Regional Brownfields Partnership Newsletter Summer 2024

Quarterly Updates

The NVCOG published the summer edition of the Regional Brownfields Partnership of West Central CT newsletter. Read about the team’s insights on active brownfield projects and funding opportunities.

Highlights:

  • $4M EPA Funding Secured for Brownfields Clean Up & Revitalization
  • Staff Presents at 2024 Revitalizing New England: Brownfields Summit
  • Project Updates in Torrington & Shelton

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Subscribe to the RBP newsletter to receive quarterly updates.

PRESS RELEASE: Household Hazardous Waste and Paint Collection Scheduled for Saturday, July 27 in Wolcott

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 21, 2024

Contact:
NVCOG
(203) 757-0535
https://nvcogct.gov/HHW

Household Hazardous Waste and Paint Collection Scheduled for Saturday, July 27 in Wolcott

Do you have paints, cleaners, and other chemicals in your home that you need to dispose of? The Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments (NVCOG) and participating municipalities will sponsor a Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) and Paint Collection event on Saturday, July 27, 2024. The collection will take place from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Wolcott Public Works facility, located at 48 Todd Road, Wolcott, CT 06716.

The collection is open to residents of the following communities: Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Bethlehem, Derby, Middlebury, Naugatuck, Oxford, Prospect, Seymour, Southbury, Thomaston, Waterbury, Watertown, Wolcott, and Woodbury. There is no charge to residents. Proof of residency, such as a driver’s license, tax bill, or other identification, is required for entry. There is no need to line up before the 8 a.m. start time.

Hazardous waste consists of poisonous, flammable, and corrosive materials that are harmful to human health if not disposed of properly. The only waste that will be accepted is hazardous waste produced by households. Materials generated by a commercial enterprise or non-profit entity will not be accepted. A full list of acceptable and unacceptable materials can be viewed at nvcogct.gov/hhw.

Examples of wastes that will be accepted include: oil- and latex-based paints and stains, thermometers and thermostats containing mercury, drain and oven cleaners, upholstery cleaners, wood cleaners, strippers and varnishes, pesticides, poisons, pool and photo chemicals, automotive cleaners and fluids, gasoline and motor oil, grease and rust solvents, aerosols, and metal polishes.

Items that will not be accepted include: auto batteries, propane tanks over 1 lb., compressed gas cylinders, asbestos, smoke detectors, explosives, radioactive or medical waste, grout, joint compound, lead paint chips, and empty containers of any kind. Aerosol containers will not be accepted unless they contain a non-paint chemical. Empty aerosols that contain food products can be recycled. Full or partially full spray paint, full or partially full food products, and empty chemical aerosol containers can be placed in the trash. The contractor reserves the right to reject additional materials.

Up to 50 lbs. of residential waste will be accepted per vehicle. Residents should leave materials in the original container whenever possible. When arriving at the collection site, residents must remain in their cars at all times. Trained waste handlers will remove materials from the cars.

Unacceptable materials will be returned or left in the vehicle and information, if known, will be provided on how to dispose of them. For further information, please contact hhw@nvcogct.gov or call (203) 757-0535.

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PRESS RELEASE: Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments Awarded $270,326 Grant for Kinneytown Section of Naugatuck River Greenway

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 10, 2024

Contact:
Desira Blanchard
Communications & Community Engagement Coordinator
Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments
203-489-0353
dblanchard@nvcogct.gov

Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments Awarded $270,326 Grant for Kinneytown Section of Naugatuck River Greenway

(Waterbury, CT) – On June 3rd, Governor Lamont announced that the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments (NVCOG) is one of forty-five entities selected to receive a Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) 2024 Recreational Trails Program grant. NVCOG will receive $270,326 for planning, preliminary design, and public outreach related to the development of a 2.5-mile ADA-accessible multi-use trail in Ansonia and Seymour.

This project will investigate and begin design of a trail on property associated with Kinneytown Dam, between North 4th Street in Ansonia and Derby Avenue in Seymour. The project will also investigate connections to existing or designed sections of the Naugatuck River Greenway (NRG) Trail in those two communities. The trail will eventually connect to the larger 44-mile NRG Trail, increasing public access to the Naugatuck River, presenting a non-motorized transportation alternative, and offering recreation opportunities for residents of the adjacent historically underserved communities.

This funding will supplement substantial federal and state funding received by NVCOG for the Kinneytown Dam Removal Project and will enhance the restoration of the Naugatuck River post-dam removal. With Kinneytown Dam slated for removal, this project will allow for the planning and design of a section of the NRG Trail to proceed in concert with the dam removal design work, with public outreach and input opportunities being incorporated into those of the larger project. This will ensure the river restoration and recreational additions, like the proposed trail, meet the needs and preferences of the community.

