CT BOND COMMISSION NEWS JULY 12, 2016...ARE WE READING THIS CORRECTLY?  MORE MONEY TO WESTCOG?
NO, POST-ELECTION 2016 PROBABLY LESS MONEY IN 2017, BECAUSE THE CT BAD NEWS WAS "SAVED" FOR A LESS "POLITICAL" TIME...


  
       

 

Not to brag but...department
URL:  http://www.westcog.org/
W E S T E R N    C O N N E C T I C U T    C O U N C I L    O F    G O V E R N M E N T S  :   We no longer attend these meetings as a member of the public in the audience.  


Contents:  Please note that U.S. Census links do not work because the Bureau has changed them.  It is a good exercise to search the Census website!









A L L    B E T S    A R E    O F F :  
How this Legislative Session makes Robin Hood almost look like a Republican - and radical Robespierre like the Democrat Governor and his henchmen.










OUR SUMMARY:  CCM STOMPS ON SMALL TOWNS...


      
WestCOG chimes in...CCM Study FINAL EXECUTIVE SUMMARY above;  earlier report:  http://www.ccm-ct.org/sites/default/files/files/2016Bulletins_MunicipalFinance_final_rev.pdf

What will this bill end up saying, we wonder - https://www.cga.ct.gov/2016/PDdata/Tmy/2016SB-00090-R000219-Western%20CT%20Council%20of%20Governments%20-TMY.PDF






OP-ED | What CCM Means by ‘Collaborating for the Common Good’
CTNEWSJUNKIE
by Joe DeLong | Jan 20, 2016 11:45am

"From various populations and geography, the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities — CCM — brings together municipal officials to collectively discuss the issues that face Connecticut towns and cities."

"...And CCM is calling on the State to take some key additional steps, such as developing model regional cooperation codes; increasing state financial and other incentives for cost-effective intermunicipal and regional cooperation; empowering Councils of Government to deliver services on a regional basis; reinvesting in planning and technical assistance capacity at OPM; eliminating the red tape and bureaucratic obstacles with state entities that thwart municipalities’ ability to engage in regional cooperation efforts; and making greater staffing investments in entities like the Connecticut Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations..."





S O M E    T H I N G S    N E V E R    C H A N G E    O R   D O   T H E Y ?   S M A R T    M O N E Y    I S    O N    T H E   M A P   B E L O W   ( R )   

    

Western Connecticut Council of Governments, R.I.P.
To be or not to be, that is the question.  How many regions?  North-South, East-West?  Or primary "driver" to find a $upportive $pending $ource for CT?



MAYOR AND FIRST SELECTMAN RACE RESULTS 2017 IN WESTCOG

Of the 18 towns, six (6) now have new members of WestCOG and three (3) of four (4) officers lost or retired from office.

CONTESTED
(please note correction - Brookfield re-elected its First Selectman)

Bethel - Incumbent running for re-election
Bridgewater - reprise of 2015 at the top of the ticket - http://www.newstimes.com/local/article/Familiar-faces-square-off-for-Bridgewater-first-11958293.php
Brookfield - Incumbent running against major party candidate
Danbury - Incumbent running
Darien - Incumbent running with opposition
Greenwich - Incumbent running for re-election against Democrat;  the Internet provided information, but we had not published until now:  http://www.greenwichtime.com/local/article/Greenwich-Democratic-Party-withdraws-support-for-12239506.php
New Canaan - new Republican candidate against Democrat
New Fairfield incumbent we think running against major party opponent- Incumbent running against cross endorsed Conservation Commission members
New Milford - Incumbent running against major party opponent
Newtown - Incumbent not running - contested
Norwalk - Incumbent running against multiple opponents
Sherman
Stamford - Incumbent running with opposition.
Weston - incumbent running againt major party candidate
Westport - Incumbent running against more than one opponent

No Opponent (6 or 7 did not have an opponent two years ago)

Redding
Ridgefield
Wilton

SOURCE:  CT MIRROR - https://ctmirror.org/2017/11/07/local-coverage-links-to-election-results-around-the-state/





MAYORAL & FIRST SELECTMEN RACES 2015/TURNOVER

All town charters, ordinances and regulations:  http://www.jud.ct.gov/lawlib/ordinances.htm
3-way races in Greenwich and New Canaan, Darien,but without DEM candidate, we think!
WestCOG's EIGHTEEN (18) MEMBER TOWNS and possible changes in the order coming Nov. 3 in nine.   Those towns that did not change leadership at the top in 2015 in BOLD

HAN NETWORK link:

News links supplied pre-election stories of interest.  Interesting online link to results in Housatonic Valley towns:  http://www.wcsu.edu/live/
 
NINE (9)

Bethel - WON
Brookfield More Brookfield news;  LOST.  NEVER EASY...
Greenwich - WON
New Fairfield - WON
New Milford - LOST - so here is a March 20, 2017 story about the administration of the victor:  http://www.newstimes.com/local/article/New-Milford-must-find-1-55-million-after-budget-11013135.php
Norwalk - WON
Redding - WON
Weston - LOST
Wilton - WON (different candidate, still R)

SEVEN (7)

WON - No major Party opponents for Ridgefield, Danbury, Darien (contested)...Newtown, Sherman, Bridgewater, New Canaan.

TWO (2)

We believe Westport, Stamford (First Selectman and Mayor, respectively), have 4 yr. terms of office - 2013- 2017.

----------------------------------------------

SOURCE:  Online research and local knowledge: 

NOTE: On the COG to this point, all voting on important issues, in our opinion, is on a 10-8 basis - and it would not appear that Nov. 3 results will change this!






What did 2016 Implementer bring?


M.B.R. REQUIREMENT  change in lines 5441 - 5444.  IMPLEMENTER being discussed now (Friday the 13th, 9:30PM).  Then Rep. Lavielle has COG question on "study" and forced merging of services (mandates) and introduces motion - L.C.0. 6490 House Amendment 'B':  Details mandate relief.  Flexibility requested. 2/3 vote for new mandates request.  April deadline for Legislature's budget to make it relevant for Towns.  All presently offered is State control one size fits all.  Home Rule.  Discretion.  Give this back to towns.



AT LEASE THE REGIONAL PLANNING AGENCY FOR 8 TOWNS HAD 22 MEMBERS - 18 TOWN IN THE COG HAVE...18 MEMBERS!
Will the August meeting of the WCCOG actually take place or will it be another "telephonic" gathering outside the view of the general public (in the sense that the public must go to the former SWRPA offices in Stamford).  No MPO meeting for either former HVCEO or SWRPA towns...
What was in the Implementer? 




    
This is an example of how a COG can perform planning duties for towns.
New London enlists planning service from council of governments
The DAY
By Greg Smith
Published July 16. 2015 3:44PM
Updated July 16. 2015 9:20PM
 
New London — Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio this week signed a contract with the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments for professional planning services while the city looks for a permanent city planner.

Under a contract approved by the City Council on July 6, planning reviews and recommendations for the Planning and Zoning Commission will be handled by SCCOG senior planner James Rabbitt.

Project management services, including technical support in planning for the National U.S. Coast Guard Museum, will be assigned to SCCOG consulting planner Thomas Wagner. Wagner worked as planner for Waterford for three decades before his retirement in 2012.

Tammy Daugherty, New London’s development and planning director, said the contract provides for essential services needed while the city looks to replace former city Planner Harry Smith, who left the city last month for a job as a planner in Branford...

Please search the New London DAY archives for the remainder of this story.




ISSUES:  ORGANIZATIONAL, PHILOSOPHICAL AND POLITICAL - OUR OBSERVATIONS HERE...




The Architecture of Segregation
NYTIMES
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD
SEPT. 5, 2015

Fifty years after the creation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development — and nearly that long after the passage of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 — the fight against the interlinked scourges of housing discrimination and racial segregation in America is far from finished. Economic isolation is actually growing worse across the country, as more and more minority families find themselves trapped in high-poverty neighborhoods without decent housing, schools or jobs, and with few avenues of escape.

This did not happen by accident. It is a direct consequence of federal, state and local housing policies that encourage — indeed, subsidize — racial and economic segregation. Fair housing advocates have recently been encouraged by a Supreme Court decision and new federal rules they see as favorable to their cause. Even so, there will be no fundamental change without the dismantling of policies that isolate the poor and that Paul Jargowsky, a professor of public policy at Rutgers University-Camden, and others call the “architecture of segregation.”

