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Draft Report on Recommended Act 250 Updates Released
The Vermont Natural Resources Board released a draft report that underscores the need for strategic changes to Vermont’s land use policy. In recent months, Megan Sullivan, VP of Government Affairs was on the Stakeholder Steering Committee for the report, working to center modernization and to ensure essential housing development in smart growth areas is incentivized. Businesses are encouraged to submit feedback on the report in writing today, Friday, December 15, 2023. By participating in the public comment process, we can work together to ensure that Act 250 reform aligns with the needs of Vermonters.
There is an opportunity this year to update Act 250 to allow for critical housing development while also protecting important natural resources. It is essential that after taking public comments into account the final report recommendations consider the following:
- We must ensure that the final report recognizes the role housing plays as an economic catalyst. We can stimulate economic activity and opportunity by reducing redundant permitting that adds unnecessary time and costs. This will actively support the creation of more housing in smart growth areas that subsequently help retain Vermont’s current population and attract new talent to Vermont.
- It is vital that areas proposed for Act 250 exemptions, or a higher unit trigger, meet Vermont’s growth needs over the next 20 years. Infill development in current mapped designation areas which include less than 3% of Vermont’s land, will not meet the level of new housing units required to meet the goal of 350,000 units by 2035.
- Any enhanced Act 250 jurisdiction in areas that have subsets of highly sensitive natural resources in Vermont should be carefully studied with input from rural Vermonters. Rural communities are an important part of the fabric of Vermont and cannot be left out or left behind.
- The final report should contain a clear recommendation on measurable performance indicators. They must require that the administration of Act 250 is timely, consistent, predictable, and fair across all District Commissions.