“We are excited about the development of the Kinneytown section of the Naugatuck River Greenway Trail,” said Mayor David Cassetti of Ansonia. “This trail is a significant step forward for Ansonia and the entire Naugatuck Valley.”

“This trail will enhance the connection between our communities and allow our residents to share and experience nature, increase visibility, and make our communities more walkable and inviting,” said First Selectwoman Annmarie Drugonis of Seymour.

Last year, NVCOG received a $15,000,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and additional funding from the CT DEEP to decommission and remove the non-operational Kinneytown Dam hydroelectric facility and restore fish passage on the Naugatuck River. For more information about the Kinneytown Dam Removal Project, and to stay engaged in the process, please visit the project page at: www.nvcogct.gov/kinneytown.

Aerial image above the Naugatuck River and Kinneytown Dam.

NVCOG Welcomes Sustainability CT Fellow

The Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments (NVCOG) is excited to welcome this summer’s Sustainable CT Fellow, Jacob Bartel.  

Each summer, a fellow is placed with Councils of Governments (COGs) to assist municipalities in achieving Sustainable CT certification and to support the COGs with sustainable actions and projects.

Sustainable CT is a voluntary certification program that partners with Connecticut COGs to facilitate regional planning of sustainability initiatives, communicate and track progress, and to provide towns with overarching frameworks for sustainability goals.

Meet Jacob Bartel

Jacob Bartel is from San Diego, California and a rising senior at Sacred Heart University here in Connecticut.

Jacob is working on town outreach at NVCOG and is looking forward to working with planners to learn more about city planning.

Jacob, a San Diego resident, is equally enthusiastic to learn more about his new home in Connecticut through his work with the region’s communities. 

Outside of the office, he is a member of the Division I Fencing Team at Sacred Heart, and is an avid disc golfer and hiker.

Contact Information

If you have any questions about achieving Sustainable CT certification or need support with sustainability actions, please contact Jacob Bartel at 203-489-0368 or email jbartel@nvcogct.gov. 

PRESS RELEASE: Public Meeting to Discuss City of Waterbury Residential Traffic Calming Study

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 3, 2024

Contact:
Richard Donovan
Transportation Planning Director
Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments
203-757-0535
rdonovan@nvcogct.gov

Public Meeting to Discuss City of Waterbury Residential Traffic Calming Study

(Waterbury, CT) – The Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments (NVCOG) will be hosting a public meeting and charrette activity to gather public input for the development of the Waterbury Residential Traffic Calming Study. The NVCOG invites Waterbury residents, business owners, transportation advocates, and local officials to participate in this event set to take place on Monday, June 17, 2024, 6:00 PM at Silas Bronson Library (267 Grand Street, Waterbury, CT). This marks the first of several meetings throughout the City of Waterbury.

As the NVCOG works to achieve its goal of zero deaths and serious injuries from traffic crashes by 2060, the agency is developing a sample policy and guidebook outlining how Waterbury may best address road safety concerns and respond to resident requests. Following its completion, the city will consider ways to best implement the study’s recommendations.

The goal of the public meeting is to solicit public input regarding perceived speed issue locations, preferred traffic calming interventions, and ideal public request processes. The charrette is an interactive activity that allows participants to collaborate with professionals, share ideas, and explore innovative solutions. During the meeting, NVCOG staff will provide a brief overview of the study, and participants will have the chance to actively contribute their ideas, suggestions, and concerns.

To learn more about the study and to stay engaged in the process visit the NVCOG project page at https://nvcogct.gov/project/wtby-tcs/.

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.

Helpful Resources:

PRESS RELEASE: Community Walk Audit to Be Held for Woodbury Route 6 Corridor Study

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 31, 2024

Contact:
Richard Donovan
Transportation Planning Director
Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments
203-757-0535
Rdonovan@nvcogct.gov

Community Walk Audit to Be Held for Woodbury Route 6 Corridor Study 

(Waterbury, CT) – The Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments (NVCOG) will hold a community walk audit on Tuesday, June 4, 2024, from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM as part of the Woodbury Route 6 Corridor Study. The 1-mile walk will begin at Woodbury Town Hall located at 281 Main Street South, Woodbury, CT 06798. The rain date is scheduled for Wednesday, June 5, 2024. 

The NVCOG is currently working with the Town of Woodbury, Connecticut Department of Transportation, (CTDOT), and AECOM on the Woodbury Route 6 Corridor Study. The Project Team is focused on developing actionable concepts to improve safety, particularly for pedestrians and cyclists, while supporting economic development and preservation of the Town’s historic assets. 

This event is open to all. Please bring comfortable shoes, water, and appropriate sun protection and clothing. This walk will provide an opportunity to identify the existing issues and the historic assets in Woodbury Center while sharing ideas on how to improve the area. The public is encouraged to provide feedback on enhancing Woodbury’s central corridor. 

