Vermont’s Gov. Scott opposes land use changes



(The Center Square) — Vermont Gov. Phil Scott is pushing back against a legislative proposal to update the state’s land use policies, which he argues will create new layers of bureaucracy and make it harder to build new housing.

The proposal, set to be taken up by the state House of Representatives this week, would expand overhaul Act 250 — Vermont’s 53-year-old land use law — to cover a majority of the state and set new incentives for housing and rules for protecting natural resources.

Scott said the state needs to make it “easier, faster, and less expensive” to build more housing but said the House bill would “move the state backward” by creating a complicated regulatory and appeals process.

It includes changes that would significantly expand the bureaucracy, inevitably resulting in more delays that make it more expensive to build housing now,” Scott, a Republican, said in a statement. “It will deepen the disparity between the ‘haves and have-nots’ in our state, especially for rural Vermont, where expanded regulatory requirements will fall on the shoulders of communities with the least capacity.

Scott, who vetoed a similar proposal to overhaul the land use law last year, pointed out that at least 100 members of the House represent towns that “will likely never benefit from the Tier 1A designation in the bill” and called on them to reject the proposal.

A fiscal note attached to the bill by the Legislature’s Joint Fiscal Office said the bill would cost the state about $1.9 million to implement, including money for a new municipal planning grant program and to hire attorneys and a biologist to oversee the program. The proposal would also cost the state more than $970,000 in a reduction in fee revenue for state environmental agencies, according to the fiscal note.

Developers have long argued that Vermont’s sweeping land use law causes delays, preventing them from quickly building new housing to meet demand.

But environmentalists have pushed for the law to be strengthened to protect wildlife, forests and other critical natural resources from becoming overly developed.

A 2023 report by a state commission made more than a dozen recommendations to update the law while striking a balance between encouraging more housing development and protecting the state’s natural resources.

“In short, the Act 250 permit process needs to be updated to encourage development in cities and villages where development is desired and appropriate,” the report’s authors wrote. “At the same time, Act 250 should also be updated to provide targeted location-based jurisdiction over critical natural resource areas that are at the greatest risk from development.”

But Scott argues the House proposal will take years to implement, “doing nothing to address the housing shortage” and said it “sets the state up for years of inaction, at a time when we need to move swiftly to support the housing needs of all Vermonters.”

Read the Black Chronicle Black History Edition for Free! Click Below

Read the Black Chronicle Black History Edition for Free! Click Below



Share post:


More like this

Washington taxpayers to pay more for school meals as program expands

(The Center Square) – More school districts across Washington...

Lee signs bill to allow Super Bowl contracts to remain hidden 10 years

(The Center Square) – Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed...

Moody’s upgrades Illinois’ credit outlook

(The Center Square) – A financial transparency expert is...

City of San Francisco gets better rent deal as downtown flounders

(The Center Square) - The city of San Francisco’s...