Bethlehem Organic Compost Facility Plans to be Aired

Main Street Bethlehem

Original Press Release

Posted on March 8, 2021

Residents in the next 60 days will have continued opportunities to voice their comments or concerns about an organic composting facility proposed on nearly 70 acres at 331 and 351 Main St. South.

The first is at a virtual town meeting, planned for March 23, at which voters will decide whether to adopt a noise ordinance, which was drafted in part as a response to citizens’ expressing apprehension about truck and machine sounds echoing from the facility.

In addition, a hearing is scheduled for April 27 on a revised application for a town permit to operate the facility. At this hearing residents can express their views about the plans from Grillo Services, LLC of Milford, developers of the site.

Town officials said that these are part of the necessary steps toward a decision on whether this business can create on the property various forms of mulch, top soil and other soil-related materials. They are sold on the bulk, commercial and residential markets.

The company plans on receiving trees, brush, leaves and demolition items that are separated for use or discarded.

Town and state permits are required for the composting and other plans for the property. None have been granted yet for this site because reviews are still underway.

Bethlehem First Selectman Leonard Assard said that the go-ahead to a town meeting for the noise ordinance came at Tuesday’s Board of Selectmen meeting.

A recent hearing on the ordinance — the first for this small community — produced questions about its effects on residents’ everyday lives and some opposition to putting more regulations on the community.

The local measure would apply to all businesses and residents in the town. In essence, it says people risk sanctions and a possible $100 maximum fine if noise reaches beyond property boundaries in excess of 55 decibels between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., or in excess of 45 decibels between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. This also applies to motor vehicles and there are exceptions.

“This ordinance is really designed for the constant noise that’s there all day long,” Assard said trying to reassure residents concerned about incidental noise, such as early-morning lawn mowing or excessively loud parties.

In those instances, the police would ask those responsible to stop or quiet down the noise, he said. Repeat offenders, however, could be slapped with a summons. A copy of the full ordinance is available on the town’s website at ci.bethlehem.ct.us Also meeting Tuesday evening, the town’s Inlands/

Wetlands Agency approved Grillo’s revised application for the permit.

Board Chairman Robert Smith said that this application, unlike an earlier submission, addressed missing issues. It has now been referred to the town’s engineering consultant, LandTech Consultants, Inc., of Westford, Mass., for a detailed analysis.

The board expects that the analysis will be completed for the April 27 hearing and for public review.

In accepting the revised permit application, Smith said that Grillo made certain adjustments and scaled back some of the plans. The full application with reports and maps runs about 600 pages and can be found under the March 2 Inland/ Wetlands Agency agenda on the town website.

For instance, the company at first wanted to include other areas of the property for potential expansion. However, that aspect has been removed based on the panel wanting to limit this permit to just the current proposed operational site, Smith said.

“They will need to come back if they want to do any expansion and go through this process again for review,” he said. Part of the company’s plans involve creating different colored mulch and chemicals are used in that process, the chairman said.

It has now included more storm water mitigation – also known as a “rain garden” – filtering areas close to water courses and property lines. This mitigation helps to sift debris, chemical waste and other solids from water as it moves deeper into soil, Smith said.

Nearby streams and other waterways drain into East Spring Brook that empties into the Watertown Fire District’s well fields, which help provide drinking water for sections of Watertown, he said.

“We want to make sure that it doesn’t get contaminated. That’s the biggest concern, the groundwater contamination for us. Groundwater eventually becomes drinking water,” Smith said.

Southbury Will Use Planning Consultant for Now

Original Press Release

Posted on March 8, 2021

The Board of Selectmen approved a restructuring of its land-use department in an effort to stabilize planning, which, town officials say has been in transition since the retirement of longtime land-use official DeLoris Curtis two years ago.

First Selectman Jeffery A. Manville said the town will rely on a consultant from the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments to assist with planning issues on a month-tomonth basis at $2,100 per month.

Curtis, who died four months after her retirement, ran both the administrative and planning sides of the department in her job as land use administrator. Manville said replacing Curtis has been a challenge and the position has not been filled in more than a year.

The town recently named Jessica Townsend the interim land use administrator, but she will not have her planning certification for another four years. For now, Manville said, her role will mainly be administrative.

Keith Rosenfeld, a longtime planner from COG for towns like Naugatuck, Southington and Waterbury, will devote two days a week to Southbury, working on various development plans.

Manville said the town has attempted to hire a new town planner, but no qualified candidates could both administrative and planning work.

