Committee continues review of affordable housing bill

By Dave Fidlin | The Center Square

Parking accommodations and density requirements were among some of the granular details a Vermont legislative panel reviewed on Tuesday as a draft bill aimed at increasing affordable housing options across the state went back under the microscope.

The Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing, and General Affairs began looking at a marked-up copy of an omnibus housing bill, with further deliberations slated for later this week.

State Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale, D-Chittenden, who chairs the committee, introduced the bill.

Kesha Ram Hinsdale

Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale, D-Chittenden,

During Tuesday’s comb-through, the five-person committee gave the bill a name: “An act relating to housing opportunities made for everyone.”

Ram Hinsdale’s statement of purpose for the legislation includes a three-prong set of conceptual goals: increasing the supply of affordable housing, promoting home ownership, and broadening housing opportunities.

The bill, if adopted as drafted, would place new requirements on established municipalities and districts across Vermont.

Any taxing entity with municipal water and sewer infrastructure in place that allows for residential development could be required to establish within local ordinances lot and building dimensional standards that allow at least five dwelling units per acre.

At a minimum, the municipalities and districts meeting such criteria would have to make accommodations through zoning for two- and four-unit developments within a specified area of the community.

“You can’t zone out two- or four-unit developments because you don’t like them,” Ram Hinsdale said.

Ellen Czajkowski with the Vermont Office of Legislative Counsel reviewed the tweaks to previous versions of the bill at Tuesday’s meeting. She said the bill does give municipalities and districts a degree of local control.

“They can set density standards if they don’t want more than five units per acre,” Czajkowski said, pointing to one example.

The bipartisan committee wrangled over a number of provisions within the bill during Tuesday’s deliberations, including potential language for permissible parking spaces. There was discussion of setting the limit at 1-1.5 parking spaces per unit.

State Sen. Randy Brock, R-Franklin, said such a stipulation could lead to challenges for people moving into the state and seeking affordable housing options.

“I’m very concerned about micromanaging everything,” Brock said. “You have so many people who are couples — they’re two-car couples.”

State Sen. Ann Cummings, D-Montpelier, however, said language on parking thresholds could ultimately benefit communities.

“The towns are left with: ‘What do you do with the cars?’” Cummings said. “You can’t plow the streets.”

The two- and four-unit housing requirements also sparked a discussion about density and its value and challenges.

Cummings said she believed the Legislature should be thoughtful about the requirements for the betterment of all residents.

“I believe in learning from mistakes of the past,” Cummings said, referencing large housing developments across the U.S. “There’s a point where too much density is not a good thing.”

Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Public domain and Kesha Ram Hinsdale

9 thoughts on “Committee continues review of affordable housing bill

  1. Education vs. indoctrination, who’s better at what? What is the difference?

    Here is a fun video, enjoy.

    there is a path to wisdom, but first you have to humble yourself, realize who is in control, who has truth and knowledge, then follow.

    We have so lost our path….pride keeps us away, and we wallow in ignorance, not realizing we’ve created our own issues.

  2. What a future Vermont has for you.
    It’s going to be the rich people living in sprawling estates and the rest of the population renting ‘units’ in brutalist Soviet style high rises.. built where the farms used to be.
    You’ll own nothing and be happy- as Klaus Schwab tells you to be.

    • Nah….they are going to build fancy sewer and water systems, that burden everyone, make everything unaffordable and them build stalls for their chattle to stay in.

      • in town, because people move to Vermont to be in small apartment complexes in really small towns that have nothing to offer when compared to small cities…..

        why would you want to live cheek to jowl, and not get the benefits of a small city?

  3. After years and years of not allowing big box stores and businesses the left was opposed to which claimed they would destroy the bucolic character of Vermont, they now want to build high density Bronx style apartments, aka future slums in Vermont.

    • That is righteous, lol. Better yet Sugarbush is building Migrant Housing….but they are calling it work force housing so everything is good.

      Meanwhile, working Vermonters have been clamoring every year, in every study that we need housing, to allow it to be built for those of us who work. Let them eat bike paths, let them eat soccer fields, let them eat pocket parks, let them eat custom sidewalks.

      Now 2023 Screw that, let’s give their jobs to workers on Visa’s from South America, we only need them for 6 months and can ship them back home (and perhaps no unemployment?…..)

      Yeah baby….the new Vermont way.

  4. Well, I suppose ms. ram-hinsdale knows best, especially housing…Her husband’s family has been in the rental housing and property management business since 1954.
    I suppose that co-opting local zoning to requiring multi unit dwellings is the progressive thing to do. We’ve ceded local control of education to the State, so why not local zoning, land use- (H.5,H.6,H.29,H.30H.36,H.68,H.70,H.126…you get the idea…After all these legislators have proven for decades their superior thinking, requiring us only to go along with their diktats.

    • If you look on any main artery in Vermont on any weekday morning, you’ll find many, many commuters going to and from their place of work. What about them? What about those commuting to Montpelier state house?

      1 car lot per home would be great if it was allowed currently, now they require too much parking….

      They will rube goldberg this just like everything else. It is also following Agenda 21, the real puppet master of all Vermont land use.

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