What is Act 250?

Historic downtowns, stunning views, and active working lands are quintessentially Vermont. So, too, is Act 250, the legislation that has guided development in the state since 1970, with the goals of safeguarding our farms and forests from sprawl, protecting our natural resources, and helping our towns balance growth with community health and safety.

Act 250 is an environmental review and permitting process that regulates development in Vermont by reviewing the largest development projects for their potential impacts on the surrounding area. There are ten criteria used to evaluate a project, related to issues such as water, transportation, and conformance with local and regional plans.

Act 250 is administered by the Natural Resources Board (NRB), an independent entity in the Executive Branch of Vermont State government. NRB’s primary function is to administer Act 250. Read more at the NRB website.

How has Act 250 shaped Vermont?

There are many ways the Vermont you know and love today has been shaped by Act 250. Here are just a few:

  • Wonder why Vermont has managed to limit big-box sprawl? Act 250 has played a major role.
  • Along with other state policies, Act 250 has helped minimize real estate speculation in Vermont, making our state less vulnerable to economic downturns.
  • Act 250 has protected vital wildlife habitat, such as bear habitat and deer wintering areas, helping to ensure that we have healthy wildlife populations in Vermont.
  • Act 250 has provided a voice for Vermonters in helping shape significant projects that include major ski area expansion, quarrying, major housing developments, and industrial development.

Modernizing Act 250

The next 50 years, and beyond
Act 250 in its current state, despite its many strengths, is not equipped to meet all of today’s challenges, chief among them climate change. That's why in 2020, VNRC advanced a carefully balanced package to make Act 250 better for the environment, business, communities, and interested Vermonters.

This bill presented a reasonable, balanced approach to ensuring that Act 250 adequately protects Vermont’s environments and communities, culminating decades of our work with partners to this goal. This legislation passed but was vetoed by Governor Scott. Still, we continue our work to modernize Act 250 for future generations.
Click for the latest news about Act 250.
Act 250 Resources

Act 250 News

Construction equipment in quarry

VNRC’s Response to Supreme Court Case Weakening Act 250 Jurisdiction

A troubling decision by the Vermont Supreme Court recently weakened Act 250 jurisdiction for commercial and industrial development in towns that do not have land use regulations. The Supreme Court…

Read more

Commentary: Pandemic migration and climate change necessitate strengthening Act 250, land use strategies

Being a small state tucked away in northern New England, Vermont can feel disconnected from global movements and even from the rest of the country at times. But COVID-19 shined…

Read more

VNRC responds to Governor’s budget announcement on American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding

This week Governor Phil Scott presented a plan to invest $1 billion in one-time federal money from the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to address climate change, clean…

Read more