As things stand now, federally subsidized housing for low-income citizens, which seems on its face to be a good thing, is disproportionately built in poor areas offering no work, underperforming schools and limited opportunity. Zoning laws in newer suburbs that rest on and benefit from infrastructure built with public subsidies prevent poor, moderate-income and minority families from moving in. Discriminatory practices exclude even higher income minority citizens from some communities...editorial in full:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/06/opinion/sunday/the-architecture-of-segregation.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=opinion-c-col-left-region&region=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region&_r=0







First Director resigns; new Director hired.
  First test of WCCOG to handle adversity - good job!
New Director experienced regional planning in CT, with excellent educational background, management experience and thinks on his feet!  SWRPA PLAN OF C&D (r) only available thru site search - uploaded here.

OUR OBSERVATIONS:
The answer to whether Weston is "rural" or not...we're working on it!  Read all about Sherman's issues here:  http://www.newstimes.com/local/article/Sherman-residents-question-if-Full-Circle-Farming-5919841.php
REGIONAL TAX SHARING FOR NEW DEVELOPMENTS COMING IN SB1?





MUNICIPAL FACILITIES NEEDS AND STORMWATER



WCCOG (l) AND CT DEEP HEARING NEXT WEEK OR SO, WE THINK... 

First Selectman busy on several fronts...DRAFT changes (in part above) in red work for Weston!  Thanks goodness!!! 

From the point of view of a community such as Weston, which has neither sewers nor public water lines, not a problem.  However, in this case,  DEEP/EPA is talking about "municipal separation" of storm sewers from septic sewers - something that has been accomplished already, we think, in all parts of the former SWRPA region...

The most egregious recommendation was for mandated leaf pick up;  "Low-Impact Development" mandated but moved back to 4 years instead of in 2 years...for comparisons in full:  http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/upload/2015/01/Comparisongrid.pdf

More fodder for development of "Speak Up" questions in today's FORUM?




STORMWATER ETC AND D.E.E.P REGULATIONS
CTNEWSJUNKIE article on proposed rev. changes:  http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/deep_revises_storm_water_permit/

A LESSON IN PROCESS:
-------------

NOT IN THE REGION:  http://www.theday.com/local/20150906/preston-voters-to-decide-tuesday-on-funding-for-norwich-hospital-cleanup



State pollution plan could cost communities $100 million

Amanda Cuda, CTPOST
Updated 11:24 pm, Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Connecticut cities and towns are fighting a state measure to reduce pollution from stormwater runoff, saying it could cost them more than $100 million.

On Tuesday, the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities held a news conference urging the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to discuss its objections to a proposal aimed at cutting the amount of pollutants, including petroleum residue and fecal matter, that end up in municipal stormwater systems and, subsequently, rivers, lakes and streams. DEEP will have a hearing on the proposal Wednesday morning at its Hartford headquarters...story in full:  http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/State-pollution-plan-could-cost-communities-100-5961283.php#photo-7278759

And earlier, from CTNEWSJUNKIE:  CCM President is among those who object to imposing implementation on towns and cities...Public Hearing 12-17-14 79 Elm Street (DEEP)

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities said the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s draft permit to regulate this runoff from municipal streets will cost 80 cities and towns nearly $82 million...DEEP acknowledged that the draft permit would be applied to smaller, less densely populated towns than federal law requires.

“While federal law does not require the same standards for communities with less population density, we believe it is important to extend improved storm water management practices to them,” a spokesman with DEEP said. “This will help improve the condition of many impaired water bodies in rural areas and protect the condition of others that are in better condition.”

So after the CCM press conference, covered by CTNEWSJUNKIE, The Day rewrote their story, and we suspect will follow up with an in depth report later this evening:  http://www.theday.com/



WHAT WILL WESTON BE LIKE IN...2016 - THE NEXT TIME THE REGIONAL PLAN IS DONE;  Will WestCOG survive long enough to do one?

NEWS: 
At the December 17, 2015 WestCOG meeting it was announced that the new Regional Plan had to be done...in 2025.  So how come Greater Bridgeport COG, now "rebranded" ctmetro.org







Guess what?  "Bethel police station cost estimate comes in over budget"
Link to article by Julia Perkins Updated 1:19 pm, Wednesday, October 12, 2016
http://www.newstimes.com/local/article/Bethel-police-station-cost-estimate-comes-in-over-9966711.php






THE AFTERNOON BEFORE THE RESULT, AT COG MEETING...HOW DO WESTON POLICE NUMBERS AND STATUS COMPARE?
If just the right number for Bethel was "reduced from $14 million" to $13.5, and they have 26,000 sq ft for 37 officers and 12 civilians, on a new site, how does this compare to Weston?

Voters approve funding for new police station

Danbury News-Times
By Mackenzie Rigg
Updated 9:50 pm, Thursday, December 17, 2015

BETHEL — A long-debated new police station will soon become a reality after residents on Thursday voted overwhelmingly in favor of funding the project.  They voted 1,831 to 1,078 to spend $13.5 million to build the new facility, according to unofficial results announced at the town’s Municipal Center. This comes about a year after a referendum for a $14.1 million version of the plan was defeated by 69 votes...story in full: 
http://www.newstimes.com/news/article/Voters-approve-funding-for-new-police-station-6706279.php




NEW BETHEL PD HEADQUARTERS (LOOK FAMILIAR?) GOES DOWN
Town Meeting approves two other proposals  by large majorities...water tank that will be reimbursed and an energy efficiency contract.

LINK TO REPORT POST REJECTION:  http://www.bethel-ct.gov/filestorage/1190/83/10494/10616/2015-01-29m_sp_mtg.pdf

Bethel narrowly votes down new police station

Danbury News-Times
Nanci G. Hutson
Updated 11:32 pm, Tuesday, December 9, 2014

BETHEL -- By 69 votes, taxpayers on Tuesday night rejected a proposal to spend $14.1 million to build a new police station, dealing a blow to those who believe the existing 8,500-square-foot facility is inadequate...story in full:  http://www.newstimes.com/local/article/Bethel-narrowly-votes-down-new-police-station-5946554.php#photo-7248497




Check the fine print lower left - same consultant that we are using!
Danbury News-Times:  http://blog.ctnews.com/offbeat/2014/12/09/bethel-to-vote-on-20-million-in-town-projects/


 



HAZARDS AND COMMUNITY RESILIENCE WORKSHOP: 
Weston, Wilton and New Canaan, November 18, 2014, Wilton Town Hall Annex


First Selectman Bill Brennan welcomed everyone...including Weston's Land Use Director, P&Z, Fire Department, Nature Conservancy Director, CL&P (seated near us)...


Weston base map always reminds me to thank goodness for the Nature Conservancy and the Town, which purchases development rights before 1990.
All bridges and areas subject to flooding identified by the end of the day;  dams located;  ranking of hazards by concern to Emergency agencies.  And other categories.

Where the process began...in New Canaan.


Senior and challenged housing folks there in force, as was DPW, P&Z and town planner as well as State Senator.

Wilton was the host, and they had many staff present - we always learn a lot from their excellent professionals!


Where to begin with Wilton's hazards!  Home to the major transportation routes north-south in the new WCCOG, they had a lot to put on a map!


Weston base dataFlood zones in pink.


Anyone who lives in Weston knows about the power of wind and storms to disrupt.
Mention was made of need for a plan protecting Weston and Westport should a natural disaster affect the Samuel Senior Dam.



Explaining why we were doing this exercise was the next step.  Partial answer:  To meet FEMA requirements (always changing).


Introductory remarks and power point by Nature Conservancy leader.  Weston gets started - note Wilton representatives in the background.


The three towns began work, with Nature Conservancy staff taking notes with leadership involvement by WCCOG staff


And then there was CL&P and the power issue.  With New Canaan in the background, Weston Fire Chief and Weston P&Z discuss how G.I.S. may help their efforts. 
All Weston danger spots now and in the future (5 yrs) identified!


And the event both began and finished on time - bravo to Nature Conservancy/WCCOG organizers - a good sign!!!




Our bet - Coastal Communities and inland communities may differ.


What are the region’s worst natural hazards?  Western CT council wants public input on survey
By Weston Forum on November 15, 2014

A Natural Hazard Survey has been released to solicit public feedback regarding natural hazards in the state’s southwestern planning region. The survey aims to identify the natural hazards of greatest public concern, including vulnerable locations and potential mitigation opportunities.

