(photo) Sen. Formica Backs Effort to Protect CT Lands

February 22, 2016

Sen. Paul Formica (pictured) on Feb. 19 testified before the state legislature’s Environment Committee in support of a first-of-its-kind effort to better ensure protection of state-owned forests, parks, farmland and other conservation lands.

“I once proudly served as East Lyme’s First Selectman,” Formica said. “In that role, I was a staunch supporter of preserving open space in town. I also was able to see up close how preservation promises can be put at risk whenever there’s a new proposal by a developer to buy state conservation land or swap it for other properties. It makes sense for us to pass measures at the state level to ensure that those preservation promises are kept.”

Formica urged support of an amendment to the state Constitution regarding land preservation. The amendment would require:

  • A 2/3 vote by each legislative chamber in order for open space to be sold
  • A public hearing be held in the town or towns where the lands are located.
  • Any legislation allowing for the sale of an open space property must be a standalone bill. “This will prevent sales from being incorporated into much larger conveyance or budget implementer bills, which are often rushed through the legislature,” Formica said.
  • All money received for any transfer, sale or conversion of land must be used solely to replace it with similar land to be used for open space, parks, forests or farms. The new land acquired by the state must be similar in conservation, recreation, or agricultural value to the land being sold. It also must be in as close proximity as possible. In addition, the fair market value of any land sold must be appropriated in the same bill that authorizes the sale to pay for the state’s acquisition of similar open space.

“This is an idea that I believe will have support from Democrats and Republicans,” Formica said. “Preserving and protecting our lands for future generations is an effort we can all get behind, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”