To stay engaged in the process, please visit the project page at nvcogct.gov/project/woodbury-route-6-corridor-study/

Sustainability Spotlight: Backyard Farming

This article contains sustainability considerations as municipalities navigate regulation of backyard farms as an accessory residential use. 

Chickens at Pillwillop Therapeutic Farm in Wolcott, CT. Photo credit: Christine O’Neill

Small-scale, backyard farming can provide residents with fresh, healthy food, supplemental income, or an enriching hobby. Connecticut’s Right to Farm Law (CGS § 19a-341) has been in place since the 1980s, protecting farms from certain nuisance-based lawsuits and in some cases preempting local zoning. Municipalities may struggle with striking a balance between allowing small-scale livestock farming on residential properties and neighbor concerns related to odor, noise, and runoff. Below are some sustainability considerations as towns navigate regulation of backyard farms containing animals. 

Space, Acreage, and Setbacks. It is not uncommon for zoning regulations to limit where livestock can be kept by imposing space limitations, such as a minimum lot size or liberal setbacks. While strict limitations make sense for multiacre farms, a one-size-fits-all approach may result in overly restrictive regulations that discourage backyard farming. Carefully crafted regulations for specific animals – like Ansonia’s regulations for fancy pigeons – prevent unintentional pigeonholing of all livestock into the same category. 

Managing Nuisances. Animal husbandry may create nuisances that impact other property owners, such as noise, odors, or runoff. Some of these nuisances are beyond the reach of municipal land use – for instance, per CT’s Inland Wetlands & Watercourses Act (CGS § 22a-40), most farming activities are permitted as-of-right in wetlands (though this does not mean no restrictions apply – see this CT DEEP resource for more details). Municipalities should consider setting reasonable standards for storage of manure (x feet from property lines), provisions for drainage (maximum allowable grade), or requiring that animals be fenced.  

Animal Welfare. Just as zoning provides for the public safety and wellbeing of humans, regulations should also maximize animal welfare. As an example, allowing multiple horses to live on a half-acre property could lead to inhumane conditions. A best practice to ensure adequate enclosure- and lot-sizes is to designate a number of square feet/acres per animal. For instance, Bristol’s regulations for 5.4.13 Keeping of Livestock state, “A minimum lot area of 2 acres shall be required for the first animal being kept and 1/3rd acre for each additional animal.” Plymouth also uses a very unique formula with “bird units” in Section K.1.iii that is worth emulating. 

Farm Stands. Allowing the sale of agricultural products, like eggs or honey, by right on residential properties empowers small-scale farmers to earn income. If municipalities are concerned about the operation becoming too commercial for a residential area, a requirement that only products created on the property are allowed for sale can act as a reasonable limitation. Municipalities may consider providing a one-pager with regulations for farmstands to interested resident.

Outreach & Education. Unfortunately, many residents only find out about zoning restrictions after they have already erected a coop or welcomed animals into their family. Widely publicize your regulations and ordinances related to backyard farming or distribute the information to community groups such as 4H clubs or school districts. 

Small-scale farming on residential lots makes our communities more vibrant and sustainable. We can minimize the negative consequences by crafting thoughtful regulations that fit the needs of each community. 

Further reading: 

Contact Us

The “Sustainability Spotlight” provides readers with ideas on how to incorporate sustainability into your land use regulations. Questions? Contact Christine O’Neill.

PRESS RELEASE: NVCOG To Receive $4.0 Million from EPA to Accelerate Brownfields Cleanup and Revitalization in Connecticut

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 29, 2024  

Contact:   
Ricardo Rodriguez
Brownfields Program Coordinator
Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments   
203-982-0797 
Rrodriguez@nvcogct.gov

NVCOG To Receive $4.0 Million from EPA to Accelerate Brownfields Cleanup and Revitalization in Connecticut

(Waterbury, CT) – The Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments (NVCOG) will receive a total of $4.0 million from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Brownfields Program to expedite the assessment and cleanup of brownfield sites throughout the region and state. This significant boost will accelerate efforts to transform underutilized and contaminated properties into productive community assets.

EPA selected NVCOG to receive a grant totaling $500,000 in competitive EPA Brownfields funding through the Multipurpose, Assessment, and Cleanup (MAC) Grant program. The grant will be used to characterize contamination at five sites in Ansonia, Derby, and Waterbury. Assessment activities will guide necessary remedial actions to facilitate the creation of multiple planned mixed-use developments.

In addition, the EPA announced $3,500,000 in non-competitive supplemental funding for NVCOG’s successful Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) Program to offer additional sub grants and low-interest loans to members throughout the 25-municipality Regional Brownfields Partnership of West Central Connecticut (RBP). The RBP is geographically diverse, representing a collection of historic downtowns, neighborhood centers, and surrounding suburban and rural communities extending north to south from Winsted to Shelton and west to east from Newtown to Berlin.

