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.

Now is our chance to shape how the law can better serve Vermont in the next 50 years.

In 2020, we're advancing a carefully balanced package that will make Act 250 better for the environment, business, communities, and interested citizens. We believe this bill presents a reasonable, balanced approach to ensuring that Act 250 adequately protects Vermont’s environments and communities, culminating decades of VNRC’s work with partners to this goal. 
Click here to read the latest about Act 250.
Act 250 Resources

Act 250 News

Jon Groveman: Act 250 bill protects water quality

This commentary is by Jon Groveman, Policy and Water Program Director at the Vermont Natural Resources Council. It also appeared in VTDigger, the Bennington Banner and the Brattleboro Reformer. In 1970,…

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Jamey Fidel: We can’t take Vermont’s forests for granted

This commentary is by Jamey Fidel, General Counsel and Forest and Wildlife Program Director at Vermont Natural Resources Council. It also appeared in VTDigger, Bennington Banner and Brattleboro Reformer. Vermont…

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Kate McCarthy: Proposed Act 250 changes support smart growth

This commentary is by Kate McCarthy, Sustainable Communities Program Director at VNRC. It also appeared in VTDigger, the Brattleboro Reformer, the Rutland Herald, and the Bennington Banner. It matters how…

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