OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 70 (File 218, as amended by Senate “C”)*

AN ACT CONCERNING THE GRANT OF PROPERTY INTERESTS IN PROPERTY HELD BY THE DEPARTMENTS OF AGRICULTURE AND ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AND THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A PUBLIC USE AND BENEFIT LAND REGISTRY.

SUMMARY:

This bill authorizes the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) commissioner to designate department-owned lands as “lands of public use and benefit,” which includes land used for conservation, public enjoyment, or recreational purposes, or activities to improve or maintain these purposes.

The bill requires the commissioner to establish, by January 1, 2015, a publicly accessible geographic information map system and database that has a public use and benefit land registry. The registry must be able to provide identifying information on (1) land owned by DEEP, other state agencies, municipalities, and land conservation organizations, and (2) state-owned water supply lands. By the same January 1 deadline, the commissioner must make the registry available on DEEP's website and include the identifying information for three state parks he selects. He must update the registry quarterly with information for 10 more state parks.

Lastly, the bill specifically allows the DEEP and Department of Agriculture (DoAg) commissioners to place conservation or preservation restrictions on any lands their departments own. By law, landowners (including the state) may create conservation restrictions in written instruments to maintain land or water areas predominantly in their natural, scenic, or open condition, or in agricultural, farming, forest, or open space use. Preservation restrictions are similar, but are meant to preserve historically significant structures or sites (CGS 47-42a).

*Senate Amendment “C”'s principal provisions (1) eliminate a requirement for Environment Committee approval before conveying a property interest in DEEP or DoAg land, (2) allow the DEEP and DoAg commissioners to place conservation or preservation restrictions on department-owned land, and (3) require the land registry to include state-owned water supply land rather than water company land.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

PUBLIC USE AND BENEFIT LAND REGISTRY

Required information

The bill requires the registry to be capable of providing at least the following information:

1. the land's location and owner;

2. any applicable land categorizations that are based on the land's use and level of protection;

3. information data sheets with any applicable deed, easement, survey, map, and data for each parcel comprising the land; and

4. any available management and stewardship plans.

In establishing the registry, the commissioner must consult with all state agencies to identify state-owned lands that are of public use and benefit. It is unclear how he would obtain information on such lands that are held by other entities (e.g., municipalities).

Under current law, the commissioner must, by October 1, 2014, (1) identify other state agencies' lands that are valuable for conservation purposes and (2) consult with the public health commissioner about any state-owned lands identified as water supply lands. The bill eliminates this deadline and instead requires him to perform these tasks as part of establishing the public use and benefit land registry. Under the bill, he must establish the registry by January 1, 2015.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Environment Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

28

Nay

0

(03/17/2014)

Government Administration and Elections Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

13

Nay

0

(04/11/2014)