Maintaining citizen access and strong local involvement in Act 250 is a priority for VNRC. This is reflected in the package of recommended changes to Act 250 that we presented with the Scott Administration to the Vermont Legislature.
The proposal has been portrayed by headlines as eliminating regional input and public participation. In actuality, our proposed changes are part of a carefully balanced package that will make Act 250 better for the environment, business, communities, and interested citizens. It will:
- Give authority to regional administrators who staff the Act 250 review process to issue permits for what are known as “minor” Act 250 applications, which make up 80% of all Act 250 applications
- Expand opportunities for citizen involvement through a pre-application notice and comment process that will allow citizens to address issues with a project before an application is filed
- Create a hybrid review board made up of regional commissioners and full-time board members who will review major applications (about 20% of all Act 250 applications) in the town where the project in question is located
- Ensure that the board will be independent from political pressure and include a range of professional perspectives and backgrounds
Find more detail in a commentary by VNRC’s executive director Brian Shupe: https://vtdigger.org/2020/01/20/brian-shupe-maintaining-citizen-access-to-act-250/.