Attorney General: Honorable Joseph J. McGee, Department of Economic Development, 1994-024 Formal Opinion, Attorney General of Connecticut

Attorney General's Opinion

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal

September 1, 1994

Honorable Joseph J. McGee
Commissioner
Department of Economic Development
865 Brook Street
Rocky Hill, Connecticut 06067-3405

Dear Commissioner McGee:

This is in response to your request for an opinion regarding Public Act 94-241 ("the Act") authorizing the establishment of "enterprise corridor zones" by three or more contiguous municipalities with the approval of the Commissioner of Economic Development. Businesses located within approved enterprise corridor zones receive the same tax benefits as those located in enterprise zones. Public Act 94-241  1(e). In order to be eligible for this program at least fifty percent of the contiguous municipalities must be located along the same interstate or limited access state highway, each municipality must have a population of 30,000 or less and each must be a "public investment community" as defined in section 7-545 of the general statutes. Your question concerns the latter requirement that each municipality must be a public investment community.

Conn. Gen. Stat.  7-545 defines public investment communities as those which are in the top quarter of municipalities ranked according to an "eligibility index" set out in the statute. Conn. Gen. Stat.  7-545  (a)(8) and (9). On or before July 1 of each year, the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management is required to prepare a list of Connecticut municipalities in accordance with the eligibility index and grants may be provided to public investment communities with the approval of the Commissioner of Economic Development. Conn. Gen. Stat.  7-546(b) then provides:

Each public investment community determined to be eligible for a grant under sections 7-545 to 7-547, inclusive, in any year shall continue to be eligible during the four years next succeeding the year in which such public investment community was determined to be eligible.

Your specific question is whether this four year window applies to the requirement that in establishing an enterprise corridor zone each municipality must be a public investment community. For the following reasons we find that the term "public investment community" does include the four year eligibility period in Conn. Gen. Stat.  7-546(b).

It is a cardinal rule of construction that statutes must be construed to give effect to the intent of the legislature. State v. Parmlee, 197 Conn. 158, 161 (1985) quoting, State v. Campbell, 180 Conn. 557,561 (1980). Where the language of a statute is plain and unambiguous, legislative intent must be ascertained from the language incorporated in the act alone. Beloff v. Progressive Casualty Co., 203 Conn. 45, 54 (1987). In doing so, however, the statutory scheme should be interpreted as a whole, reconciling its separate parts in order to render a reasonable overall interpretation. Red Rooster Const. Co. v. River Associates, Inc., 224 Conn. 563, 570 (1992), Ruskewich v. Commissioner of Revenue Services, 213 Conn. 19, 25 (1989). Finally, a statute must also be construed in a manner that will not thwart its intended purpose, and a construction that fails to attain a rational and sensible result must be avoided. Turner v. Turner, 219 Conn. 703, 713 (1991).

The enterprise zone legislation is centered around the concept of developing and implementing long-term strategies for attracting businesses to targeted areas. This need for the long-term development and implementation of geographically based economic development plans provides the basis for the four-year period of eligibility set forth in Conn. Gen. Stat.  7-546(b). Such an extended period of eligibility provides the necessary stability and time critical to the successful implementation of a zone's strategy and the subsequent attainment of its desired economic benefits.

Like Conn. Gen. Stat.  7-546, Public Act 94-241 sets forth a means for establishing long-term economic aid to particular geographic areas. Consistent with this long-term economic development strategy, municipalities seeking approval of an enterprise corridor zone are required to execute an inter-municipal agreement specifying a plan for cooperatively sharing in marketing, promotion and development of the industrial districts that would comprise the enterprise corridor zone. Public Act 94-241,  1(c). Clearly, basing the determination of eligibility of each municipality on an annual review of whether it meets the public investment community criteria for that year would significantly undermine any effort to reach an inter-municipal agreement and create an enterprise corridor zone.

In summary, reading Public Act 94-241 in the context of the entire statutory scheme establishing enterprise zones and their attendant long-term economic development goals, the definition of "public investment community," for purpose of reviewing the qualifications for establishing an enterprise corridor zone, includes the four year eligibility period set forth in Conn. Gen. Stat.  7-546(b).

I trust that this answers your question.

Very truly yours,

RICHARD BLUMENTHAL
ATTORNEY GENERAL


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