Anthony Zepperi, Staff Writer
HARTFORD – Gov. Ned Lamont recently announced that he has signed into law a property revitalization bill that will promote the revitalization of environmentally contaminated, blighted parcels of land and put them back into good use in a way that will benefit the local economy of towns throughout Connecticut while at the same time ensuring environmental integrity.
Approved with bipartisan, unanimous support during the recent special session of the Connecticut General Assembly, the legislation sunsets the Connecticut Property Transfer Act of 1985, which both environmentalists and economic development officials agree was obsolete and ineffective and authorizes the development of a more flexible, predictable, environmentally sustainable, and socially just, release-based regulatory program commonly used in most other states.
Under this new system, rather than singling out certain properties with onerous requirements, it focuses compliance on contamination that poses the greatest risk to the environment, and creates a uniform, predictable set of standards to guide cleanups of low-risk spills without a lot of red tape.
The governor said this renewed approach will take parcels that have gone unused for generations and make them more attractive to private investors, benefiting both the environment and economic development. It is estimated that there are about 4,200 properties in Connecticut that fall under the Transfer Act, and only about a quarter of them have been cleaned up since the program began 35 years ago.
“In today’s challenging times, we are doing everything we can to build a stronger Connecticut economy that is safer and healthier environment for our children,” Lamont said. “This new law will streamline cleanups of contaminated properties, bring properties back to life and there’s never been a more important time to fix regulations that aren’t working, and adopt solutions for the greater good and benefit of our great state.”
The legislation was built through the robust participation of a diverse multitude of stakeholders and with the technical inputs of the professional staff at the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD).
In particular, Lamont thanked the co-chairs of the legislature’s Environment Committee, State Senator Christine Cohen (D-Guilford) and State Representative Mike Demicco (D-Farmington) as well as the co-chairs of the Commerce Committee State Senator Joan Hartley (D-Waterbury) and State Representative Caroline Simmons (D-Stamford) for their advocacy in getting the bill approved by both chambers of the General Assembly.
Connecticut Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Katie Dykes said that she is working hard with business people to help create a more efficient clean-up system.
“This year, with strong legislative leadership and bipartisan support, we are responding to that call, and will finally move to a more effective release-based cleanup framework that matches the rest of the country,” Dykes said. “This new approach will protect our environment and our communities while incentivizing smart, sustainable, and environmentally informed development. DEEP looks forward to working collaboratively with stakeholders on the regulatory framework in the months ahead.”