The first selectman said the town is moving toward online permitting, which should alleviate the workload in the landuse office, particularly on the building department side. Selectman Emily Harrison was concerned that the level of planning might fall off with an outside consultant to replace “such an important role,” especially with regard to the Plan of Conservation and Development.

Manville said additional assistance could be called in if needed for certain applications.

Manville said the savings to the town would be about $10,000 a year, a figure Selectman Mike Rosen wondered might not be worth it, considering all that could be lost.

But Manville said the move was just a better plan overall and not about saving money.

“We are trying to have continuity of planning over time, institutional knowledge,” Manville said. “This gives us a way to stabilize the planning side of our needs.”

Rosen said he is generally in favor of promoting from within, but is concerned about the length of time before Townsend could become involved in planning. He suggested implementing the new plan while searching for a fulltime planner.

Manville said he does not see the benefit in going back out for applicants, adding that his goal is to stabilize the planning side of the department.

Manville said COG provides all these services now to other towns, including Beacon Falls and Seymour, and having a variety of planning specialists and a relationship with COG for collaboration and assistance on other issues even after Townsend gets her certification is important.

NVCOG-Resilient CT Workshop Announced

The NVCOG and the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation (CIRCA) invite you to a Resilient CT – NVCOG Regional Workshop, coordinated by Milone and MacBroom, on January 22nd.  The Resilient Connecticut project is studying climate vulnerability to heat, wind, and flooding in Fairfield and New Haven Counties and will recommend ways to adapt communities to the stressors, and where this cannot be done, how to get people out of harm’s way. The project will also address energy, economic and social resilience, how to increase transit connectivity, and create opportunities for affordable housing – all critical elements for a resilient community.

Municipal officials, staff, commissioners, and residents are encouraged to attend the January 22 workshop to learn about and provide feedback on tools that are currently being developed to assist communities with local and regional climate change planning.  You know your community the best, so we hope you will join us to share your local knowledge to help develop effective planning tools.

 
Please register at https://s.uconn.edu/nvcogjanby January 18th.
 
Background
CIRCA, in coordination with state agencies, regional councils of governments (COGs) and municipalities, has initiated Resilient Connecticut, as part of Phase II of the HUD National Disaster Resilience Competition. Resilient Connecticut will provide the state with a regional and watershed focused Climate Adaptation Planning Framework piloted in the Superstorm Sandy impacted regions of New Haven and Fairfield Counties. The project will generate recommendations for a Statewide Resilience Roadmap that includes regional resilience and adaptation planning, policy consideration, and actionable priorities. In addition, science‐based regional risk assessments will inform municipal to regional scale initiatives and pilot projects. Resilient Connecticut’s guiding principle is to establish resilient communities through smart planning that incorporates economic development framed around resilient transit-oriented development, conservation strategies, and critical infrastructure improvements.
More Information:

NVCOG Developing Regional Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan

For Immediate Release: October 26, 2020

Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments Seeking Input on Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan

Virtual Workshop Scheduled for November 18

 

The Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments (NVCOG) recently received a Pre-disaster Hazard Mitigation Planning grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to prepare a regional, multi-jurisdiction Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP) that will update plans in all 19 municipalities in its planning region. The project team will hold virtual public workshops where attendees can learn about hazard mitigation planning, possible risks they face from a natural hazard, and speak directly with the consultants developing the HMP update. The study team also wants to hear from residents about their concerns and opinions. The first public workshop is scheduled for November 18, 2020 at 5:30 PM.

A Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP) is a tool that helps a community to understand risk and to take specific steps to reduce property damage, injury, and loss of life from natural disasters, such as Tropical Storm Isaias. The November 18 workshop will provide details on the hazards being addressed in the plan, the risks they pose, and the types of losses that can occur to life and property in the Naugatuck Valley region. Details of how to participate in the workshop are available at www.nvcogct.gov/HMP.

Public engagement is critical to the planning process, and a short online survey is also available for members of the public to provide information to project staff. The survey should take less than 10 minutes to complete and can be found on the project webpage. While the ongoing pandemic will limit typical public engagement forums, such as public meetings and in-person workshops, the webpage, survey and workshop provide key opportunities for residents to learn about the project and provide feedback.

A FEMA-approved Hazard Mitigation Plan is required for a municipality to be eligible for certain hazard mitigation grant funding. An approved HMP is not required, however, for a community to be eligible for relief funding after an event has occurred. The HMP helps public officials and residents understand vulnerabilities and will identify actions that communities can take to prevent or minimize future risk.

