Building Tomorrow: The Evolving Housing Legislation Landscape

Legislative leadership has made a cross-chamber commitment that there will be an Act 250 package this session that modernizes the land-use and development law to meet the needs of Vermonters by enabling the creation of new housing. Work continued this week on the Be Home bill, H.687, and S.308. Each of these bills contains initial committee perspective that will play a role in reaching a final compromise.

Work on the Be HOME bill continued in the Senate Economic Development, Housing, and General Affairs Committee where members worked to hammer out interim Act 250 relief for housing development while a larger Act 250 statewide mapping project would happen over the next several years. Due to procedural requirements, that bill was voted out of committee today but will be recommitted back to the same committee next week to receive further drafting. In addition to land use, the BE Home bill includes housing programming, local zoning changes, and taxation changes.

The House Energy and Environment Committee is shifting from taking lengthy testimony on H.687 which covers Act 250 and the summer land use studies, to implementing feedback and stakeholder considerations. With six weeks until the crossover deadlines for bills to move from one chamber to another, the committee will have significant time to refine the bill. The Vermont Chamber will continue to advocate for proposals that are more closely in line with the compromise made in the Necessary Updates to Act250 report.

The Senate Natural Resources Committee is also working on a bill concerning Act 250 and weaving together the three land use reports that were done before the session. It is unclear how the two Senate Act 250 bills will come together. There was also a joint hearing between the House General and Housing Committee and the House Human Services Committee this week on affordable housing initiatives.

On March 14, the Vermont Department of Housing & Community Development and statewide partners will hold a summit on the Homes for All Toolkit that will address community housing and affordability concerns. The toolkit includes a Missing Middle Homes Design Guide, a series of five Vermont Neighborhood Infill Design Case Studies, and a Builders’ Workbook.