The Western Connecticut Council of Governments (WCCOG, formerly SWRPA) is issuing the survey in conjunction with its ongoing Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP) efforts, a key planning document that keeps participating municipalities eligible for many types of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding...story in full:  http://www.thewestonforum.com/23131/what-are-the-regions-worst-natural-hazards/






WESTERN CONNECTICUT COUNCIL OF GOVERNMENTS MEETING NOTES BY ABOUT TOWN - IN REVERSE CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER OR USE CONTENTS

Contents of Meeting Notes section (Italics were unofficial meetings prior to formal beginning of COG 1-15):
10-23-14, 11-20-141-22-152-19-153-19-15 4-16-155-21-156-25-157-16-158-20-159-17-1510-22-15;   11-19-1512-17-15;

Combined Legislative Breakfast January 14, 2016


1-21-16, 2-18-16, 3-17-164-21-165-19-16; 6-16-16
July meeting did not happen (office should be moving, too);  8-18-16 also cancelled;  Regular Monthly Meetings now held at RVNA.
9-15-16;   10-20-1611-17-16 CANCELLED12-15-161-23-17 LEGISLATIVE MEETING AND COG;  2-23-17;





FEBRUARY 23, 2017 WestCOG meeting:  A joint SWRPA-HVCEO MPO meeting first (transportation matters).

 
MPO heard from Woody Bliss
Weston's former First Selectman asked for help on opposing off-reservation gambling bills by asking if there was some info on traffic studies.  The real proposal is for Bridgeport, apparently.  When HVCEO study was brought up and requested to be part of the record, during public comment by Woody, I asked to be recognized and reported that SWRPA had done an excellent report on traffic effects on Trump casino proposal (IIRC) for Bridgeport too - should be in WestCOG files.


WestCOG elected a new executive committee 2017

  
NEW OFFICERS
Thanks given to Bethel's First Selectman (l) who served two terms as WestCOG began...Darien's First Selectman (r) follows.

Staff reports on G.I.S., I.T. and other related matters and a tax study;  Legislative comment as well as full answers to any other questions given.

   
STAFF MOST IMPRESSIVE!
Tax Study is about technical ("back office") coordinations for most efficient performance of Town tax collectors.  Executive Director asked to upload WestCOG comments on bills to the website.

(R) Not all cities agree...

   
STAMFORD TO GET WHAT IT THOUGHT IT WANTED WE SUSPECT
Hot time in the region today as conclusion is "Watch the Implementer!!!"   There was discussion of cities v. suburbs and weighted voting on COGS - of course, you all remember why communities were sold on the concept of a COG, right?  I can hear the siren song still...



This was the big item for me -  I actually almost told everybody that they were being snookered again.
When given the opportunity to speak at the end, I pointed out that perhaps The Emperor/Governor was not wearing any clothes - in the sense that no one wanted to say the State of CT was effectively bankrupt???

Congratulations to new Chair. on finishing earlier than might have been expected.  And on conducting very significant roundtable on where towns are with budget response to Governor. 

NOTE:  Meetings such as the one below taking place everywhere!


Please watch TRI-BOARD MEETING Feb. 13, 2017 for Weston. 






REGIONAL LEGISLATIVE MEETING 2017 AND THEN WESTCOG MEETING
RVNA beginning at 8:30am Monday January 23, 2017

We had the flu and did not attend.








WestCOG G.I.S. rolling out!!!

December 15, 2016 meeting of WestCOG agenda - big items include three varieties of dues, notice of Legislative meeting at 8am in January and nominating committee formation.

PUBLIC COMMENT:  About Town reported on "Temporary Health Care Structures Task Force" meetings observed on CT-N.
Note that Darien First Selectman interested in finding out more among others.   Initial meeting - to prepare legislative proposal - second meeting reviews draft and approved "L.C.O. 231" for Legislative model regulation submission.




State Health Department proposal to have 8 health districts on County Boundaries instead of 72 town and multi-town districts. 
This idea went over like a lead balloon.  The photos below show how unimpressed the COG was...and the discussion carried on into an unpleasant one about dues and regional planning organization format - again.

             

T H E    B U C K    S T O P S    H E R E

      
We paraphrase, but smallest town says "we're 'outa here'" if Stamford's idea passes...funding for next year a question at State and national level at this point (r) and interesting data from Census;  more to be provided by by G.I.S.

After well explained three examples, Mayor of Stamford asks for a fourth method that would include a base amount everyone pays. Plus he want weighted voting like they had in SWRPA.

ITEM:  Dues structure based on:  population-land varieties by %  - (A) 50-50, (B) 55-45, and (C) 60-40.
If I recall correctly, regarding "land" area, Darien, as the smallest town in former SWRPA as well as WestCOG would prefer 60-40, New Milford, the largest town (land area), might go for 50-50.  Weston is the third "smallest" contributor to WestCOG budget in all three versions.  Lowest for Weston (C). 



 2017 schedule WestCOG;  Agenda 12-15-16
 

Over before 2pm.





We asked what's up (report in ADVOCATE) - CTDOT provided this:  WestCOGStamfordStationTOD10-20-16.PDF

New site for these monthly meetings - the RVNA  building in Ridgefield, 27 Governor Street
October 20, 2016 meeting, 12:30pm WestCOG


Ridgefield Visiting Nurses Association ("RVNA")welcome

New permanent meeting room for WestCOG also in Ridgefield.

 
A REFRESHING ADMISSION THAT REGIONAL SOLUTIONS DEPEND ON OVERCOMING LABOR AGREEMENTS, LEGISLATIVE TENDENCIES
CCM Executive Director tries to sell the CCM concept of "everyone sitting at the table and then unanimously agreeing to the study now underway"...that may very well end up working against their towns.

          
SKEPTICAL MAYORS AND FIRST SELECTMEN
Pictures sometimes don't need captions!  After this item the regular meeting moved swiftly through the usual types of issues - soup to nuts!!!  Budgeting 101 for Regional Entities from the Treasurer, new way to bill for operations of regional entities - former SWRPA towns take a hit because...JMO...SWRPA dues lower because it generated much more outside money/grants due to its railroad, waterfront, turnpike remediation and contributed energy if not $$ from businesses in Stamford (& Norwalk as well as Greenwich).

DUES STRUCTURE BASED ON U.S. CENSUS (BELOW 2010 CENSUS) POPULATION FIGURES AND ALSO ACTUAL SIZE BY AREA.


First discussion...proposal by Treasurer.
Future WestCOG dues structure as 50% area and 50% population brings groans from some - generally, the former SWRPA town get big increases - with I think New Milford also - but the numbers are not for publication.

Meeting of WestCOG finished just after 2pm.




Are they in their new office space yet??? YES but still in boxes.  There will be an "open house" at some time in October.
September 15, 2016 meeting, 12:30pm WestCOG
Bethel Library Community Room is the location.  Joint MPO meeting at 11:30am.
We note that long-time members of the planning staff of former SWRPA organization as well as HVCEO have left. 

         
TRAFFIC COUNTS FROM STREAMING VIDEO (REMEMBER WE THOUGHT THAT A DRONE WOULD BE HANDY...)?
Exciting or should I say dynamics reports from engineering/transportation/GIS staff members given - plus news of new technology for doing traffic counts!!!

  

NEWS - SEPARATE SCHOOL TAX STATE WIDE COMING?
Meeting had opened with Mayor Boughton announcing that the State of CT is appealing and it will be heard in early January 2017.  Then he reported that CCM has formed two committees to react and come up with a substitute or two or three (early study here).  We note that CCM committee includes Danbury and Stamford - when asked, CCM Chair. says everyone is welcome to attend meetings.  He also noted CT Tax Panel consultant (didn't have the name...was it Michael Bell?) but he has hired thru CCM this consultant to go further with his tax panel recommendations in time for the upcoming Session.



NEWTOWN IS NEW HOME FOR COG OFFICE
The official opening of the offices will be in October!

Next meeting location not settled, but it will be on October 20th.








June 16, 2016 meeting in Ridgefield Library
AGENDA

Interestingly, a quorum was present minus only New Canaan.  These had just been a well attended M.P.O. Joint Meeting.


M.P.O. members and guests enjoy lunch...


Two meetings with lunch "sandwiched" in-between?
There could be a study of the comparative value of joint M.P.O. meetings prior to WestCOG meetings...

  
An offer one really can't refuse!!!
D.E.C.D. presentation on Brownfield permit facilitation.  Ombudsman presented for State Agency.


OPM Study of Weighted Voting on COG due by Dec. 1, 2016...
In review of minutes of previous meeting, rewording still needed to express the precise meaning of changes made re: voting by other than Mayor-First Selectman, which may provide basis for testimony in time for next Session?.

No meeting expected for July.





