Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

 

Raised Bill No. 123

February Session, 2010

 

LCO No. 382

 

*00382_______ENV*

Referred to Committee on Environment

 

Introduced by:

 

(ENV)

 

AN ACT CONCERNING PRESERVING NATURAL VEGETATION NEAR WETLANDS AND WATERCOURSES.

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

Section 1. Section 22a-38 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2010):

As used in sections 22a-36 to 22a-45a, inclusive, and section 3 of this act:

(1) "Commissioner" means the Commissioner of Environmental Protection;

(2) "Person" means any person, firm, partnership, association, corporation, limited liability company, company, organization or legal entity of any kind, including municipal corporations, governmental agencies or subdivisions thereof;

(3) "Municipality" means any town, consolidated town and city, consolidated town and borough, city and borough;

(4) "Inland wetlands agency" means a municipal board or commission established pursuant to and acting under section 22a-42;

(5) "Soil scientist" means an individual duly qualified in accordance with standards set by the federal Office of Personnel Management;

(6) "Material" means any substance, solid or liquid, organic or inorganic, including, but not limited to soil, sediment, aggregate, land, gravel, clay, bog, mud, debris, sand, refuse or waste;

(7) "Waste" means sewage or any substance, liquid, gaseous, solid or radioactive, which may pollute or tend to pollute any of the waters of the state;

(8) "Pollution" means harmful thermal effect or the contamination or rendering unclean or impure of any waters of the state by reason of any waste or other materials discharged or deposited therein by any public or private sewer or otherwise so as directly or indirectly to come in contact with any waters;

(9) "Rendering unclean or impure" means any alteration of the physical, chemical or biological properties of any of the waters of the state, including, but not limited to change in odor, color, turbidity or taste;

(10) "Discharge" means the emission of any water, substance or material into waters of the state whether or not such substance causes pollution;

(11) "Remove" includes, but shall not be limited to drain, excavate, mine, dig, dredge, suck, bulldoze, dragline or blast;

(12) "Deposit" includes, but shall not be limited to, fill, grade, dump, place, discharge or emit;

(13) "Regulated activity" means any operation within or use of a wetland or watercourse involving removal or deposition of material, or any obstruction, construction, alteration or pollution, of such wetlands or watercourses, but shall not include the specified activities in section 22a-40, as amended by this act;

(14) "License" means the whole or any part of any permit, certificate of approval or similar form of permission which may be required of any person by the provisions of sections 22a-36 to 22a-45a, inclusive;

(15) "Wetlands" means land, including submerged land, not regulated pursuant to sections 22a-28 to 22a-35, inclusive, which consists of any of the soil types designated as poorly drained, very poorly drained, alluvial, and floodplain by the National Cooperative Soils Survey, as may be amended from time to time, of the Natural Resources Conservation Service of the United States Department of Agriculture;

(16) "Watercourses" means rivers, streams, brooks, waterways, lakes, ponds, marshes, swamps, bogs and all other bodies of water, natural or artificial, vernal or intermittent, public or private, which are contained within, flow through or border upon this state or any portion thereof, not regulated pursuant to sections 22a-28 to 22a-35, inclusive. Intermittent watercourses shall be delineated by a defined permanent channel and bank and the occurrence of two or more of the following characteristics: (A) Evidence of scour or deposits of recent alluvium or detritus, (B) the presence of standing or flowing water for a duration longer than a particular storm incident, and (C) the presence of hydrophytic vegetation;

(17) "Natural vegetation" means naturally occurring shrubs, trees or other plants, but does not include lawns or manicured grass areas;

[(17)] (18) "Feasible" means able to be constructed or implemented consistent with sound engineering principles; and

[(18)] (19) "Prudent" means economically and otherwise reasonable in light of the social benefits to be derived from the proposed regulated activity provided cost may be considered in deciding what is prudent and further provided a mere showing of expense will not necessarily mean an alternative is imprudent.

