they translate to external project implementation. It’s fascinating to witness the progression of so many projects even in such a short period of time.

I have heard people say that local development takes a long time. However, in my role, I can really see how the small things, in between the big projects, are what really matter. I am inspired by how municipalities serve as centers of community. I enjoy getting to know the municipalities for their individual uniqueness, and I am excited about the opportunity to get to work with each of them one-on-one.

Q: Outside of your role, do you have any personal interests or hobbies that you feel connect with or influence your work at the NVCOG? 

For a few years now, I have been really into gardening. My grandmother comes from Peru, a very rural community in the Andes Mountain region, where gardening was a significant part of her life there. Fast forward to middle and high school for me, I also started getting into gardening. I would say “let’s buy some green peas seeds and see how it goes”. During the pandemic, my father and I established a formal garden, sparking my interest in agriculture, food, family, culture, and community, including aspects of food sovereignty and accessibility.

It helps me to see the value of community and the power it has to resolve conflicts and celebrate successes. Gardening’s process mirrors my nature – invested in projects and community. In my work with Thomaston on my first POCD, I want them to reap the bounty of their hard work on this effort.

Q: What message would you like to share with your fellow land use professionals and colleagues in the region? 

I hope to meet them one day, broaden my connections and keep in touch to learn where we can connect on projects. As a newer planner, I see all land use professionals and colleagues as potential mentors and I want to learn from them, the tools they have, and the knowledge they’ve acquired 

Q: What is a current planning project that you’re working on that you are excited about?

At the NVCOG the Open Space Inventory project involves identifying the level of open space protection and access in our region. As a researcher, I verify the information in each municipality’s open space database. Our goal is to publish an updated map of open space in the region, serving as a starting point for creating an Open Space Plan.

This data provides insights into the distribution of recreational spaces, agriculture, and conservation areas. It helps interested municipalities identify opportunities to increase open space in their communities. Through visits, file and map reviews, and meetings with municipal staff and conservation commissions, I gain perspective on how we can help communities make this information accessible to the public and expand its access.

Q: What has been your favorite project to work on as planner? Why?

There are so many projects that we’ve done so far, this is hard to choose. Currently I’m focused on organizing the Accessibility Lunch & Learn which will be held on April 5, 2024, from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm at the NVCOG Offices. Simultaneously, I’m on the home stretch of finishing an accessibility resource guide. I’m diving headfirst into it and gaining valuable insights that fill gaps in my knowledge. I am excited to apply these learnings to my planning strategies and outreach efforts to municipal land use staff. As a lifelong learner, delving into accessibility has been enriching and rewarding.  

Emely Ricci and Pheobe Ploof review a site plan at the NVCOG office.

PRESS RELEASE: Public Meeting to Discuss Active Transportation Plan for the Naugatuck Valley

For Immediate Release: March 1, 2024

Contact:
Desira Blanchard
Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments
203-489-0353
dblanchard@nvcogct.gov

Public Meeting to Discuss Active Transportation Plan for the Naugatuck Valley

(Waterbury, CT) – The Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments (NVCOG) will be hosting a public meeting and charrette to gather input for the development of the Naugatuck Valley Active Transportation Plan (NVATP).  NVCOG invites residents, business owners, transportation advocates, and local officials to participate in this interactive event set to take place on Tuesday, February 20, 2024, at 6 PM in Waterbury City Hall’s Veterans Memorial Hall (235 Grand Street, Waterbury, CT). This marks the first of several meetings throughout the NVCOG region.

The purpose of the Naugatuck Valley Active Transportation Plan is to create a multi-modal framework that encourages and accommodates various forms of non-motorized transportation, including walking, rolling, cycling and other active modes. Once completed, the Plan will serve as a comprehensive roadmap to help guide future infrastructure investments that improve the access, comfort and safety of pedestrians and cyclists.

The charrette is an interactive workshop that allows participants to collaborate with professionals, share ideas, and explore innovative solutions for the development of an efficient and interconnected transportation system. During the session, NVCOG staff will provide an overview of the NVATP, and participants will have the chance to actively participate and contribute their ideas, suggestions, and concerns to help shape the Plan. Pizza and refreshments will be available.

For those unable to attend in-person, a zoom option is available at https://bit.ly/47U4RJ2 for virtual participation. Individuals with limited internet access can listen to the meeting by calling +1 929 205 6099 and entering the Participant Code when prompted: 814 8576 6007.

Language assistance is available to the public at no cost. For language assistance requests contact Desira Blanchard, Communications and Community Engagement Coordinator with the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments, at dblanchard@nvcogct.gov or at 203-757-0535. Requests should be made at least 5 business days prior to the meeting.

The NVCOG has released an online survey to examine habits, preferences, and challenges to walking/rolling and cycling in the community at https://arcg.is/yKyKW. Residents of the Naugatuck Valley planning region are strongly encouraged to participate.

To learn more about the Naugatuck Valley Active Transportation Plan and stay engaged in the process, visit https://bit.ly/NVActiveTransportationPlan.                