MAY 19, 2016 WESTCOG MEETING IN RIDGEFIELD LIBRARY
AGENDA

A quorum was present and the meeting began at 12:31PM. with a presentation by CCM staff of what happened in the Legislature.  We note that WestCOG is might or might not be filled in on Sec118 of Implementer below:

"State Budget and Legislative Session in Review" below



                  
CCM BRIEFING
Presenters explained the intricacies of changes to various programs.  About Town's comment:  Apparently, for fiscal reasons "the names have been changed to protect the innocent" on several programs to make them virtual "Legislative mules."  Every trick in the book was played to make it under the strictures of one rule or another...including the spending cap.  The professional staff advice was not always followed.  Which is not a surprise to me!


BY-LAWS CHANGED TO MAKE STAMFORD HAPPY
One example of Special Session magic was related to voting power on a COG - this was one of the last items on the agenda.

---------------------



WILL VOTING POWERS ON COG TO CHANGE AFTER THIS OPM STUDY?



------------------







CTDOT LIVE NOW!

            

Thursday April 21, 2016 WestCOG meeting in Ridgefield Library.


  
Excellent news of coordination of aerial data and upcoming availability from GIS staff (not shown) and Executive Director - who announced that WestCOG had successfully negotiated a lease for Newtown property for combined headquarters for staff.  Meetings for agency to continue in Ridgefield, a more central location.  So new location will move the organization from Stamford, in the former SWRPA region, to HVCEO area, for staff.  Summer intern 2016 from Princeton, computer engineering, and appears multi-talented.


                  
Very interesting discussion, second reading, of changes proposed by Stamford to WestCOG bylaws.  Compromise proposed by Mayor of Danbury - this centered around City of Stamford preferring the SWRPA-style representation to HVCEO construct.  We note that there was weighted voting in SWRPA, with cities of Norwalk and Stamford with 4 representatives each, medium size Greenwich and Westpprt with three, and the small towns with 2 each.  In a COG, every town gets one vote.

    
And then the item about ECS funding came up.  There was much annoyance and anger expressed, and Weston First Selectman reported on her 2 hour ATBM the previous evening.  NEXT MEETING May 19th.

----------------



WestCOG:  APRIL 21, 2016 - NO AGENDA YET POSTED (LEGITIMATELY SO) BUT LISTED FOR APRIL 21, 2016, 12:30-2PM, RIDGEFIELD LIBRARY
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE DISCUSSED, MET, AND ONE ITEM WAS"AGENDA" 












WestCOG March 17, 2016 meeting, Ridgefield Library...new CTDOT WEBSITE COMING.




W O W  ,    W H A T    A    M E E T I N G  

How the CTDOT Commissioner attended the M.P.O. meeting and took up more time than everything else on the agenda.


                  
CTDOT VISITATION
Good news on Merritt Seven Train Station - RAIL - TRANSIT - "fastrak" - auto (ride) - so glad they got this "branding" done.  St. Patricks Day visit by leprechaun



Redding, Wilton, Darien, Bethel on train lines - does this issue affect them?  CTDOT wall display on both walls - like "'Modified Eminent Domain' Wall to Wall" 
Hey no problem -
State of CT parking lots at locally operated stations (or is the the reverse) - in either case, both entities involved.  Commissioner explains how his operation runs with one staff member answering phones, making coffee, policy and answering local political leaders' questions 9-5...please call him directly - "Press One for Commissioner Redeker."


             
NO LONGER "EMINENT DOMAIN ON STEROIDS" OR NOT EXACTLY?
Then after the Commissioner left, there was "public involvement" update on the very bill he had just been claiming was "cool" may not be?


     
No one mentioned that the quorum was disappearing...almost.
Bike-Ped took some  time, although he didn't seem to have been listening to the Commissioner tell everyone there were no problems.
   

 
BYLAWS FIRST READING PASSES WITH MINOR CHANGE; 
Stamford Mayor asks for "dispensation" in bylaws of not being allowed to have an alternate who is staff attend for C.E.O.  Then the items that had to be acted upon for timely notification on grants matters...



 
        
"Erin go BRIE?
New agency digs contract action taken.  With 11 members remaining after 2pm -  vote 8-3 in favor of leaving Stamford Government Center for preferred Newtown location...   

Adjourned after 2pm.






H I G H L Y    C H A R G E D    M E E T I N G ;   F I R S T    J O I N T    M . P . O .   M E E T I N G    F O L L O W E D    W E S T C O G     M T G .
About Town notes that here we had an example of why the weighted voting  at an R.P.A. structure was a better deal for cities! 


         
Next generation
Students' eye view of transportation as it relates to the downtown Stamford UCONN campus.  Study of how students commute.  Was well received by professional staff and Chairman.  Professor Harmon's students work also explored how railroad parking was doing..

    
Details and funds that will be withdrawn if not used - but no assurance that any more funding will follow the start-up year or two.
Running the meeting and keeping the new COG afloat from a financial point of view must be an interesting balancing game!  Keeping the record clear as to what exacting transpired is really important, too!!!

       
Then came the fun part!  It was cities versus big towns...and then first Joint M.P.O. meeting during the formal existence of WestCOG.
But unlike SWRPA, R.I.P., in a COG every CEO gets just one vote...nonetheless, Stamford and Danbury not present, so Norwalk and Darien, actually, spoke well for their case for putting aside "unfunded mandates" issue over part-time Election Moderator to be hired by COG but paid by CT - "one size fits all" mentioned.  And then it was over, without covering the full agenda...on to M.P.O. business (About Town left at this point).

NOTE:  Elected Officials bridled at being told what to do with State "pass-through" money...not to mention...well, we won't go there!





W E S T C O G    H I T T I N G    I T S    S T R I D E ?

January 21, 2016 Regular Meeting of the WestCOG organization

     
Meeting began on time didn't have to wait for a quorum!
Getting through the early parts of the agenda including adding topics for action on banking resolution and bylaws second reading.  Exec. Director and staff communicated data sets on traffic issues;  elections held and all officers remained except for Tresurer, now Newtown First Selectman.  Interesting to hear discussed what About Town knows about re:  How SWRPA had handled its finances a lot better than HVCEO, perhaps because funds for transportation in the east-west corridor mas mucho compared to north-south?  But we digress...

     
ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC SAFETY ACTIONS FROM PLANS ONE IDEA!
Those matters beyond town borders and even regional borders attended to by staff but also skilled and especially experienced town leaders.  And then staff took everyone thru the Northeast Corridor plans...




Not a "no action" alternative, but smaller plans for limited budgets...


Alternative One works well for WestCOG but in order to speed up travel in the NEC, South-East corridor gets major changes.  But...one of the ways this is accomplished is new "Shoreline East" route...


Shoreline East has loops upon loops and very slow speeds as it is.



No takers in the room for alternative two - some discussion at this point of next Legislative Session seeking to accomplish Transportation Strategy Board wish to control areas receiving State of CT major parking investments...

HOW ABOUT "THE BIG PICTURE" (THE ONE WITH LITTLE OR NO DETAILS...)???



Alternative Three drew some interest as well as support for #1 (it seemed that everyone preferred #1) and by the way, Stamford has a lot to watch out for in the Transportation Strategy Board's recommendations, too - and the proposed not made in writing to change the bylaws to permit others than Mayors and First Selectmen to vote (doesn't this sound like the old SWRPA arrangement???) was obviously getting some who were at the Regional Legislative Breakfast annoyed...and good for them!!!

     

What was that that Otto Von Bismark is reputed to have said?  "You should never see how laws and sausages are made."


Good symbol for COG process above as it gets manipulated by Legislature/Governor in 2016..
NEXT MEETING FEB. 18,  2016, Ridgefield Library.





Although we are given to understand that there is one being held by Stamford independently.
FIRST JOINT WestCOG LEGISLATIVE BREAKFAST, 8:30am to 10am???

"You should never see how laws or sausages are made" is an old saying.  In CT, especially the day after G.E. announced its departure for Boston, no one was very pleased with the thought of what tomorrow will bring.  Captions for picture below.



HOT POTATOES (l) AND "YOU SHOULD NEVER SEE HOW LAWS AND SAUSAGES ARE MADE"
And the scrambled eggs steamed away (see below) as legislators spoke passionately of their frustrations with where "The Land of Steady Habits" was descending, fiscally.  Like being on the thin ice of the West Branch of the Saugatuck!



    
THAT VERY AFTERNOON, THERE WAS AN "OOPS" MOMENT FROM OPM ON SPECIAL SESSION "BALANCED" BUDGET
Both Greenwich (which was represented here, too) and Stamford appeared to be at the Stamford event, but Norwalk's Mayor Rilling came here first.  What we can all look forward to in the Short Session coming Feb. 3rd?