NVCOG and project consultant Milone & MacBroom, Inc. of Cheshire will be working with all 19 regional municipalities over the next year to develop the multi-jurisdictional HMP. Developing a multi-jurisdictional plan is a more cost-effective approach than each community creating its own HMP. However, understanding that each community is unique and has its own specific risks, hazards specific to each municipality will be addressed in separate municipal sections in the regional plan. The plan will take recent major events into account and will investigate risks from floods, winter storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, and dam failure, among others. The HMP will also identify activities that can be undertaken by each community to prevent loss of life and reduce property damages associated with the identified hazards. Public safety and property loss reduction are the driving forces behind this plan, but careful consideration will also be given to the preservation of history, culture and the natural environment of the region.

Future virtual public meetings will focus on specific communities in the region. Stay tuned for dates and times!

Please visit www.nvcogct.gov/HMP for more details.

Contacts:
Aaron Budris
Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments
203-757-0535
abudris@nvcogct.org

NVCOG and NRG Steering Committee Endorse NRG Trail Routing Feasibility Study Report

The report detailing methods and findings of the Naugatuck River Greenway (NRG) Trail Thomaston to Torrington Routing and Feasibility Study was endorsed unanimously by the NVCOG Board at its regular meeting on May 8th.  The report was also endorsed by the NRG Steering Committee (NRGSC) on May 13thThe final report and appendices can be reviewed on the project web page:  https://nvcogct.gov/nrg-thomaston-to-torrington-routing-study  

The project study area detailed in the report spans approximately 11 miles of the Naugatuck Valley from Bogue Road in Torrington to a section of trail under design adjacent to the Water Pollution Control facility on Old Waterbury Road in Thomaston.  The goals of the high level planning project, conducted by BSC Group of Glastonbury, CT, were to catalog existing conditions in the project corridor, inventory and assess all potential multi-use trail routes, identify a preferred route with input from stakeholders and the public, and develop conceptual designs, cost estimates and phasing recommendations to assist with future trail development. The intent of the project was to provide decision-makers with the information they would need to seek funding for the design and construction of NRG trail projects.

A Draft Report was published on the NVCOG website for a 30-day public comment period ending on March 13th Nearly 400 public comments were received, most of which were from self-identified off-highway-vehicle (OHV) riders and were focused on fears that the study represented efforts to eliminate or disrupt use of the OHV area at Thomaston Dam.  Responses to comments are detailed in Appendix H of the final draft report  NVCOG staff presented the comments and the project team’s responses to them at both the NVCOG and NRGSC meetings prior to endorsement.  

Concerns regarding potential impact to the OffHighway Vehicle (OHV) area at the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) managed Thomaston Dam were well represented in an earlier round of public comments as well.  Iresponse, the project team met several times with USACE staff and OHV representatives to address those issues. These additional meetings and the Study Team’s responses to their concerns are detailed in the report.  A route was developed that avoids the OHV area to the greatest extent possible. For a 2-mile corridor section where there was no viable alternative, a trail concept along Old Route 8 on USACE land where OHVs are currently permitted (but do not have exclusive use) was developed.  The concept presented in the report was developed collaboratively with the USACE and OHV representatives to safely separate motorized and non-motorized uses without negative impact to current OHV traffic flow.  It provides for the safe use of the Thomaston Dam Recreation Area by all currently permitted user groups while providing a critical connection for the NRG trail.  It is noted that if a trail were to be developed, managed or maintained through the Thomaston Dam area it would be the responsibility of the USACE either directly or through future agreements with outside groups. 

Stakeholders were involved throughout the project including chief elected officials and staff from the municipalities of Torrington, Litchfield, Harwinton and Thomaston along with representatives from the US Army Corps of Engineers, NVCOG, NHCOG, the Naugatuck River Greenway Steering Committee, The Railroad Museum of New England, and several property owners along the route.  The preferred route presented in the report was selected by a project steering committee consisting of officials from the involved municipalities and other stakeholders.    

NVCOG, in partnership with the Northwest Hills Council of Governments (NHCOG), received a Transit Oriented Development and Smart Growth grant from the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management (OPM) to conduct the study. The NVCOG and NHCOG oversaw the project.   

