“We said we weren’t happy with the process,” Geragosian said Monday.
Neither were environmental advocates.
“Permitting development on class I water company lands is a tragic abuse of Connecticut’s exceptional water company land protections,” Julie Belaga, co-chair of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters said in a press release.
Specifically the bill allows the three towns to lease 131 acres of land to Tilcon for a period of 40 years. Tilcon will pay the towns to lease the land. New Britain will get about $15 million.
While local legislators weren’t happy with the process, Geragosian said they were successful in getting several safeguards into the bill. For example, the legislation requires an environmental evaluation to assess the potential impact on the “purity and adequacy of the existing and future public water supply.” The environmental evaluation will include a public comment period and require review by New Britain’s Mayor and City Council.
“After such public hearing said mayor shall recommend to the Common Council of said city approval or disapproval of the lease and contract,” the bill states. In addition, after the 40 year lease the land reverts back to the towns, Geragosian said.
But environmental advocates were still concerned about the precedent the bill sets.
“The bill not only promotes mining in watershed lands, it condones land conveyance with a no-bid contract, and all of this was introduced covertly in the last hours of the legislative session in an apparent attempt to avoid public scrutiny and public debate,” Margaret Miner, executive director of Rivers Alliance of Connecticut, said.