  
NORWALK AND DANBURY MAYORS PRESENT, GREENWICH REPRESENTED
Whether from former SWRPA towns or HVCEO towns, state senators present agree the process is broken and no one appears to be fixing it in the right way.



    

WestCOG LIST OF INTERESTS
As report read aloud, legislators "scramble" to read the detail - one legislator later reminded the assembled COG officials that they should remember to write a joint letter ASAP on the importance of improvements to Danbury Branch. As well as possible application of TOD there, too (my point had anyone asked me).




        
AND ONE MORE THING...OPIATES AND THE LADDER OF ADDICTION.
Ironically, the Legislative Breakfast was in the party wing of this popular venue for summer weddings, etc.




   
AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND LEGAL FEES
New Democrat Mayor of Brookfield (in blue sweater) asked for help and advice regarding 8-30g - noted that his town's site was less than an acre and the request wss for hundreds of apartments.  He noted that he was sorry that his community had infrastructure (public water and sewer).  And then it was all over!





December 17, 2015 - AGENDA (including back up) :  https://westcog.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/2015-12-17_WestCOG-Meeting_Full-Packet_for-Posting.pdf

       


WestCOG comes to Weston!
A full meeting with lots accomplished.  After a year, COG functioning more like a BIG WHEEL!  Meeting began on time without a quorum, but soon after more towns were there than had even been anticipate!  Only New Canaan and Bridgewater NOT in attendance.  Stamford and Norwalk representatives NOT mayors sat at the table but we assume did not vote.



      
BIG AGENDA, BIG ISSUES



GRANTS



Executive Director reports - my comments below, not his.



COMBINED OFFICES


ABOVE AN EXAMPLE OF ITALIANATE VICTORIAN STYLE
Discussion of new WestCOG office space and vote to (unofficially) approve the proposed move to building off I-84 in Newtown.



   
CENTRALITY?
Ridgefield Library (a library seeking to update itself) site of Jan. 21, 2016 WestCOG meeting.  And we thought we picked up the news that this may be the regular meeting spot monthly in the future.  Certainly the First Selectman of Greenwich (above left) has been the best sport all year, even giving up his town's "opportunity" to host a WestCOG meeting since the northern towns are so far away! 

NOTE:  In the days of SWRPA, Greenwich SWRPA members had terrific attendance, whether meetings were held in Norwalk or Stamford.

------------------

Approved in principle; formal OK on lease later.
Historic new digs
Italianate Victorian style as seen in Hudson, N.Y.  WestCOG office building is sited more dramatically if Google Earth or Streetview shows it correctly... 





Immediately after WestCOG adjourned the Southwestern CT MPO began its session...


How's that again? 
Yes, both Wilton and Weston were represented by immediate past First Selectmen to help make the transition to new administrations "seamless."



November 19, 2015:  AGENDA and previous month's minutes here - https://westcog.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/2015-11-19_WestCOG-AgendaMtgPkg_final-Rev.pdf

  
THIS ROOM WAS NOT MUCH MORE COMMODIOUS THAN THE COMMISSION ROOM IN WESTON TOWN HALL...
Welcome to Danbury City Hall from Mayor, presentation of Danbury history and a Danbury city mug.  FYI - the parking isn't any better than in Weston Town Hall-Library lot.

   
Call for Solar applications and a unified form in all towns.  Eversource looks as if they are considering applying...but no, they were there to mention that prices for winter service will be lower than last year.

News of new location for WestCOG - to be in Newtown, which is good for some and less good for others, we suspect. 




Weston, Bridgewater and New Fairfield have no SLOSSS sites (as in Weston plus the last town to be "dry" and the hometown of Weston FORUM editor).

-----------------

Next meeting scheduled for Weston Dec. 17, 2015.  And Cobb's Mill Inn suggested as site for Legislative meeting January 16th (snow day 18th).




OCTOBER 2015

AT THE WestCOG
WestCOG meets October 22, 2015 at 12:30pm for perhaps the last time at same building as former SWRPA offices in the Government Center in Stamford. 

AGENDA:  http://nebula.wsimg.com/e56ca1616aad37de8552477df2580d85?AccessKeyId=9F35ADC83CFAA5FBE2A4&disposition=0&alloworigin=1


FIRST ON THE AGENDA WAS WATERSHED PROGRAM DISCUSSION:  Hazard mitigation workshop held by SWRPA in 2014 link.

The COG heard from the Nature Conservancy re:  Long Island Sound and their study of contributors to degrading of water quality in the Sound.  Closely watched, COG members chimed in...

   
One thing the speaker noted was that their computer "model" didn't work in all areas feeding into L.I.S.  In particular, results from Long Island septic disposal systems (including wells & cesspools) on Nitrogen Loading (example below used in Peconic Estuary [L.I.]) are probably not going to be the same accuracy in the different soils in Connecticut (JMO).

                 

SOMEONE SAY SEPTIC SYSTEMS SHOULD BE REPLACED WITH...WHAT?
Wait a minutes says Ridgefield and Darien and Weston...what are you suggesting to save the seagrasses?  Report in the Greenwich TIME:   http://www.greenwichtime.com/news/article/Study-Shorefront-development-imperils-6586150.php


      

 THIS ITEM WAS SHELVED (ALTHOUGH THE DRAFT WAS DISTRIBUTED) UNTIL THE NOVEMBER MEETING OF WestCOG
"Item 5a:  Consideration of unelected COG representatives."  NO RELATION TO WANTING TO SEE THE RESULTS OF NOV. 3rd ELECTION, WE ASSUME!  No decision made and not discussed, so we didn't ask for a copy.. 

And no decisions about anything else were made either, including new office location (both choices somewhere in Newtown).  Meeting was held in Stamford Government Center - which had recently seen the Planning Commission give an unfavorable review of new suggestion for a (R - we believe this is a map of the Harbor Point area) boatyard replacement to the Stamford Zoning Board.

     
NO ACTION
New website for COG coming soon...designed for mobile devices as well as use by more traditional equipment:  WORD PRESS used in in-house redesign.




SEPTEMBER 2015

  

THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 17, 2015.  HOST COMMUNITY LOCATION: REDDING COMMUNITY CENTER, 37 LONETOWN ROAD.

Revised agenda here.

About a two hour meeting filled with information from both guests and staff. 


        


     


PUBLIC DOCUMENT
Regional daytime population - from Journey to Work data from the U.S. Census, we assume.



          

News on move for office - looking for 3 - 5000 sqft.  And down to 4 or 5 sites in Danbury-Newtown area.  Doing website design in-house.

NEXT MEETING IN STAMFORD...quite a trek for WestCOG members coming from former HVCEO towns.




AUGUST 2015

WE NOTE THIS SLIDE FROM PARTNERSHIP FOR STRONG COMMUNITIES' POWER POINT


FORMER GUEST OF "ABOUT TOWN" IS ON THE AGENDA FOR A PRESENTATION (HE HAD BEEN INVITED TO SWRPA AT ITS MEETING IN WESTON SOME YEARS AGO)
Meeting in New Canaan Thursday August 20, 2015...http://nebula.wsimg.com/bb1274394780f4583afd35f5c7706481?AccessKeyId=9F35ADC83CFAA5FBE2A4&disposition=0&alloworigin=1

NEWS:

At the Board of Selectmen it was announced that WestCOG would be consolidating offices in Danbury./Newtown area by the end of the year, when SWRPA Offices lease is up.  In addition, speaker David Fink handed out Partnership's data from its website.  A link here:  http://www.pschousing.org/files/PSC_SuburbanCT.pdf


On the agenda were a number of items of interest but only one item for action - approval of the minutes of the telephonic meeting of the previous month.  The informational items and staff presentations:






JULY 2015



AGENDA here.

What happened at the WCCOG - now "branded" as W E S T C O G -  meeting Thursday July 17, 2015? 

Meeting was telephonic and lasted less than half and hour.  DRAFT minutes:  http://nebula.wsimg.com/cb13a15ec5dc1657cd22134c1070ecaf?AccessKeyId=9F35ADC83CFAA5FBE2A4&disposition=0&alloworigin=1





JUNE 2015


AGENDA AND BACKUP INFO ON BUDGET HERE.

