PA 97-227-sHB 6854
Planning and Development Committee
AN ACT CONCERNING ACQUISITION OF OPEN SPACE LAND, MULTIPLE USE RIVERS
COMMISSIONS AND THE RIVERFRONT RECAPTURE PROJECT
SUMMARY: This act sets as a goal the state holding at least 10% of Connecticut's land area as
open space and requires the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) commissioner to
develop and update as necessary a comprehensive strategy for achieving this goal. The act also
requires the commissioner to set a goal for increasing the amount of open space land held by towns
and private, nonprofit, land-holding organizations. The commissioner must do these things in
consultation with the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and private, nonprofit, land-holding
The act authorizes the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) to enter into an agreement with
Riverfront Recapture, Inc. or its successors or assigns, sponsoring organization, or developer to (1)
develop, operate, and maintain real property for recreational and park purposes and (2) lay out,
construct, maintain, own, operate, lease, or license parks, esplanades, levees, docks, parking
facilities, and walkways connected to the Riverfront Recapture project. MDC may set rates for these
purposes. (The MDC's charter authorizes it to develop and maintain recreational facilities.)
The law allows towns to create river commissions to regulate the development of river corridors
that link them. The act (1) expands the membership of the commissions; (2) requires the
commissions to adopt by-laws in addition to written procedures; and (3) authorizes them to appoint
subcommittees and elect an executive committee to conduct their affairs. An executive committee
must include at least one member representing a conservation organization and one representing a
regional planning agency.
EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage, except for the open space provisions, which are effective July 1,
Open Space Land
The DEP's strategy for achieving the state's goal must include recommendations on:
1. a timetable for state land acquisition,
2. managing the land,
3. resources available for acquiring and managing the land, and
4. ways for towns and private organizations to acquire and maintain open space land.
The DEP must report annually, beginning January 1, 1998, to the Environment Committee on its
strategy and the progress made towards meeting the goals.
River Commission Membership
Under prior law, the chief elected official of each town in a river commission appointed two
members representing the town. The act increases the number of municipal representatives to three.
It specifies that they be (1) the chief elected official or his designee, (2) the head of the inland
wetlands agency or his designee, and (3) a member of a land-use regulation agency appointed by the
chief elected official.
The act also adds a member who owns riverfront property or represents a riverfront property
owners association and limits the public utility and rail service company representatives to one
each, instead of one from any utility or company in or serving the town. It eliminates the regional
planning organization member from the list of town members. Instead, it requires the commission to
appoint a representative from each regional planning agency associated with the commission's
geographic area as a voting member-at-large. And it increases the number of members that can
come from one town from 11 to 12.