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Coastal Vulnerability ad hoc Working Group

ON DECEMBER 4, 2019 THE BOARD OF SELECTMEN APPROVED THE CREATION OF A COASTAL VULNERABILITY AD HOC WORKING GROUP, AS RECOMMENDED BY THE 2018 PLAN OF CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT, TO WORK IN COORDINATION WITH TOWN STAFF TO RESEARCH AND RECOMMEND PROACTIVE RESPONSES TO THE ENVIRONMENTAL CHALLENGES FACING BRANFORD’S COASTLINE UTILIZING BOTH CIVIL ENGINEERING MITIGATION PROJECTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CHANGES IN BEHAVIOR THAT MAY REQUIRE NEW OR REVISED ORDINANCES, REGULATIONS AND CHANGES IN LAND USE.

Background - Climate change is one of the most significant problems that society is facing. Sea level rise and the increasing severity of coastal storms are two aspects of climate change that will have direct negative impacts on Branford’s coastal neighborhoods and on the welfare of Branford as a community.  The entire town of Branford will be impacted - without distinction in terms of private and public, individual and commercial, shoreline and inland. A coordinated response will be to the benefit of all.

Challenges - The Town of Branford will need to develop detailed long-term projections of the potential impacts of coastal vulnerability on municipal infrastructure (town-owned roads and sewers, public utilities) and a plan to guide future land-use decisions in areas that are vulnerable to sea level rise and severe coastal storms.  A list of civil engineering projects to potentially mitigate coastal vulnerability effects will need to be generated and managed. 

Branford’s Coastal Resiliency Plan of 2016 -The first step in this process has been completed thru the CRP of 2016. This plan was prepared under a Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) grant awarded to the Town of Branford for coastal resilience planning in conjunction with Madison, and Milford, Connecticut.  The plan was prepared by Milone & MacBroom, Inc. with assistance from Dewberry under the direction of the Town of Branford.

The mission of the CVWG will be to work with town staff to build on the reports and studies currently available to develop proactive prioritized responses to these challenges thru both civil engineering mitigation projects and recommendations for changes in behavior that may require new or revised ordinances, regulations and changes in land use. 

Branford’s Coastal Resiliency Fund - In February 2019 Finance Director Jim Finch and First Selectman Jamie Cosgrove created the Branford Coastal Resiliency Fund pursuant to approval by the Board of Finance and RTM. The town seeded the fund with $1 million from undesignated fund balance and continues to make annual appropriations of $300,000.

During the creation of the fund the Finance Director and First Selectman, were aware that current state law largely prohibited municipalities from investing in assets designed to achieve superior growth over longer periods of time. Seeking a legislative remedy, they worked with State Senator Christine Cohen to draft and propose Senate Bill 1062: An Act Authorizing Municipal Climate Change and Coastal Resiliency Reserve Funds which was signed into law by Governor Ned Lamont in July 2019.

This law reflects the belief that future exposures and costs associated with climate change represent a long-term liability, and the prudent approach, therefore, is to begin the process of funding and investing assets today to address this liability. This approach seeks to match the assets to the liabilities while providing an added funding source to supplement more conventional methods such as bonding and grants.  The fund will used to address a variety of needs as outlined in the town’s Coastal Resiliency Plan. (see link below)

CVWG Goals: Immediate goals for the CVWG are to further the following:

  • Outreach and Communication – develop community wide and neighborhood presentations to expand awareness of existing documents, existing problem statements and existing potential solutions. 
  • Develop a Resiliency Action database – organize the list of vulnerabilities and potential actions identified in Branford’s Coastal Resilience Plan, the Hazard Mitigation Plan, and SCROG’s Regional Framework for Coastal Resilience Plan into a manageable searchable database of recommended projects and actions.
  • Research and develop a base of knowledge in relevant legal, zoning, and funding issues that will impact implementation of resiliency actions.

Last Updated: Tue, 02/09/2021 - 1:36pm