What happened at the WCCOG - now "branded" as W E S T C O G -  meeting Thursday June 25, 2015?  DRAFT minutes:  http://nebula.wsimg.com/cb13a15ec5dc1657cd22134c1070ecaf?AccessKeyId=9F35ADC83CFAA5FBE2A4&disposition=0&alloworigin=1

Considering that the Special Session will not have taken place yet, and that no one is certain what will appear in the "Implementer" of the  budget, our guess is "not much."  And we were correct!

Meanwhile, this will be the meeting where the new combined budget of former SWRPA and former HVCEO will be presented to the W E S T C O G board, electronically (they had it in advance, as the general public does, too!).  A necessary if not exciting meeting!

Does the new combined budget leave everyone "whole" or are there winners and losers for the 18 towns?  (For example, Darien will probably pay more in dues, because SWRPA formula included the SIZE-AREA of the member town - to compensate Darien for its density.)

We are reading the budget as proposed now...but FYI. it was approved.




MAY 2015


NEWTOWN MAY 21, 2015
Two hour meeting WCCOG met in Newtown...at former Fairfield Hills campus.
Extra notes:

  
FORMER FAIRFIELD HILLS STATE HOSPITAL
Council Chambers used for the WCCOG meeting.



I LIKED HIM FROM THE FIRST - TALKED DIRECTLY TO HIS AUDIENCE THE MEMBERS OF WCCOG
Commissioner of CT DOT explains "Let's Go CT"  and puts it in perspective and thankfully does it without Power Point.

   
AND THEN QUESTIONS
Following came his answers, and what it told me was that CT in indeed about to become a backwater - why do I feel this way? Because there are so many basic problems with our infrastructure that even if we fixed them and improved them CT would still be a backwater.  But that isn't necessarily a bad thing considering that Global Warming may eventually wash away infrastructure anyway!
                                 
  
STAMFORD ANNOUNCES IT IS WORKING ON CHANGING BYLAWS FOR SUBSTITUTES REPS TO WCCOG
The cities are perhaps growing antsy with the speed of action at WCCOG (Danbury's representative above)...we note that SWRPA, which gave the cities extra votes for population in formulating its board, nonetheless had most steady attendance from suburban towns.



      

...INFLUENTIAL NEWTOWN FIRST SELECTMAN, WHO ALWAYS SEEMS TO BE ON THE MONEY WITH HER POINTS, SAYS SHE WILL SUPPORT EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
New staff hires announced and argument for crossing regional boundaries to do "consulting" for Northern Hills COG going north once again debated and tabled.




APRIL 2015

     
WCCOG APRIL 16, 2015 IN DARIEN MATHER CENTER THURSDAY LUNCHTIME.  REPORT ON LEGISLATIVE SESSION HERE.

      
WCCOG - MOST ALL TOWNS PRESENT FOR 4th  OFFICIAL MEETING
Darien Town TV covers it.  On vimeo:  https://vimeo.com/125264179   .
Present:  New Fairfield, Sherman, Newtown, Bridgewater, Stamford, Bethel, Darien, Greenwich, Danbury, Brookfield, Redding, New Milford, Ridgefield, Norwalk, Westport  and maybe New Canaan?  HVCEO-area MPO met prior to the WCCOG meeting.

WCCOG meeting began by approving previous meeting minutes.  Next was invited guest speaker...


Capitol Region COG purchasing coo-op director speaks to WCCOG.



PUBLIC COMMENT #1: Stamford parking garage collapse - so when is it going to be fixed?  CTDOT responds as does Mayor Martin.  Too soon to know - could be weeks, could be never.  In any event, the traffic study for bus, shuttles and jitney service will not be impacted because they use trip modelling and computers nowadays for transportation planning and the specific traffic in the present situation does not apply.

   
And following up on Saturday, this story #2 on Commuter Council meeting Wednesday night on the Stamford garage status:  http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/More-questions-about-Stamford-s-transit-oriented-6207415.php

Stamford Advocate story #1 here
DOT staff gives news and Mayor defers to CTDOT.  They don't know yet how long it will take to repair if at all.  WCCOG action on closure of 1985 garage?  Not yet. 




PUBLIC COMMENT #2:  AN ACT CONCERNING PROPERTY TAX REFORM  - SB1136 to be heard Tuesday April 21 at 2pm LOB Room 2E - TEXT OF RAISED BILL ONLINE

 
WCCOG Mayors (and candidates elsewhere) of cities are not in favor of strong draft on property tax reform, and we'd bet, on PILOT or TOD.

Rep.Gail Lavielle reports to WCCOG:  HB6851, SB1 - morphs into a new form.  Features of both now to be included in AN ACT CONCERNING PROPERTY TAX REFORM 2pm Tuesday, April 21st public hearing, LOB Room 2E by Finance, Revenue and Bonding.

This includes the two big topics we've been mentioning - sharing the car tax.  Sharing regionally via a formula based on OPM criteria  PILOT replacement $$, plus giving regions the option to share tax revenue (i.e. hotel tax)...or who knows? As it is drafted the bill, IMO, leaves it to OPM to do the heavy lifting and make decisions - which is actually similar to SB880, but with short review time until Short Session to report out new policies.  Watch out for "Implementer Bill" again.

WORK FLOW ON COG AGENDA: 
Approve bills, studies and other necessary items to keep organization running.  Going forward:  First, where will staff work?  Second, what work will they be doing?

        

OFFICE LOCATION, HOW STAFF IMPACTED
Very interesting discussion, with both former regions' political leaders expressing concern about jumping into commitments until there has been an evaluation of staff  available to perform jobs already signed up for - the example being the Westport Bus Study.

          
COMING NEXT MONTH...IN THE FORMER HVCEO AREA
Next meeting, scheduled for Newtown, will have DOT Commissioner James P. Redeker plus Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.  And then they'll try to get through their agenda - so is this helping the local officials gain power in Hartford?  Actually, no.  Since the suburban towns are on one side of many issues and the cities on the other, regions can no longer speak in one voice unless they do like the League of Women Voters and take action only after consensus.  Which is very time consuming to try to achieve.




MARCH 2015

          
March 19, 2015 WCCOG MEETING
VICE CHAIR PRESIDING IN NEW MILFORD TOWN HALL COUNCIL CHAMBERS
What happened at the COG?  First it was a full agenda and they added items plus there was healthy discussion and vote to support opposition to  HB 6851 - About Town had been planning to say something in the Public Input section of the program, but we decided not to - and just as well, because although we were sure everyone was aware of it, mentioning such a hot topic early is never a good idea. 

HB 6851 is the Governor's bill to take away planning functions of municipalities and give them to an appointed authority - appointed by the Governor to include the Governor's and the Majority and Minority of both House and Senate...and give them eminent domain powers plus power ro bond...all along wide swathes along train tracks and I believe wording sufficiently vague as to apply to bus routes, too?  With a set back area too of "walking distance to the train type length???



      
TABLED ITEM OK'D
Two Stamford staff members present (one shown, left), along with WCCOG staff to explain why the study of bus, shuttle and jitney service near Stamford Transportation Center is needed.  CTDOT present (right) to support it, too.  No one mentioned the Urban Transitway project, but inquiring minds wonder if there is a connection?  And maybe the breaking news about Tuesday, April 14, 2015 closure of 1985 parking structure related, too?



           
LEGISLATIVE REPORT GIVEN BY WESTON RE:  TESTIMONY FROM C.O.S.T. ON BILL DISCUSSED BELOW...STAFF CHIPS IN NEW IDEAS ON STUDYING REGIONALISM.



       
Rep. Jason Rojas of P&D Committee

LEGISLATIVE REVIEW SKILLS OF FORMER TRANSPORTATION PLANNER, WHO MIGHT HAVE GIVEN THEM THE HEADS UP SOONER ON BILLS (LAST ITEM - ADDING STAFF)?  .
And they added items.  Plus there was healthy discussion and vote to support opposition to  HB 6851 - (About Town had been planning to say something in the Public Input section of the program, but we decided not to - and just as well, because although we were sure everyone was aware of it, mentioning such a hot topic early is never a good idea).  NEW BRITAIN-HARTFORD BUSWAY STORY - LANGUAGE USED IN BILL.

P&D BILLS COMING OUT OF COMMITTEE WE FOUND OUT ABOUT ON OUR OWN...THANKS REP. ROJAS (PICTURED ABOVE)!
HB 6851 is the Governor's bill to take away planning functions of municipalities and give them to an  appointed authority - appointed by the Governor to include the Governor's and the Majority and Minority of both House and Senate...and give them eminent domain powers plus power ro bond...all along wide swathes of train tracks with a set back area too...more later.  S.B.1 is the state-wide "car tax" idea.


