Connecticut Seal

Substitute Senate Bill No. 1018

Public Act No. 03-263

AN ACT CONCERNING THE PROTECTION OF LONG ISLAND SOUND.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Subsection (h) of section 16-50j of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(h) Prior to commencing any hearing pursuant to section 16-50m, the council shall consult with and solicit written comments from the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Public Health, the Council on Environmental Quality, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Public Utility Control, the Office of Policy and Management, the Department of Economic and Community Development and the Department of Transportation. In addition, the Department of Environmental Protection shall have the continuing responsibility to investigate and report to the council on all applications which prior to October 1, 1973, were within the jurisdiction of said Department of Environmental Protection with respect to the granting of a permit. Copies of such comments shall be made available to all parties prior to the commencement of the hearing. Subsequent to the commencement of the hearing, said departments, council and commissions may file additional written comments with the council within such period of time as the council designates. All such written comments shall be made part of the record provided by section 16-50o. Said departments, council and commissions shall not enter any contract or agreement with any party to the proceedings or hearings described in this section or section 16-50p, as amended by this act, that requires said department, council or commission to withhold or retract comments, refrain from participating in or withdraw from said proceedings or hearings.

Sec. 2. Section 26-194 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(a) The Commissioner of Agriculture may lease in the name of the state, under such regulations as he may prescribe and for a period not longer than ten years, all shellfish areas that have been conveyed to the state or placed under state jurisdiction by the town of West Haven and any undesignated grounds, within the exclusive jurisdiction of the state, for the purpose of planting and cultivating shellfish. The authority herein conferred shall include the Cormell Reef, Portchester, Great Captain's Island, Field Point and Greenwich Point natural beds as located and described in section 3295 of the general statutes, revision of 1918. Any person desiring to lease grounds for such purpose shall make application in writing to the commissioner and all grounds leased by authority of the provisions of this section shall be leased to the highest responsible bidder, for a minimum fee of two dollars per acre. Such lease or lease renewal shall require the lessee to make a good faith effort to cultivate and harvest shellfish from the leased area. Such lease or lease renewal shall prohibit the lessee from entering a contract whereby the lessee agrees not to cultivate and harvest shellfish for any period of time. No lessee may enter an agreement with a third party that will prevent the lessee from carrying out the lessee's obligations under the lease unless the Department of Agriculture and the Attorney General have approved such agreement. The form of such application and lease shall be approved by the Attorney General, and all such leases shall be recorded in the records of the commissioner. No lease shall be granted to a resident of a state which does not lease shellfish grounds to residents of this state, except that any nonresident who was granted a lease on or before October 1, 1985, may, upon the expiration of such lease, apply for a renewal or further lease as provided in this section. The commissioner shall grant any such lease to nonresidents upon the same terms and conditions as to residents of this state. Any lessee or holder of oyster ground, on the expiration of any lease thereof which has been or which may be granted, shall, upon application to the commissioner, have the preference in the reletting of such ground for a like term to that granted in the original lease, unless such applicant, at the time for granting such application, is in arrears for rent on the original lease of such ground. Such application for such renewal or further lease shall be granted without notice or advertisement of the pendency thereof; provided no renewal or further lease of such ground shall be granted when the commissioner, for cause, ceases to lease such ground for oyster culture. All assignments or transfers of leases shall be subject to the approval of the commissioner and shall be recorded in his records. Any person who interferes with, annoys or molests another in the enjoyment of any lease authorized by the provisions of this section shall be subject to the penalties provided in section 26-237. The provisions of sections 26-212, 26-215 and 26-232 shall not apply to any shellfish grounds leased pursuant to the provisions of this section.

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, any owner of a utility line or public use structure that impacts on a leased area shall pay to the lessee the costs of removing or relocating any shellfish. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prohibit the state or any lessee from recovering damages incurred by the state or the lessee caused by the installation, construction or presence of such utility line or public use structure.

[(b)] (c) The commissioner may designate an agent within the department to exercise the authority of said commissioner under this section.

