Legislative Smart Growth Study Committee Launched
Smart Growth Vermont is currently participating in a Smart Growth Study Committee that was established as part of the legislation that created the new Vermont Neighborhoods program in the last session. Chaired by Senator Ginny Lyons, the committee includes representatives from the Vermont Association of Realtors, the Vermont Law School, the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, the Vermont Association of Planning and Development Agencies, the Vermont Planners Association, the Vermont Natural Resources Council, the Vermont Homebuilders and Remodelers Association, and the Vermont Natural Resources Board, along with Senator Bill Carris and Represenatives Tony Klein and Ira Trombley.
The mandate of the committee is to discuss and evaluate possible updates to Act 250 rules as well as other topics related to promoting smart growth. During negotiations about the above mentioned legislation, Smart Growth Vermont had advocated for changes that would better protect Vermont’s working rural lands. However, this topic turned out to be very contentious, and it was decided that this and other issues would be examined by a Study Committee.
In broad terms, the committee will:
- Study Act 250 (10 V.S.A. § 6086) criterion 5, relating to traffic, criterion 9(H), relating to scattered development, criterion 9(L), relating to rural development, and other criteria identified by the committee, to determine the effectiveness of those criteria to promote compact settlement patterns, prevent sprawl, and protect important natural resources, and to make recommendations to improve the effectiveness of those criteria in preserving the economic vitality of Vermont’s existing settlements and preventing sprawl development.
- Evaluate the development potential of existing designated downtowns, new town centers, and village centers and evaluate the community and natural resource impacts of developing surrounding lands.
- Make recommendations for incentives designed to encourage municipalities to preserve Vermont’s working landscape and to develop Vermont neighborhoods and new housing.
- Develop recommendations on how best to conduct assessments of the various designation programs.