Planning and Development Committee
JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT ESTABLISHING THE TRANSIT CORRIDOR DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE AUTHORITY.
Joint Favorable Substitute
SPONSORS OF BILL:
REASONS FOR BILL:
This bill establishes a Transit Corridor Development Assistance Authority (TCDAA). The Authority will be a quasi-public agency responsible for the creation of transit--related economic development surrounding public transportation hubs.
This process referred to as Transit Oriented Development, or TOD, has been a part of the discussion for the future of Connecticut for a number of years. If passed, this will create the first agency solely dedicated to TOD across the state, unlike other development authorities oriented to develop a small area. The intent behind this bill is to create easily accessible, recreation, and commercial districts that will enhance and stimulate Connecticut's tourism industry, as well as the art, cultural, historical, educational, and entertainment hubs within the state.
Technical language changes. Clarifying language on how a memorandum of agreement can be terminated.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
Gian-Carl Casa, Undersecretary for Legislative Affairs, Office of Policy Management (OPM):
OPM submitted written and spoken testimony in support of SB-19. Undersecretary Casa stated that there has been discussion for several years about switching the course of CT's development to encourage sustainable patterns of development, to move development to locations with current infrastructure capable of supporting it rather than having CT's open spaces being continually developed.
With CT's executive authorities pushing for renewed investments in transportation this is the best time to begin the effort of investing in transit oriented development so plans for infrastructure can be united with plans for economic development.
Undersecretary Casa stated this was the biggest reason for this to be a quasi-public entity as the TCDAA would coordinate with municipalities, regional organizations, and state agencies to create plans of development. Undersecretary Casa stated that state agencies and local authorities have responsibilities and expertise that would prevent them from focusing solely on TOD.
The Undersecretary listed a few examples of quasi-public state authorities that have had a successful record in achieving or exceeding their assigned duty.
Commissioner Catherine Smith, The Department of Economic and Community Development(DECD):
The DECD enthusiastically supports SB 19. Catherine Smith stated in her written testimony that the TCDAA would be a valuable tool for economic development in the state by allowing partnering municipalities to plan housing, leisure, business, and culture infrastructure around the transportation hubs.
The DECD stated that they look forward to working with a TCDAA to create jobs and build livable communities.
Commissioner Evonne Klein, The Department of Housing(DOH):
The DOH submitted testimony in favor the bill. Commissioner Klein stated in her written testimony that the Capitol Region Development Authority (CRDA) has had several successes in its operational tenure. The Authority's holistic approach to economic development will be repeated state wide by a newly formed TCDAA. She also stated that several of the goals of a TCDAA would mimic the goals of the Department of Housing by providing mixed income housing with availability of jobs near transportation corridors.
Commissioner Jim Reddeker Department of Transportation (DOT):
The DOT submitted written testimony in support of the SB 19. The Commissioner stated in his written testimony that state agencies are often approached with project ideas. He stated that a quasi-public agency with staff and resources dedicated to the purpose of transit oriented development would be an invaluable resource, not only in economic development but to reducing environmental impacts due to CO2 emissions and other efficient community goals.
Julia Evans Starr, Connecticut's Legislative Commission on Aging:
The Commission on Aging submitted testimony in support of SB 19. Julia Starr stated on behalf of the commission that they were charged with spearheading an initiative within the state for livable communities. She further stated that “Transit-oriented development benefits everyone, but is especially critical for the third of the population that does not drive, including older adults and individuals with disabilities. Other benefits of connecting development with existing transportation infrastructure include healthier, more active lifestyles for everyone; lowered vehicular congestion and air pollution because of reduced driving; improved connectivity between residents and economic opportunity; and reduced household transportation costs, freeing up income for other purposes.” The commission made recommendations that the legislature study the impediments to TOD within the state, revise zoning codes to maximize smart growth and to include elderly and disabled housing in municipal plans for conservation and development.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
Betsy Gara, Connecticut Council of Small Towns (COST):
COST submitted written and spoken testimony in favor of the bill. Betsy Gara stated that they are in support of having member towns engaged on a voluntary basis with the state regarding projects related to TOD. They made reference to prior legislation with similar intent which did not provide the same cooperation requirements that this bill did. She stated the provisions in this bill related to state and municipal cooperation provided a good start.
Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association(CCAPA):
The CCAPA provided testimony in support of Senate Bill 19. They support the state's efforts to expand the tools available for TOD in CT. They were also in support of the memorandum of agreement provision in the bill.