Lawmakers walk back transit plan
Alex Gecan, Danbury News-Times
Published 2:04 pm, Saturday, March 21, 2015

After backlash from state lawmakers over a perceived overreach of eminent domain, a joint committee may walk back key provisions in the governor's proposal to create a new Transit Corridor Development Authority.

State Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, who co-chairs the Planning and Development Committee of the General Assembly, announced Friday that the Office of Policy and Management had helped tailor Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's proposal, striking the section that would have empowered the authority to seize property near transit sites.

Among other alterations, Osten's office wrote that "language is added that clarifies that municipal zoning, subdivision or wetland regulations apply for developments on private or municipal land, just under current law." But it is unclear whether that language will empower the state to ignore the wishes of local zoning authorities on property the state owns, such as the parcel at Stamford's train station.

"Part of the lawmaking process is to receive a proposal, get public input on it and make it better. I believe that's what we've done in this case," Osten said in a statement Friday.

"I had conversations with Sen. Osten about it and she told me what she was doing, and we had discussions about it," said state Sen. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, the Senate majority leader.

"I think that having the eminent domain piece of it taken out is important, as well as the other changes that were made today," Duff said. "I think they address many, if not all, the concerns that people have on the substance of the legislation."



SWRPA BROUGHT A "DOWRY" TO THE NEW REGION - WHICH IS PAYING FOR GIS OF FORMER HVCEO AREA
And the usual discussion of how the two organizations in previous lives have been meshing...and then it was gone to a later Exec Committee session for real estate.  After running over until 2:45pm instead of 1:30pm.  Which made me even more pleased (it was an excellent meeting) that I had not taken up time during Public Input...next month in Darien.




FEBRUARY 2015


City of Danbury couldn't get on the meeting, so they stayed close to the Chairman's cell phone.
Telephonic meeting for the Mayors and First Selectmen - former SWR officials called in;  the public had to show up in person (we asked and were told we had to show up).

TABLED:  STAMFORD $750,000 BUS AND SHUTTLE STUDY STALLED BY COG

The second meeting of the Western Connecticut Council of Governments, Thursday Feb. 19, 2015 at 12:30pm, was by telephone.  Staff asked for approval to move ahead on study of bus and shuttle study, continuing work that had already been begun.

Mayors and First Selectmen effectively demanded a presentation from a representative from Stamford before they would take this matter up. 

Rather embarrassing for the COG, I would think, considering that the former HVCEO towns met in Danbury City Hall and couldn't get onto the  conference call arrangement - so they had to call in via Bethel First Selectman's cell phone.  New Canaan, Norwalk and Stamford absent for the second time in a row.  An unidentified individual from the Danbury City Hall location noted during "Public Comment" after About Town had spoken up, professionally, supporting the Stamford study, that this form of "meeting" was not what she had thought COG meetings should be like - of course, it is possible I didn't hear that clearly!!!  

CTDOT representative was on the telephone call, and no doubt has reported this discussion and vote (below).

VOTE: 14 "yes" to "Table" to 1 "no" (Wilton - who did not think there was good reason to delay the matter, and staff  could fill them in next month).  Until the Mayor of Stamford or his staff explain to the WCCOG why they need @$750,000 study paid for by the State of CT and the feds...a follow-on from a previous study...no action.

Another telephonic meeting in the offing?  If there is to be one, what are the public notice rules on that???




JANUARY 2015

January 22, 2015:  New and better Exec. Director hired after grilling.  Seems to understand CT planning process, is internet savvy and has stamina, something previous choice did not have.

WCCOG MOVING FORWARD!  A WONDERFUL IDEA IN THE END!  First Selectman of Bethel Chair. of WCCOG.  Now that's a farm (acres and acres and buildings in good repair).

NOTES:
The WCCOG lunchtime in Sherman, CT - agenda here.  A new Executive Director was hired (above left) - and we actually saw this town farm in the flesh!!!  Looks better in person even!


REQUESTS PRESENTED...
Ridgefield Health Department up for a six figure grant to fight Lyme Disease - gets COG's support.  Others came forward on other matters, too.  Agenda included many of the things, house-keeping variety, that had been done at the previous meeting in December because of Exec. Director re-start.  We note that 4 requests for attention came from towns and  entities dealing with COG towns and interests.  These had taken place not at SWRPA but at the MPO in the past - HVCEO had taken care of this kind of thing all along. 


LEADERSHIP AND SHARP QUESTIONING VERY IMPRESSIVE BY ALL;  PLANNING AND ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF SHARP

It is good to have leadership skills.  The sense of authority that Mayors and First Selectmen have is a clear difference to the way regional planning has gone on in SWRPA - the staff seems to work for the Board - which they did in the RPA format, but appointed members representing someone else were more deferential to the professionals.  SWRPA called the shots and supported the professional staff.  At least on paper! We are not being critical, only seeking to encourage respect always for professional planners.

NEXT MEETING OF WCCOG:  Greenwich, February 19, 2015.




NOVEMBER 2014

November 2014; new Executive Director resigns in December:  Follow WCCOG progress here:  http://www.westernctcog.org/

WCCOG Thursday, November 20, 2014, Wilton Town Hall pix...
Legislative breakfast questions OK'd.  Secretary of WCCOG is Sue Chapman from New Fairfield (second from the left). Staff from Stamford, Norwalk and Danbury as well as Sherman (?).


NEW VICE-CHAIR.
At the second meeting of the Western Connecticut  Council of Governments (“WCCOG”) (not yet fully functioning...SWRPA still exists until Dec. 31st!), held in the Wilton Town Hall, Weston's First Selectwoman Gayle Weinstein was elected Treasurer of WCCOG.  Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker to be Chairman, Jamie Stevenson of Darien Vice-Chair.  See above for Secretary!

WCCOG JOINT LEGISLATIVE BREAKFAST is being scheduled we think in December in lieu of aWCCOG meeting, but we didn't quite pick up when or where.  Two legislators were present – Gail Lavielle of Wilton/Norwalk/Westport and Jonathan Steinberg of Westpor/Norwalk.

Forming "Regional Planning Committee" to study if having one is a good idea to do referrals opposed by New Milford's First Selectwoman Pat Murphy.  However it was pointed out that the Committee had to be appointed because doing so was in the new bylaws - whether a full Regional Planning Commission will be formed ultimately is unlikely, as the 10 members of HVCEO towns, who have not done referrals, outnumber the 8 town in soon to be extinct SWRPA, which has done referrals and kept records of them for many years (good for historical knowledge...too bad that won't continue).


NO ALTERNATES FOR THESE!
Weston, Greenwich and Newtown, above.

Selectman Weinstein reported on a suggested short group of primary concerns chosen by representative on a small subcommittee including officials from former SWRPA and HVCEO towns.  There was a written document but it was not available to About Town.  Included on the “menu” were topics such as alternative and affordable housing, prevailing wage and need to protect the watershed.  Others will be added, I think, just to remind the legislators of their importance – but not emphasized.


EURIKA
Rudi Marconi of Ridgefield was the person who added the watershed item.

Dates and town locations for the 2015 year of meetings (until they have a joint office in place) T.B.A.  However, it is expected to hold the Jan. 22, 2015 meeting in Sherman Town Hall (Census 2000 - @3800 people in 28 sqmi) This is rural.




OCTOBER 2014


WCCOG first meeting in Ridgefield Town Hall, Oct. 23, 2014;
  it was noted that Norwalk and three other towns from HVCEO have not yet voted to join.


WCCOG FIRST MEETING HELD IN RIDGEFIELD TOWN HALL OCTOBER 23, 2014
Picture story by About Town;  we found a link to everything we might want to know about census "quick data" - I finally figured out how to download it!


FIRST MEETING OF WCCOG (merged SWRPA-HVCEO - check the RCOG page at UCONN).
AND THEY"RE OFF!!!  First Selectman of Bethel presiding in former HVCEO location (r).  Is existing staff from former SWRPA-HVCEO perhaps in line for new job - Deputy Director of WCCOG?

A quorum was present, first motion and debate about new Executive Director - hired!  And so the meeting proceeded - more CEO's camein  a bit later;  parking almost "valet-style" at Ridgefield Town Hall!  FYI - very convenient location for About Town!  Next meeting Nov. 20, 2014, same time, same routine (12 noon lunch, 12:30pm meeting) in Wilton Town Hall.


THE WEDDING OF SWRPA AND HVCEO
Under the watchful eye of OPM, WCCOG meets in Ridgefield Oct. 23, 2014.  Center, SWRPA brings a dowry to the new entity in GIS funding...Ridgefield supplies recording.

