Act 250 (Vermont law)


Act 250 (Vermont law)

In the spring of 1970, the Vermont legislature passed [http://www.nrb.state.vt.us/lup/statute.htm Act 250] , known as the Land Use and Development Act. Development pressures resulting from the opening of two interstate highways (I-89 and I-91) made access to the state much easier for year-round visitors, creating community concerns including road congestion, increased environmental problems, burden on local services, and rising taxes. Governor Deane C. Davis (Republican) appointed a study commission in 1969 to develop a statewide law to address these concerns, as no environmental regulations or land-use controls existed.

The law created nine District Environmental Commissions to review large-scale development projects using 10 criteria that are designed to safeguard the environment, community life, and aesthetic character of the state. They have the power to issue or deny a permit to real estate developers for any project that encompasses more than 10 acres (40,000 m²), or more than 1 acre (4,000 m²) for towns that do not have permanent zoning and subdivision bylaws. The law also applies to any development project with more than 10 housing units or housing lots; and may also apply for construction proposed above convert|2500|ft|m of elevation. Act 250 also created the Vermont Environmental Board to review appeals coming from District Commission rulings.

Ten Criteria

The 10 Criteria [http://www.nrb.state.vt.us/lup/publications/nrb1.pdf [1] are as follows:
*1. Will not result in undue water or air pollution.Included are the following considerations: (A) Headwaters; (B) Waste disposal (including wastewater and stormwater); (C) Water Conservation; (D) Floodways; (E) Streams; (F) Shorelines; and (G) Wetlands.
*2. Has sufficient water available for the needs of the subdivision or development.
*3. Will not unreasonably burden any existing water supply.
*4. Will not cause unreasonable soil erosion or affect the capacity of the land to hold water.
*5. Will not cause unreasonably dangerous or congested conditions with respect to highways or other means of transportation.
*6. Will not create an unreasonable burden on the educational facilities of the municipality.
*7. Will not create an unreasonable burden on the municipality in providing governmental services.
*8. Will not have an undue adverse effect on aesthetics, scenic beauty, historic sites or natural areas, and 8(A) will not imperil necessary wildlife habitat or endangered species in the immediate area.
*9. Conforms with the Capability and Development Plan which includes the following considerations: (A) The impact the project will have on the growth of the town or region: (B) Primary agricultural soils; (C) Productive forest soils; (D) Earth resources; (E) Extraction of earth resources; (F) Energy conservation; (G) Private utility services; (H) Costs of scattered developments; (J) Public utility services; (K) Development affecting public investments; and (L) Rural growth areas.
*10. Is in conformance with any local or regional plan or capital facilities program.

The 10 criteria have changed little since the adoption of Act 250 in 1970. Efforts have been made over the years to make the permitting process work more efficiently, along with performance standards. Today, the District Commissions receive between 600 and 800 applications per year, and hold hearings on an average of 20% of these. They have an approval record of 98%, but this rate includes plans modified during the hearing process, with conditions typically attached to permits when granted.

Act-250 jurisdiction attaches forever to permits, except to permits for quarries and logging at elevations over convert|2500|ft|m. These permits are allowed to close when the work required to complete them is complete. Unfortunately. there is not sufficient funding to support personnel to verify proper completion of the required activity, so the Act-250 office must rely on the permit applicant to truthfully verify completion.

District Commissions

* District 1: Rutland County
* District 2: Windham County, southern Windsor County
* District 3: northern Windsor County, Orange County
* District 4: Chittenden County
* District 5: Washington County and Lamoille County
* District 6: Franklin County and Grand Isle County
* District 7: Caledonia County, Orleans County and Essex County
* District 8: Bennington County
* District 9: Addison County

Source: ACT 250: A Guide to Vermont's Land Use Law. State of Vermont Environmental Board, Montpelier, VT (USA), November 2000.


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