Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Bindu Panikkar

Project Collaborators

Shaina Kasper, Donna Barlow Casey

Status

Undergraduate

Student College

Rubenstein School of Environmental and Natural Resources

Program/Major

Environmental Studies

Primary Research Category

Vermont Studies

Presentation Title

Evaluating Vermont’s Land Use Policy (Act 250): An Opportunity for Legislative Reform

Time

11:00 AM

Location

Silver Maple Ballroom - Food & Environmental Sciences

Abstract

This report is a response to Vermont’s 2017-2018 legislative initiative to complete a comprehensive, public review of the state’s land use and development law, Act 250. The law was originally established in 1970, with the intention of transforming traditional planning through active community participation in major land use decisions, and an emphasis on environmental protection. While Act 250 has been amended over the years, it has unfortunately not been able to change at rate that incorporates relevant climate science, the ways in which developers have learned to bypass restrictions, and the evolving values and concerns of Vermonters. As a response, in 2017, the Vermont Legislature created a six person commission called The Commission on Act 250: The Next 50 Years, a lso referred to as Act 47. The role of the Commission has been to conduct a critical examination of the ways in which land is permitted and developed across the state, current problem areas with the law, and how it could be improved moving forward, directly involving Vermonters’ priorities and perspectives. This report has three distinct intentions. First, it defines key terminology, presents a history of Act 250, and provides background on the Commission’s review process thus far. Then, the report identifies five problem areas within the law, followed by informed suggestions for the Commission to consider in their deliberations. Finally, the report transitions into a discussion of Vermont-specific climate change, offering climate resilience strategies for the Commission to consider in their legislative recommendations.

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Evaluating Vermont’s Land Use Policy (Act 250): An Opportunity for Legislative Reform

This report is a response to Vermont’s 2017-2018 legislative initiative to complete a comprehensive, public review of the state’s land use and development law, Act 250. The law was originally established in 1970, with the intention of transforming traditional planning through active community participation in major land use decisions, and an emphasis on environmental protection. While Act 250 has been amended over the years, it has unfortunately not been able to change at rate that incorporates relevant climate science, the ways in which developers have learned to bypass restrictions, and the evolving values and concerns of Vermonters. As a response, in 2017, the Vermont Legislature created a six person commission called The Commission on Act 250: The Next 50 Years, a lso referred to as Act 47. The role of the Commission has been to conduct a critical examination of the ways in which land is permitted and developed across the state, current problem areas with the law, and how it could be improved moving forward, directly involving Vermonters’ priorities and perspectives. This report has three distinct intentions. First, it defines key terminology, presents a history of Act 250, and provides background on the Commission’s review process thus far. Then, the report identifies five problem areas within the law, followed by informed suggestions for the Commission to consider in their deliberations. Finally, the report transitions into a discussion of Vermont-specific climate change, offering climate resilience strategies for the Commission to consider in their legislative recommendations.