PRESS RELEASE: Woodbury, CT Approves Trash Reduction Program for Transfer Station

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 2, 2024

Contact:
Christine O’Neill
Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments
203-489-0351
coneill@nvcogct.gov

Woodbury, CT Approves Trash Reduction Program for Transfer Station

WOODBURY, CT – Following a successful yearlong pilot funded by the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (CT DEEP), the Woodbury Board of Selectmen has voted to implement a permanent trash reduction program at their transfer station that includes separation of food scraps and unit-based pricing.  By combining these strategies, this groundbreaking initiative aims to cut waste by 50%, offering a sustainable solution to mitigate rising disposal fees and alleviate the waste capacity crisis in Connecticut.

Starting July 1, transfer station users must purchase designated waste bags from local retailers, with distinct colors for trash and food scraps. Only these bags will be accepted, although residents can dispose of food waste without a bag if they prefer. A complete list of retailers and more details on the program will be posted at https://woodburyct.org/waste.

The transfer station permit fee, currently $25, will be reduced to $0.

Bag Sizes and Pricing

The Board of Selectmen has established bag sizes and prices based on recommendations from the ad hoc Waste Advisory Committee. For trash, 8-gallon bags will cost $0.75, 13-gallon bags will be $1.00, and 33-gallon bags will be $1.65. Food scrap bags will include 4-gallon bags at $0.15 and 8-gallon bags at $0.25.

These prices are designed to cover bag manufacturing, hauling, and waste disposal costs, with no additional revenue for the Town.

According to estimates from the Waste Advisory Committee, the average household using one 33-gallon trash bag and one 8-gallon food scrap bag per week will spend approximately $99 annually. This represents significant savings compared to the $480 annual cost of contracting with a private hauler in Woodbury.

Transition from Pilot to Permanent

Woodbury residents have had the benefit of a yearlong pilot program, funded through a CT DEEP Sustainable Materials Management grant, to build the habit of using special bags and separating food waste. Throughout the pilot, contractor Waste Zero and the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments (NVCOG) engaged the community through tabling at the transfer station, hosting listening sessions, presenting to key stakeholder groups, and sharing information on social media. Building consensus and support among stakeholders was critical to passing the program.

The ad hoc Waste Advisory Committee, composed of Woodbury citizens, recommended the permanent plan after eight meetings where they delved into pilot concepts, financial modeling, and potential paths forward. Community suggestions, including offering five bag sizes, an equity program to ensure disadvantaged households have access to bags, and a switch to a rearview mirror hanging tag for the transfer station permit, were all incorporated. The recommendation was delivered to the Board Selectmen at their January 25th meeting, and the vote took place on January 29th. The Committee’s recommendation, with slight tweaks for clarity, passed unanimously.

Core Strategies of the New Program

The new program focuses on food scrap diversion and unit-based pricing. Separating organic waste into its own container enables the Town to send it to an anaerobic digestor that will transform the food scraps into renewable energy – rather than a landfill, where it will emit greenhouse gases, or a waste-to-energy plant, where the wet material causes inefficient incineration. Unit-based pricing involves shifting the cost of waste from a flat fee in taxes into a per-bag charge. Connecting how much trash a household produces to how much they pay inspires increased recycling, better consumer choices, and an overall reduction in waste at the point of generation.

Both strategies are prevalent throughout the U.S.: in New England alone, over 500 communities use some form of unit-based pricing, while 10 million households across the country have municipal food scrap collection.

“I am proud that Woodbury has been recognized as a forerunner in this area in reducing our trash,” says First Selectwoman Barbara Perkinson. “The Ad Hoc committee is to be commended for all their hard work in the development of this plan, which not only benefit the residents, but also our environment.”

“Thanks to a yearlong pilot and direct engagement with participants to figure out what works in the community,” says CT DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes, “Woodbury residents have the opportunity to reduce trash, better manage household costs, and can divert valuable food scraps right at the transfer station. I applaud the Town for its leadership and for providing an example that other municipalities can look to when considering sustainable waste management options.”

Save the Sound & NVCOG Hiring Kinneytown Dam Removal Project Community Liaisons

Are you a resident of Waterbury, Ansonia, or Seymour? Are you passionate about community organizing and outreach?
 
We’re teaming up with Save the Sound to hire various community leaders and liaisons. Learn more about the positions and how to apply at website.
 
 
¿Es usted residente de Waterbury, Ansonia, o Seymour? ¿Te apasiona la organización comunitaria y la divulgación?
 
Nos estamos asociando con Save the Sound para contratar varios líderes y enlaces comunitarios. Obtén más información sobre los puestos y cómo presentar tu candidatura en el sitio web.
 
 

NVCOG Represented at 2024 Environmental Summit in Hartford

The NVCOG was represented at the 2024 Environmental Summit in Hartford, organized by the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters Education Fund. The event convened citizen advocates, environmental leaders, lawmakers, and policy experts to discuss pressing environmental issues.