Sec. 3. Section 26-240 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(a) Any person desiring to plant or cultivate oysters, clams or mussels, in any waters within town jurisdiction, may apply in writing, to the shellfish commission or to selectmen authorized to act, of the town where such grounds are situated, to designate a suitable place to be used by him for that purpose, and such commission or selectmen may make such designation and such applicant shall make and stake out such place and may enclose it with buoys or with stakes, set at suitable distances and distinctly visible above the surface at high water. Such designation shall require the applicant to make a good faith effort to cultivate and harvest shellfish from the designated area. Such designation shall prohibit the applicant from entering a contract with another person that requires the applicant to refrain from cultivating or harvesting shellfish for any period of time except upon approval by the shellfish commission or selectmen, as applicable. Such commission or selectmen shall make a written description of such designation and enclosure, by ranges or otherwise, as may be most convenient, which shall state the time of such designation. The money derived from such designation by selectmen shall be paid to the town in which the same is made. The money derived from a designation by a shellfish commission shall be paid to the commission. A designation may be made to several in common, as well as to individuals. No such designation by the commission or the selectmen shall become effective or be established until after a public hearing in relation thereto has been held by the commission or selectmen authorized to act for that purpose at which parties in interest and citizens shall have an opportunity to be heard. Notice of the time and place of such hearing shall be published in a newspaper having a substantial circulation in such municipality at least twice at intervals of not less than two days, the first not more than fifteen days and the last not less than two days before such hearing. A copy of the written application for the designation shall be filed in the office of the town clerk in such municipality for public inspection at least fifteen days before such hearing and shall be published in full in such newspaper.

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, any owner of a utility line or public use structure that impacts on a designated area shall pay to the designee the costs of removing or relocating any shellfish. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prohibit the state, the shellfish commission, the board of selectmen or a designee from recovering damages incurred by the state, the shellfish commission, the board of selectmen or the designee caused by the installation, construction or presence of such utility line or public use structure.

Sec. 4. Section 26-266 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(a) The selectmen of the town of Branford or shellfish commission established in accordance with section 26-257a shall have charge of all the shellfisheries and shell and shellfish grounds lying in said town not granted to others and not under the jurisdiction of the Commissioner of Agriculture, between the center line of the Farm or East Haven River and the Guilford town line and below mean high-water mark, with power to issue licenses for the taking of shellfish and shells therefrom and to designate the quantities of such shellfish and shells to be taken, the sizes of such shellfish and the methods of taking. They shall also have power to restrict the taking of such shellfish and shells from certain designated areas for periods not in excess of one year. The grants of all areas of shellfish grounds lying within the boundaries of the town of Branford upon which no tax has been paid for a period of three years preceding shall be deemed vacated and such areas shall revert to the town of Branford and become available for further grant by the selectmen or shellfish commission of said town. Before making a further grant, the selectmen or shellfish commission shall determine if such grounds are suitable for public use and any part thereof so determined shall not be available for such grant. Such grant shall require the applicant to make a good faith effort to cultivate and harvest shellfish from the designated area. Such grant shall prohibit the applicant from entering a contract with another person wherein the applicant agrees to not cultivate or harvest shellfish for any period of time, except upon approval by the shellfish commission or selectmen, as applicable.

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, any owner of a utility line or public use structure that impacts on a designated area shall pay to the designee or grantee the costs of removing or relocating any shellfish. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prohibit the state, the shellfish commission, the board of selectmen or any designee or grantee from recovering damages incurred by the state, the shellfish commission, the board of selectmen, the designee or grantee caused by the installation, construction or presence of such utility line or public use structure.

Sec. 5. Subsection (b) of section 22a-361 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(b) The commissioner, at least thirty days before approving or denying an application for a permit, shall provide or require the applicant to provide, by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the applicant, to the Commissioner of Transportation, the Attorney General, the Commissioner of Agriculture and to the chief executive officer, the chairmen of the planning, zoning, harbor management and shellfish commissions of each town in which such structure, fill, obstruction, encroachment or dredging is to be located or work to be performed, and to the owner of each franchised oyster ground and the lessee of each leased oyster ground within which such work is to be performed and shall publish once in a newspaper having a substantial circulation in the area affected, notice of (1) the name of the applicant; (2) the location and nature of the proposed activities; (3) the tentative decision regarding the application; and (4) any additional information the commissioner deems necessary. There shall be a comment period following the public notice during which interested persons may submit written comments. The commissioner may hold a public hearing prior to approving or denying an application if, in the commissioner's discretion, the public interest will best be served by holding such hearing. The commissioner shall hold a public hearing if the commissioner receives a petition requesting such hearing that is signed by twenty-five or more persons and an application will: (A) Significantly impact any shellfish area, as determined by the director of the Bureau of Aquaculture at the Department of Agriculture, (B) have interstate ramifications, or (C) involve any project that requires a certificate issued pursuant to section 16-50k or approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Following such notice and comment period and public hearing, if applicable, the commissioner may, in whole or in part, approve, modify and approve or deny the application. The commissioner shall provide to the applicant and the persons set forth above, by certified mail, return receipt requested, notice of his decision. If the commissioner requires the applicant to provide the notice specified in this subsection, the applicant shall certify to the commissioner, no later than twenty days after providing such notice, that such notice has been provided in accordance with this subsection.

Sec. 6. Section 16-50p is amended by adding subsection (h) as follows (Effective from passage):

(NEW) (h) For purposes of this section, a public need exists for an energy facility if such facility is necessary for the reliability of the electric power supply of the state.

Approved July 9, 2003