Public hearing set in Weston for new ordinances, amendments

On Thursday, Oct. 4, the Weston Board of Selectmen will hold a public hearing on two new proposed municipal ordinances and two amendments that have been put forth by various town commissions and recently approved by the board.

The public hearing will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the meeting room of Weston Town Hall.

The two new proposed ordinances concern environmental topics, while the two amendments pertain to ordinances that govern the town’s enforcement abilities.

Another proposed amendment — one banning the transportation or use of fracking byproducts in Weston — is expected to go before the selectmen later this fall.

The first new ordinance, Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System, would regulate non-storm-related discharges to the town’s municipal separate storm sewer system, also known as “MS4.” It aims to prevent the release of pollutants into the stormwater-drainage system. It is part of a federal initiative called the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES).

Among its provisions, the ordinance would prohibit illegal connections and discharges to the storm-sewer system and would authorize a system of inspections, surveillance and monitoring by a town code enforcement officer. These include places where the drainage system enters area brooks and other streams, which in turn carrier stormwater to rivers and the Long Island Sound.

“Basically, this ordinance aims to keep our stormwater clean before it enters other, larger bodies of water,” said Weston Town Administrator Jonathan Luiz. “Regulations and requirements regarding stormwater have become more demanding in recent years, and these kinds of ordinances in towns aim to address that.”

One example of an “illicit connection or discharge” would be a basement sump pump or an appliance such as a clothing or dishwasher emptying its wastewater into a pipe that in turn empties into a street gutter. This in turn would go into the storm drain and introduce contaminants into storm water.

The second proposed ordinance, Retail Checkout Bags, would prohibit single-use plastic shopping bags by commercial establishments in Weston.

In proposing the ordinance, the town’s Select Committee on Sustainability said these plastic shopping bags are an environmental nuisance and very few of them can be recycled. They claim the bags also add to the town’s waste-disposal costs, and similar ordinances in other Connecticut towns have proved to be effective at reducing — if not eliminating — such bags.

The Select Committee on Sustainability discussed this matter in-depth at its Sept. 19 meeting, and reviewed proposals for design contests for the reusable bags that will take the place of single-use bags.

Amendments

Amendments to two ordinances will also be discussed at the public hearing. “The other two ordinances provide ‘teeth’ to our town’s system of penalties for violating its ordinances,” Luiz said. “Basically, in addition to saying ‘you can’t do that,’ we are telling people that if they do, they could have penalties such as a fine.”

The first proposal would amend Chapter 39 of the town code governing zoning and inland wetlands. It would impose a fine of $150 for each cited violation and aim to enable the town of Weston to better enforce its inland wetlands and watercourses regulations.

The second proposal would amend Chapter 145 of the code, giving the town enforcement authority over code violations for unregistered and abandoned motor vehicles.

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