Final Draft of the Naugatuck River Greenway Trail Routing Feasibility Study Report Posted

The final draft of the report detailing  methods and findings of the Naugatuck River Greenway (NRG) Trail Thomaston to Torrington Routing and Feasibility Study has been published on the NVCOG websiteThe report and appendices can be reviewed on the project web page:  https://nvcogct.gov/nrg-thomaston-to-torrington-routing-study  

 

The project area detailed in the report spans approximately 11 miles of the Naugatuck Valley from Bogue Road in Torrington to a section of trail under design adjacent to the Water Pollution Control facility on Old Waterbury Road in Thomaston.  The goals of the high level planning project, conducted by BSC Group of Glastonbury, CT, were to catalogue existing conditions in the project corridor, inventory and assess all potential multiuse trail routes, identify a preferred route with input from stakeholders and the public, and develop conceptual designs, cost estimates and phasing recommendations to assist with future trail development. The intent of the project was to determine the opportunities for constructing the NRG Trail, identify the strengths and constraints of each possible route, and provide decision-makers with the information they would need when deciding whether or not to advance a section of the trail 

 

A Draft Report was published on the NVCOG website for a 30-day public comment period ending on March 13th Nearly 400 public comments were received, most of which were from self-identified off-highway-vehicle (OHV) riders and were focused on fears that the study represented efforts to eliminate or disrupt use of the OHV area at Thomaston Dam.  Responses to comments are detailed in Appendix H of the final draft report  

 

Concerns regarding potential impact to the OffHighway Vehicle (OHV) area at the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) managed Thomaston Dam were well represented in an earlier round of public comments as well.  Iresponse, the project team met several times with USACE staff and OHV representatives to address those issues. These additional meetings and the Study Team’s responses to their concerns are detailed in the report.  A route was developed that avoids the OHV area to the greatest extent possible. For a 2-mile corridor section where there was no viable alternative, a trail concept along Old Route 8 on USACE land where OHVs are currently permitted (but do not have exclusive use) was developed.  The concept presented in the report was developed collaboratively with the USACE and OHV representatives to safely separate motorized and non-motorized uses without negative impact to current OHV traffic flow.  It provides for the safe use of the Thomaston Dam Recreation Area by all currently permitted user groups while providing a critical connection for the NRG trail.  It is noted that if a trail were to be developed, managed or maintained through the Thomaston Dam area it would be the responsibility of the USACE either directly or through future agreements with outside groups. 

 

Stakeholders were involved throughout the project including chief elected officials and staff from the municipalities of Torrington, Litchfield, Harwinton and Thomaston along with representatives from the US Army Corps of Engineers, NVCOG, NHCOG, the Naugatuck River Greenway Steering Committee, The Railroad Museum of New England, and several property owners along the route.  The preferred route presented in the report was selected by a project steering committee consisting of officials from the involved municipalities and other stakeholders.    

 

NVCOG, in partnership with the Northwest Hills Council of Governments (NHCOG), received a Transit Oriented Development and Smart Growth grant from the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management (OPM) to conduct the study. The NVCOG and NHCOG oversaw the project.   

POSTPONED -Household Hazardous Waste Collection

April 4 Household Hazardous Waste and Paint Collection Postponed

The Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments (NVCOG) has postponed its Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) and Paint Collection Day that was scheduled to take place on Saturday, April 4 in Naugatuck, CT due to the developing COVID-19 crisis.

NVCOG HHW events serve the towns of Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Bethlehem, Cheshire, Derby, Middlebury, Naugatuck, Oxford, Prospect, Seymour, Southbury, Thomaston, Waterbury, Watertown, Wolcott and Woodbury. The next event currently scheduled will take place at Crosby High School in Waterbury on July 18, 2020.  

For future updates, please visit NVCOG’s HHW webpage: https://nvcogct.gov/what-we-do/municipal-shared-services/household-hazardous-waste/ as well as postings on social media channels and on local, municipal websites. Information on how to properly dispose of common household items is also featured on the NVCOG HHW webpage.

Household hazardous wastes are any wastes produced in the home that are poisonous, flammable, reactive, or corrosive. These wastes are harmful to human health and the environment if not disposed of properly. The goal of the program is to keep potentially hazardous waste out of local landfills and sewers, providing extra protection for wetlands and waterways. In addition, residents may now bring latex (water-based) paint to the collection event.  While not considered hazardous waste, the latex paint is also accepted as part of the statewide paint product stewardship program.

 

–END–

 

Seymour Land Use Workshop: POSTPONED

The land use workshop scheduled for March 26 with the Town of Seymour and NVCOG has been postponed until October. Stay tuned to find out the latest developments.

 

NVCOG CEOs Support Rail Line Legislation

NVCOG Mayors and First Selectman visited the State Capitol complex today in support of proposed legislation to improve rail service on the Waterbury Branch Line. A public hearing was held on Senate Bill 155, which would serve as the ‘vehicle’ legislation for the proposed upgrades.

