What has been made abundantly clear to us is that there is a real threat that the House Energy and Environment Committee will strip S.100 of all Act 250 Reform — which negates the good work on the other 50% of the bill we were able to look at and discuss.
If you agree Vermonters can’t afford higher taxes, fees and penalties, and that we should use historic federal funds and state surpluses to address the basic fundamental needs to revitalize communities, write the Governor’s Office and contact your legislators.
Vermont’s development regulations have long been weaponized to resist development — and then relaxed if the development satisfied the regulators’ demands. No wonder we don’t have developers ready to build the housing we need.
The Climate Action Plan declares we must “support compact settlement patterns that contribute to the reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions, enhance community and built environment resilience, and help conserve natural and working lands.” That requires channeling development into population centers where people can get around by cycling and walking, and no development anywhere else.
Ted Brady, executive director of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, said the legislation “ignores the largest obstacle” when it comes to housing creation, the state’s decades-old Act 250. The act is known as the state’s land and use act.
A dispute over zoning districts in South Hero is easily traced to Vermont’s development initiatives promulgated by the NRPC. Do South Hero property owners have a right to an opinion on their town’s zoning plans, or are they to be bypassed and shamed by a handful of quasi-public leaders?
In the past environmental groups have tried getting multiple bills on the issue of forest fragmentation through the legislature, including last session’s H.606, which made it through the Legislature but was vetoed by Gov. Phil Scott. At this point, forest advocates are bullish on their chances of changing Act 250 this session.
Republican Gov. Phil Scott said the state has invested $500 million in housing over the past two years, but the state is being held back from advancing housing by regulations he said need to be addressed this year.
Hinesburg landowners have clashed with town planners over proposed zoning changes that, to prioritize forest conservation, would more strictly govern land use across a large stretch of town. “That’s not what my vision is for my property,” resident Tony St. Hilaire told the Hinesburg Planning Commission.
The governor on Tuesday had the mayor of Vermont’s largest city and another housing policy expert on hand at his weekly press conference to tell Vermonters now is not the time for red tape when it comes to reforming the state’s land use law, Act 250.
The purpose of S.234 is to promote “smart growth,” affordable housing, healthy forests, working lands, and reorganize oversight of the Act 250 process. The new permitting process adds “undue adverse impact on forest blocks (or) connecting habitat” to the list of reasons an Act 250 permit could be rejected.
H.492, an act relating to the structure of the Natural Resources Board, passed in the State House of Representatives on March 22, 2022, by a vote of 92-49.