Sec. 2. Subsection (a) of section 22a-40 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2010):

(a) The following operations and uses shall be permitted in wetlands and watercourses, as of right:

(1) Grazing, farming, as described in section 1-1, nurseries, gardening [and harvesting of crops] and farm ponds of three acres or less essential to the farming operation, and activities conducted by, or under the authority of, the Department of Environmental Protection for the purposes of wetland or watercourse restoration or enhancement or mosquito control. The provisions of this subdivision shall not be construed to include road construction or the erection of buildings not directly related to the farming operation, relocation of watercourses with continual flow, filling or reclamation of wetlands or watercourses with continual flow, clear cutting of timber except for the expansion of agricultural crop land, the mining of top soil, peat, sand, gravel or similar material from wetlands or watercourses for the purposes of sale;

(2) A residential home [(i)] (A) for which a building permit has been issued, or [(ii)] (B) on a subdivision lot, provided the permit has been issued or the subdivision has been approved by a municipal planning, zoning or planning and zoning commission as of the effective date of promulgation of the municipal regulations pursuant to subsection (b) of section 22a-42a or as of July 1, 1974, whichever is earlier, and further provided no residential home shall be permitted as of right pursuant to this subdivision unless the permit was obtained on or before July 1, 1987;

(3) Boat anchorage or mooring;

(4) Uses incidental to the enjoyment and maintenance of residential property, such property defined as equal to or smaller than the largest minimum residential lot site permitted anywhere in the municipality, provided in any town, where there are no zoning regulations establishing minimum residential lot sites, the largest minimum lot site shall be two acres. Such incidental uses shall include maintenance of existing structures and landscaping but shall not include removal or deposition of significant amounts of material from or onto a wetland or watercourse or diversion or alteration of a watercourse;

(5) Construction and operation, by water companies as defined in section 16-1 or by municipal water supply systems as provided for in chapter 102, of dams, reservoirs and other facilities necessary to the impounding, storage and withdrawal of water in connection with public water supplies except as provided in sections 22a-401 and 22a-403; and

(6) Maintenance relating to any drainage pipe which existed before the effective date of any municipal regulations adopted pursuant to section 22a-42a or July 1, 1974, whichever is earlier, provided such pipe is on property which is zoned as residential but which does not contain hydrophytic vegetation. For purposes of this subdivision, "maintenance" means the removal of accumulated leaves, soil, and other debris whether by hand or machine, while the pipe remains in place.

Sec. 3. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2010) (a) Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, when considering an application for a proposed regulated activity, a municipal inland wetlands agency shall not allow the destruction of natural vegetation within (1) one hundred feet of a wetlands or watercourse, or (2) the distance around the wetlands or watercourse regulated by the municipality pursuant to subsection (f) of section 22a-42a of the general statutes if such distance is less than one hundred feet from such wetlands or watercourse.

(b) A municipal inland wetlands agency shall allow the removal of natural vegetation in connection with a proposed regulated activity if (1) the applicant can demonstrate that the removal will have no likely impact or effect on the physical characteristics of such wetlands or watercourse, or (2) there is no feasible or prudent alternative to the removal, provided such proposed activity meets all other permitting requirements and applicable provisions of chapter 440 of the general statutes.

(c) The provisions of this section shall not apply to construction activities that are ancillary to existing residential uses, including, but not limited to, the construction of structures such as decks, outbuildings, fences or walkways. Any such construction activities shall be subject to all other permitting requirements and applicable provisions of chapter 440 of the general statutes and any natural vegetation in proximity to such construction activities shall be protected or restored to the maximum extent practicable.

(d) The as of right uses specified in section 22a-40 of the general statutes, as amended by this act, shall be permitted in areas of natural vegetation located within the distance around the wetlands or watercourse regulated by the municipality in accordance with subsection (a) of this section.

This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:

Section 1

October 1, 2010

22a-38

Sec. 2

October 1, 2010

22a-40(a)

Sec. 3

October 1, 2010

New section

Statement of Purpose:

To protect natural vegetation in areas near wetlands and watercourses.

[Proposed deletions are enclosed in brackets. Proposed additions are indicated by underline, except that when the entire text of a bill or resolution or a section of a bill or resolution is new, it is not underlined.]