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

Act 250 has helped shape the Vermont we love today. But, the program is more than 50 years old and should be updated to meet all of today’s challenges, including climate change, forest fragmentation, and increasing the availability of affordable, smart growth housing. It is time to consider how Act 250 can be reformed to better support help address our housing crisis while simultaneously protecting our natural resources and communities. Solutions to these issues can go hand in hand. This Legislative session, VNRC is looking forward to working with legislators, and partners such as planning commission leaders, housing developers, The Forest Partnership, climate advocates, and many more, to advance Act 250 reform that can strengthen Vermont’s environment, communities, and the overall quality of life in our state.
Click here to read more about how VNRC is working to modernize Act 250 in 2024!
Act 250 Resources

Act 250 News

Two Things: Act 250 Action and Art Walk with a Pollinator Workshop

Two Things: Asking you to take action today to support Act 250 reform, and inviting you to join us for Montpelier Art Walk with a special clay workshop for pollinators!  Stay…

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Three Things: A Collaborative Call for Act 250 Reform, Wild & Scenic Film Festival Lineup, and More Opportunities for Action

Three Things: Sharing our joint commentary on Act 250 reform, announcing our 2024 Wild & Scenic Film Festival lineup, and asking you to take action on two key bills.  Stay…

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Building Together: A Call for Collaborative Housing Legislation

This commentary is by the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, the Vermont Natural Resources Council, and the Vermont Association of Planning and Development Agencies  Climate change poses a significant threat to…

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