Watch News 8’s video coverage here.

From left to right: Derby Mayor Richard Dziekan, State Sen. George Logan, R-17, Seymour First Selectman Kurt Miller, Ansonia Mayor David Cassetti, Naugatuck Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess, State Rep. Kara Rochelle, D-104, Speaker of the House of Representatives Joe Aresimowicz, Beacon Falls First Selectman Gerard Smith, Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary, State Rep. Larry Butler, D- 72, State Rep. Rosa Rebimbas, R-70, State Rep. Geraldo Reyes, D-75.


Municipal leaders and area state legislators, led by NVCOG Chairman, Waterbury Mayor Neil M. O’Leary addressed the media this morning prior to the Connecticut General Assembly’s Transportation Committee’s public hearing.


Testifying before the General Assembly’s Transportation Committee, left to right, State Rep. Rosa, Rebimbas, R-70, Naugatuck Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess and Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary. Also, in the second row, second from left, Thomaston First Selectman Ed Mone and, fourth from left, Derby Mayor Richard Dziekan.

 

 

 

 

Study Underway to Investigate Alternative Transportation Opportunities along Route 67 in Oxford

News Release

The Oxford Main Street Study is underway to investigate the potential for bicycle, pedestrian and transit improvements along Route 67 in Oxford. The study is being funded by the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments (NVCOG) with federal transportation planning funds and is being conducted by TranSystems Corporation, a planning and engineering consultant with offices in Meriden, CT. It is being overseen by the Oxford Main Street Committee that was formed in 2017.

Unlike many of its neighbors, Oxford does not have a typical walkable New England downtown or Main Street. Instead, municipal and commercial areas are dispersed along with residences along State Route 67. Although Route 67 is fundamentally Oxford’s “Main Street,” it currently has no sidewalks or any safe bicycle or pedestrian access, and traffic speeds are excessive with no visual cues to alert motorists that they are driving through an area where they may encounter walkers or bicyclists. In addition, no public transit is operated along Route 67 that could provide residents an alternative transportation option. Transit options by train on Metro North and by bus on CT Transit are available only one mile from the Oxford town line, but there is currently no way for Oxford residents to safely access these services without a personal motor vehicle.

The Town has prioritized creating more of a downtown aesthetic along Route 67, and the Oxford Main Street Committee has been investigating streetscape improvements, sidewalks and trails within the corridor to improve non-motorized access. The study will build on the committee’s prior work to develop a cohesive plan for the entire corridor to better enable the Town to plan, prioritize, and fund future improvements.

TranSystems will be using existing data and data collected during the study to assess the potential to develop pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure along Route 67. The focus of these potential improvements will be to improve connections and transportation options to the Seymour sidewalk network, train station and Naugatuck River Greenway Trail to the south, and the Larkin Bridle Trail to the north, as well as to all of the businesses, services, green spaces, and residential areas within the corridor. The potential for transit service in the corridor will also be studied, focusing on connections to services and major residential and commercial centers and to surrounding communities.

The Oxford Main Street Study kicked off in December, and is expected to take 18 months to complete. There will be numerous opportunities for residents and businesses to provide input to the study. The study team will be holding two public information meetings to present findings and solicit input. You can also expect to see the team staffing information booths at public events in town.

Oxford First Selectman George Temple said “We are very enthusiastic about the Oxford Main St. Project. I want to thank the Oxford Main St. Committee for their vision and hard work that made this project a reality. I believe it will enhance the charm of Oxford and provide a transformation and charm to our beautiful town. I am grateful for the dedication of the NVCOG staff and of course to my fellow selectmen and mayors of NVCOG for their generous support.”

“This project is something the residents of Oxford have said they want and because of this Oxford Main Street Study we will have the guidelines to make it happen” said Kathleen O’Neil, Oxford Grant Administrator and Chair of the Oxford Main Street Committee. “This study will be instrumental in providing the most aesthetically pleasing and beneficial plan for walkways and linear parks along Route 67.”

TranSystems Project Manager Casey Hardin said that, “This is a tremendous opportunity to build off of the excellent work that the Oxford Main Street Committee has completed over the last several years. We are aiming to create a multimodal master plan to the corridor that can encourage sustainable transportation and growth in the Town for years to come.”

Meeting dates, documents and information will be posted to the study webpage at: https://nvcogct.gov/project/current-projects/transportation-planning-studies/oxford-main-street-study/