The next RTM meeting is on Tuesday, June 5th at 7:30 pm in Town Hall (110 Myrtle Avenue). You can watch the meetings on Cablevision channel 79, Frontier channel 99, or online here. You can see the official agenda by clicking here. Disclaimer: What’s below is my interpretation of the agenda and not an official communication from the RTM.
The RTM will discuss the following issues:
- The first reading of a proposed amendment to Westport’s Waterway Protection Line Ordinance,
- The first reading of a proposed ordinance banning fracking waste and fracking-waste byproducts in Westport,
- Whether to approve the Westport County Playhouse’s application under the Neighborhood Assistance Act Tax Credit Program,
- Whether to accept an anonymous donation of $200,000 to the Police Department to be used for the renovation in agenda item #5 below,
- Whether to approve a $360,000 appropriation (which would be net $160,000 due to agenda item #4) for renovations and upgrades to the Police Department’s locker rooms,
- Whether to approve a $28,530 appropriation for overtime, supplies, and vehicle maintenance expenses incurred by the Police Department due to the March winter storms and a security incident at Staples High School,
- Whether to approve a $59,539.02 appropriation for overtime and vehicle maintenance expenses incurred by the Fire Department due to the March winter storms, and
- Whether to approve a $418,562 appropriation for overtime, third-party clean-up services, and other expenses incurred by the Public Works Department due to the March winter storms.
AGENDA ITEM #1: The first reading of a proposed amendment to Westport’s Waterway Protection Line Ordinance
Alicia Mozian, Westport’s Conservation Director has requested an amendment to Section 30-91 of the Waterway Protection Line Ordinance (“WPLO”). The stated purpose of the amendment is to make the time requirements for scheduling, reviewing, and deciding WPLO applications consistent with the time requirements in the state statutes for Inland Wetland and Watercourse (“IWW”) applications.
By way of background, the Conservation Commission often reviews development applications under both the WPLO and the IWW. The proposed amendment is noted in red below.
Written applications to conduct a regulated activity shall be filed with the Conservation Department. Applications for regulated activities that are not permitted pursuant to Section 30-90 shall be considered by the Flood and Erosion Control Board and the Conservation Commission. Only those regulated activities that are not permitted pursuant to Section 30-90 will require the approval by both the Flood and Erosion Control Board and the Conservation Commission. Only completed applications, on the form supplied by the Town, shall be considered by the Flood and Erosion Control Board and the Conservation Commission. Failure of an applicant or his or her representative to sufficiently answer inquiries at a meeting of either the Flood and Erosion Control Board or Conservation Commission may be sufficient grounds for denial of an application. Each body shall render a written decision to the RTM Moderator within
15200 days after the secondfirst regularly scheduled meeting following the date the application is filed. Each body shall notify the applicant by certified mail of its decision within 15 days from the date of the decision. Failure of either body to act within the prescribed time period shall be deemed an approval of the application by that body.
In a memo to the RTM in support of the amendment, Ms. Mozian cited Blum Shapiro’s recommendation that the town “amend the local WPLO ordinance to align with State requirements” as part of its audit of the land use permitting process. Doing so might “result in less applications being withdrawn or denied simply due to a lack of available review time by the Commission” and “will allow the applicants more time to make necessary revisions and modifications and supply needed information.”
AGENDA ITEM #2: The first reading of a proposed ordinance banning fracking waste and fracking-waste byproducts
The RTM Environment Committee voted unanimously to recommend that the RTM pass an ordinance banning fracking waste. The proposed ordinance can be read in its entirety here, and it is excerpted below.
1. The application of natural gas waste or oil waste, whether or not such waste has received Beneficial Use Determination or other approval for use by DEEP (Department of Energy & Environmental Protection) or any other regulatory body, on any road or real property located within the Town for any purpose is prohibited.
2. The introduction of natural gas waste or oil waste into any wastewater treatment facility within or operated by the Town is prohibited.
3. The introduction of natural gas waste or oil waste into any solid waste management facility within or operated by the Town is prohibited.
4. The storage, disposal, sale, acquisition, transfer, handling, treatment and/or processing of waste from natural gas or oil extraction is prohibited within the Town.
As of May 11, 2018, 43 other municipalities in Connecticut, including Stamford (article here), have enacted similar bans for public health and safety reasons. An almost identical ban was proposed in Greenwich and their RTM has yet to vote on the ordinance.
AGENDA ITEM #3: Whether to approve the Westport County Playhouse’s application under the Neighborhood Assistance Act
The 2018 Neighborhood Assistance Act (“NAA”) allows businesses to receive a corporate State tax credit when they make a donation to certain non-profit programs. To create a program that would be eligible for such donations, a non-profit submits a program proposal for approval to its town and, if approved, then to the state for consideration.
In its application, the Westport County Playhouse proposes replacing its current lighting with LED lighting. Under the NAA, 100% of donations to qualifying programs related to energy conservation are eligible for corporate State tax credits, subject to certain caps including a limit of $150,000 per qualifying program.
AGENDA ITEMS #4 and #5: Whether to (1) accept an anonymous donation of $200,000 to the Police Department to be used for the renovations and upgrades to the Police Department’s locker rooms, and (2) appropriate the $360,000 (which would be net $160,000 due to the donation) to carry out this project
An individual that wishes to remain anonymous has donated $200,000 to the Police Department for the renovation of the locker rooms. The locker rooms were last renovated in 1980. At that time, there was only one female officer. Today there are 14. The officers also carry different equipment today, including work phones, tasers, body cameras, police radios, and body armor. The proposed renovation will address these issues by expanding the women’s locker room and installing appropriate charging stations, ventilation, and more secure storage capabilities in each officer’s locker. In addition the renovation would include updating the entire space with the appropriate ductwork, HVAC, electrical, plumbing, masonry, and security features.
AGENDA ITEMS#6, #7, and #8: Whether to approve $28,530, $59,539.02, and $418, 562 appropriations for the Police Department, Fire Department, and Public Works Departments, respectively, for expenses incurred due to the March winter storms and, for the Police Department, additional expenses incurred due to a security incident at Staples High School
The Police, Fire, and Public Works Departments have already incurred most of the expenses that are the basis for the proposed appropriations. The expenses are broken out into categories below. The only added detail of particular note is that the Police Department is anticipating receiving restitution of approximately $8,184 for costs related to the security incident at Staples High School (for more information on the nature of what occurred, see here). If received, that payment would then revert back to the general town funds.
Disclaimer: What’s above is my interpretation of the agenda and not an official communication from the RTM.