Kurt Miller, First Selectman, Town of Seymour, Naugatuck Valley Council of Government:
The Naugatuck Valley COG submitted testimony in support of SB-19. They stated that the support of this legislation was a bipartisan decision from the Member Chief Elected Officials that comprise Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments. Selectman Miller stated that there were several key aspects of the bill that garnered the support of the COG. The memorandum of agreement between the TCDAA and the participating municipalities, the superseding of municipal ordinances over any TCDAA project, and the coordination of various state agencies. They also felt that the benefits of having a centralized agency dedicated to TOD would have benefits to the economy, taxpayer relief, and business climate.
Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM):
CCM submitted testimony in support of SB-19. They stated that the language in the bill had calmed concerns that a bill forming a TOD dedicated authority would in fact be a tool to usurp local authority. CCM stated that they were in support of investments in transportation and the idea of TOD.
Marcia Leclerc, Mayor, City of East Hartford:
Mayor Leclerc provided written testimony in favor of SB-19 and spoke in person along with fellow Mayor of North Haven Michael Freda. In her spoken testimony she stated that this bill garnered bipartisan support from Mayors around the state. In her written testimony she listed several blanket concerns people could have with the bill.
Other sources of support:
Partnership for Strong Communities
NATURE AND SOURCE OF NEUTRAL TESTIMONY:
Margaret Wirtenberg, Land Use Specialist, The League of Women Voters (LWVCT):
The League of Women Voters expressed concerns with SB-19 and offered amendments in the form of three additional subsections including a stricter definition of development district, a clarifying subsection that ensures that there will be no exemptions to municipal zoning or ordinances for any of these projects, and a further clarifying section that would not limit the authority to working on state only property.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
Senator Toni Boucher 26th District:
The Senator stated that she was opposed to SB-19. She stated that the formation of this authority created a slippery slope in a process linked to the usurping of local authority. Municipalities were not given enough representation on the TCDAA board. She also stated that it was a waste of state funds in a year where there is a fiscal crisis.
Representative Gary Byron 27th District:
Representative Byron submitted testimony in opposition to SB-19. He stated objections to the top down form of development the formation of a TCDAA would create. He stated that the local development should be planned by local leaders and that development in general should be an organic process.
Representative Gail Lavielle 143rd District:
The Representative provided testimony in opposition to SB-19. Representative Lavielle questioned the intent of the bill suggesting that this organization would be driven by state transit development goals rather than simply municipal assistance. She suggested that the entity is required to gain revenue sources to maintain operation but is also allowed to borrow money from the state. She objected to the authority being formed in a year with a looming fiscal crisis.
She suggested instead that a study be performed to identify the demand in CT for Transit Oriented Development offer a new proposal based on that study and identify those municipalities seeking TOD and the barriers they are facing. She also suggested that personnel within the office of policy management be assigned to the goal of assistance in TOD.
Western Council of Governments(WestCOG):
The WestCOG stated reservations for SB-19. They stated that the reason for the proposed legislation reflects the belief that TOD has not taken a foothold in Connecticut because individual homeowners and local ordinances present road blocks to this type of development.
WestCOG reasons instead that there is simply no demand for this type of development. They suggest that the legislation be changed to study the merits of TOD within the state to give a better view of whether this sort of agency is necessary.
Gail submitted testimony in opposition to SB-19. Gail stated in written testimony that this legislation was designed to subvert local authority. She stated that municipalities already have their own boards dedicated to development. This legislation would attempt to take local authority away from the municipality and create another costly state agency.
Patricia submitted testimony in opposition to SB-19. She summarized her objections to the bill “It creates another government bureaucracy of appointees which will be expensive to run, without quantifying any valuable benefits; It undermines the role of the marketplace and local citizenry in driving natural economic development; It is a redundant agency, since municipal commissions and already-existing state agencies are available to fulfill the proposed functions; It sets the stage for Eminent Domain abuses in the future, should SB19 ever be amended or expanded to authorize Eminent Domain takings for private rather than public uses.”
Regina O'Brien, Member, Town of Redding Planning Commission:
The Redding planning Commission opposes SB-19. They stated concerns that the formation of the TCDAA would diminish the responsibilities of local regulatory agencies causing a loss in local historical and planning knowledge.
Other Sources of Opposition:
Suzanne Bates, Policy Director, Yankee Institute
Reported by: Wade Packer