For online casual user, the Census Bureau only provides information for more densely populated places, showing only 12,942 population for Greenwich "CDP" (Total population for Greenwich @61,000 in Census 2000) and not listing anything at all online for Weston!  Density is king!

AS IT HAPPENED:
A case of who made the seating arrangements?  No place cards that I saw!  It seemed to be that they tried the "alternating group" method...except that there were more of one than the other!


Who are these First Selectmen?  Mayor Mark of Danbury sizes up Mayor David of Stamford (First Selectman Rob of New Canaan obscured).  First Selectmen Pat and Peter...

Mayor David of Stamford had a lot to say, and to the right, First Selectman of Redding.  The Mayor of Stamford began a discussion about Ebola under "other" items.  First Selectmen of Darien, Weston, made excellent points. Host Rudi Marconi of Ridgefield took care of lights and air conditioning and also the luncheon earlier.  At right is Norwalk's representative, waiting for MPO meeting.


CONNECTICUT DATA CENTER LINK FOR WCCOG: 
http://blogs.lib.uconn.edu/outsidetheneatline/2014/10/21/regional-council-of-governments-census-data-browser/

TOWNS FROM HVCEO:  10 towns

Ridgefield:
Redding
Bethel
Newtown
Danbury
Brookfield
Bridgewater
New Fairfield
Sherman
New Milford

TOWNS FROM SWRPA: 8 towns

Greenwich
Stamford
New Canaan
Darien
Norwalk
Wilton
Weston
Westport

-----------------

State of Connecticut "Quick" Census Facts

U.S. Census shortlist:  http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=bkmk





Near Weston’s Saugatuck Reservoir: Neighbors appeal use of shooting range
Weston FORUM
By Patricia Gay on September 26, 2014

Neighbors of a gun range on Valley Forge Road have filed an appeal with the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA).

Ian and Mari Lewis are claiming the range, which is used by local police departments for occasional gun practice, is causing disruption to the enjoyment of their home and violates the town’s zoning regulations.

The matter is scheduled to be heard by the ZBA on Tuesday, Oct. 28.

In their appeal, the Lewises claim that within days of moving into their home on Valley Forge Road this past May, they heard loud, often deafening gunfire emanating from Aquarion property across the road at the Saugatuck Reservoir and below the Samuel P. Senior Dam.

They learned that Aquarion, which also sold them their home, allows the Weston, Westport, and Redding police departments to use the area for target and shooting practice a few weeks out of the year...


For full story:  http://www.thewestonforum.com/21700/near-westons-saugatuck-reservoir-neighbors-appeal-use-of-shooting-range/


Regional efficiency attempt
North Stonington, Preston officials seek areas for towns to cooperate

By Kelly Catalfamo, Day Staff Writer
Article published Sep 25, 2014

North Stonington - The North Stonington and Preston boards of selectmen held a joint meeting last week to discuss opportunities for regionalizing services between the towns...

The boards "determined (that) there was a great similarity between the towns" and their governmental structure, said North Stonington First Selectman Nicholas Mullane....left the 90-minute meeting with a plan to form a joint committee to explore possible areas of cooperation, including sharing an ethics commission, dog pound or fire marshal, among other things. He said the committee would consist of four volunteers from each town who do not currently hold town office or sit on boards or commissions.  If the two towns do collaborate and all goes well, Mullane said, they will consider inviting Voluntown or other similar municipalities to join them.

A shared ethics commission seems like a viable starting point, Mullane said. Currently, Preston has a commission but North Stonington does not. A joint commission, he said, would allow North Stonington residents to investigate Preston complaints and vice versa, reducing the potential of biased judgments...

Story in full here:  http://www.theday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20140925/NWS01/309259597/-1/NWS&template=printart



Regional football, regional policing, regional deer hunting, regional schools, next?  Oh, they exist in statute already!


SPECIAL BOARD OF SELECTMEN WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2014 AT 7:30pm TOWN HALL MEETING ROOM: 



ELSEWHERE



BACKGROUND ARTICLE HERE
Here's an interesting story about regionalism - Stratford Sewage Treatment Plant to be purchased by...New Haven.




Plans for Bridgwater’s first alcohol-serving restaurant move forward
Danbury News-Times
By Susan Tuz
Updated 9:42 pm, Sunday, October 11, 2015

BRIDGEWATER — A public hearing is scheduled for this week as approval plans move forward for the town’s first restaurant to serve alcohol.

Bridgewater Village Store representatives are requesting a special permit to convert the store’s former bank space into a cafe that will serve alcohol. The public hearing before the Planning & Zoning Commission continues at 7 p.m. Thursday in the parish house at the Bridgewater Congregational Church, 10 Clapboard Road.

Greg Bollard, vice president of Bridgewater Village Store Inc., will present the application, which calls for renovations and expanding the existing store and cafe with parking and a new sewage-disposal system...story in full:  http://www.newstimes.com/news/article/Plans-for-Bridgwater-s-first-alcohol-serving-6565122.php






FEDERALLY FUNDED PILOT PROJECT FOR  BOOTHLESS TOLLS - REQUIRING COG EXPANSION OR JUST COOPERATION?

 
Connecticut Approved For Federal Highway Toll Pilot Project
Hartford Courant
March 2, 2015

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The Federal Highway Administration has approved Connecticut for a pilot program installing an electronic toll system.

The pilot program for so-called value-pricing bypasses a federal ban on federal highway tolls by offering an exemption that allows certain types of electronic tolls.

Value-pricing, or congestion pricing as it's sometimes called, assigns values for trips at different times and places for different motorists to encourage driving at different times and places to reduce congestion....story in full:  http://www.courant.com/politics/capitol-watch/hc-connecticut-approved-for-federal-highway-toll-pilot-project-funds-20150302-story.html



Danbury mayor envisions the city of the future
Danbury News-Times
By Rob Ryser
Updated 5:49 pm, Friday, January 9, 2015

DANBURY -- The city of the future might have sensors perched like birds on every street corner to dim the lights when no one is around and send out alerts when a parking spot opens or a garbage can is full.

It might have solar panels on every roof and wind turbines on Interstate 84.

But to meet the challenges of the next decade, to serve a growing population with a workforce the city can't afford to increase, the real change will have to be in the way city employees work. They will have to make up for their limited numbers with efficiency, innovation and resourcefulness...story in full:  http://www.newstimes.com/local/article/Danbury-mayor-envisions-the-city-of-the-future-6005127.php#photo-7368849




Ordinance panel sets hearing on joining COG
By ROBERT KOCH, Hour Staff Writer
Posted: Tuesday, October 21, 2014 10:30 pm | Updated: 1:03 pm, Wed Oct 22, 2014.

NORWALK -- Members of the Common Council's Ordinance Committee on Tuesday evening plugged their noses and voted to schedule a public hearing on a proposal to have Norwalk join the Western Connecticut Council of Local Governments (COG).

A COG would put transportation, housing and other inter-municipal issues under the direct leadership of chief-elected officials.

If the council were to approve the regionalization proposal, Norwalk would join 17 other municipalities, including Housatonic Valley communities, to address such issues.

Under a new state law, towns have until Jan. 1, 2015, to join a COG and thus replace their representation through the South Western Regional Planning Agency (SWRPA)...story in full here:  http://www.thehour.com/news/nw-city_council/ordinance-panel-sets-hearing-on-joining-cog/article_bc7f864e-54d8-5064-a544-05add9c58744.html



Local Council of Governments receives grant for study of regional services
DAY
By Kimberly Drelich
Published October 21. 2014 3:58PM
Updated October 21. 2014 4:02PM

Norwich — The Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments is slated to receive $150,000 for a study and plan for regional shared services. SCCOG was one of several recipients of state grants for regional planning councils announced on Tuesday.

The proposed study “would examine current activities of the region’s 19 towns, develop a comprehensive plan and model for regional shared services, staff and equipment, and identify potential cost savings that could result from implementing the plan,” according to a state news release...story in full here:  http://www.theday.com/article/20141021/NWS01/141029951/1047






Videotape can be made available of this Symposium
Regional Planning Organizations:  Better Use of a Hidden Asset
The Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations ("ACIR") sponsored the following meeting: a half-day symposium for Municipal, Regional and State Government stakeholders on issues related to enhancing the roles and functions of Connecticut's Regional Planning Organizations.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004
8am - 12:45pm
Holiday Inn, North Haven
Exit 12 off I-91

NOTE:  A dozen years later some names are still with us working on this issue and others have left us.