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
In 2017, the Vermont Legislature established the Commission on Act 250: The Next 50 Years to examine how to improve Act 250 as it approaches 50 years old, and established VNRC as an advisor to the Commission.

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 Act can better serve Vermont in the next 50 years.

In 2018, VNRC created a set of recommendations to strengthen the environment, communities, and the Act 250 process into future generations.

Read Our Core Recommendations Here
Act 250 Resources

Act 250 Priorities

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Keeping forest blocks intact

Ensuring the livelihood of working farms and the safeguarding of natural resources

Read More
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Making Vermont more resilient against climate change

Regulating new development in a way that reduces energy use and helps us deal with climate change

Read More
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Promoting compact development to enrich downtowns and villages

Reducing sprawl and discouraging scattered, incremental development

Read More
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Updating scientific criteria relating to water resources

To address protection of rivers, streams, headwaters, floodways, shorelines, and wetlands

Read More

Act 250 News

Brian Shupe: Setting the Record Straight on Act 250

I am writing in response to Linda Joy Sullivan’s Op/Ed addressing Act 250, Vermont’s nearly 50-year-old development regulation, published in the Manchester Journal. With extensive Vermont experience in land use…

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What’s Next for Act 250?

In 2018, the Vermont legislature created the Commission on Act 250: The Next 50 Years to work on modernizing Act 250, and established VNRC as an advisor to the Commission. In this capacity, we prepared Core…

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Commission on Act 250 Begins Public Forums Across Vermont

The Commission on Act 250: The Next 50 Years was established by the Vermont Legislature this year to work on modernizing Act 250, which has regulated development in the state since…

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