With a lot of local media attention focused on the planning & development of much-needed affordable housing, one key obstacle continues to be Vermont’s notorious 50+ year-old Land Use and Development law, Act 250. However, a new bill that has just passed a key vote in the House intends to modernize Act 250 by streamlining development in designated “neighborhood development areas” while at the same time providing new guidance to towns with no zoning or subdivision regulations.
Originally intended to help control the sprawl that came as a result of a quickly expanding ski industry, Act 250 has long been a thorn in the side to real estate developers looking build on residential, commercial, and industrial land throughout the state. Increased costs, major timeline delays and outdated policies are examples of the negative sentiments associated with the Act 250 process.
While speaking on the House floor, Rep. Seth Bongartz, D-Manchester, stated “This bill is a step toward the kind of deep systemic rethinking in which we need to engage as we prepare to meet the dual challenges of dramatic climate change and a growing population.”
Additionally, representatives from numerous environmental groups across the state (including Vermont Natural Resources Council, Vermont Land Trust, Audubon Vermont, Nature Conservancy VT Chapter and others) have championed the proposed bill and are urging lawmakers to enact this legislation as soon as possible.
As part of his veto letter sent to lawmakers with regards to the failed “Just Cause Eviction” charter change in Burlington, Governor Phil Scott said that he and his administration are focused on promoting more development of new housing inventory rather than trying to assert control over housing options that already exist.
Having passed a vote in the House, the bill now advances to the Senate before it can arrive on the Governor’s desk for final approval. For more information, check out the article on VTDigger, “With an eye toward housing, Vermont House passes bill to update Act 250” or click HERE to read the S.234 bill in it’s entirety.
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