This year’s summit, a precursor to the upcoming CT General Assembly session starting on February 7, emphasized critical environmental priorities. Discussions included climate and energy solutions, nature-based solutions, PFAS, environmental rights, pesticides, vehicle emission reduction, offshore wind, and food waste prevention.

These priorities stem from the growing challenges of climate change, biodiversity protection, toxin reduction, and sustainable waste management, as highlighted by environmental leaders in Connecticut.

The NVCOG, committed to steering the region towards a greener and more resilient future, engages in a multifaceted approach. The agency advocates for informed land use policies in a variety of ways, including promoting solar energy, hosting environmental sustainability forums, addressing dam safety, municipal stormwater, waste management, and reducing vehicle miles traveled. The NVCOG remains dedicated to rectifying past environmental damage and mitigating the environmental footprint of future development growth by utilizing grant monies for critical projects and actively participating in state-level programs.

“It is exciting to know that I am currently providing meaningful work on projects that are solving Connecticut’s top environmental concerns,” says Environmental Planner, Thomas Dougherty.

PRESS RELEASE: Virtual Public Feedback Session on Draft Climate Action Plan for New Haven County Scheduled for February 6th

For Immediate Release: January 23, 2024 

Contact:    
Christine O’Neill 
Environmental Planner II 
203-489-0351 
coneill@nvcogct.gov 

(Waterbury, CT) – The Southern Central Regional Council of Governments (SCRCOG) and the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments (NVCOG) invite professionals and residents in New Haven County to participate in a public feedback session on the draft Priority Climate Action Plan (PCAP). The public feedback session is scheduled for February 6, 2024, from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm on Zoom. Participants must register at bit.ly/3u1eOXi.  

The PCAP, available for review at cprgct.org, outlines goals and recommendations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across 27 communities, including 12 towns in the Naugatuck Valley COG region: Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Cheshire, Derby, Middlebury, Naugatuck, Oxford, Prospect, Seymour, Southbury, Waterbury, and Wolcott.  

Public comments on the PCAP can either be submitted through a questionnaire accessible at https://forms.office.com/r/h0BW88ar8v, or by sending an email to smcamp@scrcog.org. The comment period closes February 8th at 11:59 p.m. More information on New Haven County’s CPRG project is available at https://www.cprgct.org/  

Winter Quarterly Newsletter

NVCOG’s winter newsletter is here! The quarterly publication has news, project updates, and events for the Region. 

Newsletter Highlights

PRESS RELEASE: New Haven County Releases Draft Priority Climate Action Plan for Public Comment

For Immediate Release: January 18, 2024 

Contact:
Christine O’Neill
Environmental Planner II
203-489-0351
coneill@nvcogct.gov

A draft Priority Climate Action Plan (PCAP) has been released for New Haven County as part of the national Climate Pollution Reduction Grant program (CPRG). The draft PCAP is accessible at https://www.cprgct.org/ and public comment will be accepted until February 8th at 11:59 p.m. 

The goal of the CPRG program is to help states, regions, and tribes plan for and implement actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is funded through the Inflation Reduction Act and administered by the U.S. EPA. 

Earlier this year, the South Central Regional Council of Governments (SCRCOG), with support from the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments (NVCOG), received one million dollars in a noncompetitive planning grant through the CPRG. Their planning area encompasses the entirely of New Haven County, which covers 27 municipalities from New Haven in the south to Waterbury in the north.  

In order to execute the first deliverable of the PCAP, SCRCOG hired UMass Amherst’s Regional Planning Studio and NARSLAB. Throughout the summer and fall, SCRCOG, NVCOG, and UMass developed the PCAP with considerable input from the community. Engagement efforts included tabling at farmers markets and a housing expo, holding hybrid meetings with interactive polling, and maintaining a dynamic website with information and resources.  

The group also released and promoted a survey to capture specific feedback from residents, which is still live and can be taken at https://umassamherst.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_4TmgsqGfnjVQEke

The draft PCAP strives to cover the foundational elements of a climate plan while incorporating perspectives from the community and centering environmental justice.  The plan includes: 

  • An inventory of greenhouse gas emissions in New Haven County by sector (transportation, buildings, electricity, industry, and waste).  
  • An examination of the low-income and disadvantaged communities within the region, including benefits to these areas as a result of climate action. 
  • A list of potential mitigation strategies, ranked for both emissions reduction potential and co-benefits such as workforce development and air pollution reduction. 
  • A communications and outreach toolkit to be implemented during the next grant deliverable: the Comprehensive Climate Action Plan. 

“The Priority Climate Action Plan is the first of three regional Climate Action Plans that will establish clear goals and recommendations on how to improve air quality across the planning region,” says Project Manager Ben Lovejoy. “The funding from this grant program has created an unprecedented opportunity to develop real solutions for how the region can address the impacts of climate change.”  

Public comment on the PCAP can either be submitted through a questionnaire accessible at https://forms.office.com/r/h0BW88ar8v, or by sending an email to smcamp@scrcog.org. The three week comment period closes February 8th at 11:59 p.m. More information on New Haven County’s CPRG project is available at https://www.cprgct.org/