Other Legislative Issues
Smart Growth Vermont has been very active in the statehouse this session advocating for reforms and public investments that support compact settlement and a vibrant economy. Below is a brief update on the most important issues we are working on in the statehouse. Please consider contacting your legislators to urge action or give thanks on these issues:
1) Strip Development Controls
S.99 is a bill that would modernize the way Act 250 regulates strip development. Vermonters don’t want our state highways to fill up with more strip development, but Act 250 does not adequately address the problem. Under the leadership of Senator Ginny Lyons, S.99 was unanimously voted out of the Senate Natural Resources Committee but is now stalled in the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing, and General Affairs.
2) Downtown and Village Center Redevelopment Investments
The Senate Economic Development Committee has developed a bill (S.137) that – thanks to the leadership of Senator Vince Illuzzi – includes a provision for a $400,000 increase to the current $1.6M cap on the Downtown and Village Center redevelopment tax incentives. These incentives create jobs while improving our community centers, but concerns over falling state revenues has caused this provision to stall.
3) Growth Center Program Improvements
We support S.64, which is a bill that will provide some important improvements to the new Growth Center program. We are concerned about the size and scope of some of the first growth proposed growth centers and this bill would provide communities and state agencies improved guidance so as to ensure that growth centers do not support sprawl. The bill is pending in the Senate Committee and will hopefully be a top priority for action in the 2010 session.
4) Transportation Enhancements
At the beginning of the session, the Agency of Transportation was proposing a moratorium be placed on new transportation enhancement projects and that the public board awarding these community development incentives be eliminated and replaced by unilateral decisions of an agency official. We fought this proposal and are happy to report the existing program will actually be expanded in the coming year thanks to special funding provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.