“This funding from the EPA is a significant investment in the future of our region,” said Rick Dunne, Executive Director of NVCOG. “We are grateful for the support of the EPA and our Federal Delegation in our ongoing efforts to revitalize brownfield sites and transform them into vibrant, sustainable spaces for our communities.”

“We are thrilled to continue this important work. Through the cleanup and reimagining of brownfield sites, we can ignite opportunities for economic development, foster job creation, and enhance current environmental conditions,” said Ricardo Rodriguez, Brownfields Program Coordinator of NVCOG.

These investments will augment more than $13,000,000 in funds previously awarded to NVCOG, which have been disbursed as loans or sub grants among 27 completed or in-progress cleanup projects.

LINKS 

People Behind the Plans: Teresa Gallagher, Shelton’s Natural Resource Manager

Teresa Gallagher, Shelton’s Natural Resource Manager, shares her journey into conservation and offers advice for municipalities aiming to deepen their conservation efforts. Read on to learn about her impactful work! 

Eklund Garden at Shelton Lakes. Photo credit: Teresa Gallagher

A Conversation with Teresa Gallagher

Q: How did you get into conservation work?

I was ‘born’ into the work. When I was a child, I had this plastic pool that I would make miniature ecosystems in there. I would have the water ecosystem, a desert right after, and then a forest on the other side. I remember calling them ‘ecosystems’ when I showed my parents. How many people can say they knew what an ‘ecosystem’ was when they were a child?  

I later graduated with a bachelor’s in geology and geophysics and worked for an engineering firm. I then went for my master’s in environmental science and found a job in regulatory compliance for factories. While I learned a lot, I did not feel a sense of accomplishment from the work I was doing. I had previously been a member of the Shelton Conservation Commission, so when I heard they were looking to hire a staff person, I applied. While here, I have seen the impact of the work I am doing; I am outside and doing what I really want to do. 

Q: What role do you play as the Natural Resource Manager in Shelton? How do you support the city, its Commission, and broader community? 

My role as a manager is varied. I am a liaison for board and commission communications in Shelton. I organize and attend department commission and committee meetings and assist in creating events. 

I use the broad knowledge I have built throughout my career to support the management of Shelton’s open space in its flora and fauna to fulfill the needs of the subcommittees. And conveying need-to-know information to the public for their safety around wildlife. 

I also manage the social media pages on Facebook and the blogs for the committees. I update the blog posts with news, events, and important information regarding changes or to highlight a story about the work the committee is doing. The community is a large part of the volunteer work we have for our organizations. 

Q: What commissions or committees does your department support? 

For the Conservation Commission, I support them as a liaison with the other boards and commissions, like the Planning and Zoning Commission.  

For the Trails Committee I help keep the trails clear for use for the season. I conduct trail routing for new recreation trails on newly acquired parcels. This work is incredibly involved especially when considering drainage, topography, landmarks, difficulty level, activity type, and if the land abuts another with an existing trail network. 

For the Garden Committee, I assist with ensuring people are acclimated to care for their plot. With the Anti-Litter Committee, I assist with organizing the annual Shelton Clean Sweep by creating badges for participants and procuring the materials for registered clean-ups. 

Q: What types of activities and events does your department support?

The department supports one commission and three committees. For example, the Trails Committee hosts a variety of hiking events like the annual Trails Hiking Challenge, volunteer-based work parties for trail maintenance, and guided hikes.  

The Anti-litter Committee hosts their Shelton Clean Sweep that picks up litter across Shelton to raise awareness of keeping the outdoors clean. It gathers residents, corporations in town, and community groups. Providing as much information on the registration process and areas to clean is crucial to ensure there is not an overlap between groups.  

There is a balance for open space for people of different interests and abilities. We have accessible recreation paths, mountain biking trails, hiking, walking, conservation, and preservation spaces. It is about, ‘How can we benefit the most amount of people and the wildlife?’ 

Q: What advice do you have for other municipalities looking to engage deeper with conservation work?

Make sure your Conservation Commission is administered separately from your Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission, so that projects not related to wetland regulatory issues can be prioritized. Create a working Trails Committee to construct and maintain hiking trails on municipal properties, and make sure they have the tools to do their work. It makes a significant difference in the quality of work they do when they have the municipality’s support behind their projects. 

Volunteers must have a real sense of ownership in the work they do. Volunteers and staff in Shelton have a deep sense of pride in the town and the benefits they offer through their positions on the committees. It is important to foster and encourage the volunteer spirit to keep committees moving forward as models for residents to take pride in and care for the open space in Shelton. 

Contact Us

The “People Behind the Plans” spotlight features dedicated planners, land use staff, and administrators shaping the region. Are you interested in being interviewed? Would you like to nominate a colleague? Contact Savannah-Nicole (SN) Villalba.