Vermont Act 250 Stakeholder Project

Aerial shot of champlain valley in Vermont looking at Adirondacks

Natural Resources Board Act 250 Necessary Updates

Act 250, Vermont’s landmark land use law, was passed in 1970 in response to rapid and haphazard development. Over the years, Act 250 has received minor amendments, but a lack of consensus among stakeholders has prevented significant legislative changes to modernize Act 250. The Legislature passed Act 182 (2000) and Act 47 (2023) requiring the NRB to seek input from stakeholders and draft a report to address the following issues:

  • Location-based jurisdiction
  • Using the Capability and Development Plan
  • NRB staffing assessment
  • Sufficiency of permit fees
  • Effectiveness of permit fees in providing appropriate incentives
  • Whether the Board should be able to assess its costs on applicants
  • Increasing jurisdictional thresholds for housing to 25 units
  • Delegation of administration of Act 250 permits to municipalities

A body of water with a house and foliage in vermont

Act 250’s current challenges include balancing between protecting the environment and enabling housing and economic development, minimizing duplicative regulations, enabling smart growth and affordable housing in cities and designated village centers, maintaining rural working lands, and creating stricter requirements for environmentally sensitive areas.

The NRB contracted with the EMC to facilitate the meetings with stakeholders. The EMC has assembled a team comprised of experienced mediators/facilitators, a former legislator, and national land use policy experts familiar with Vermont to not only facilitate the stakeholder meetings but also build consensus that would enable recommendations on changes to Act 250 by the NRB to be enacted into law.

This webpage will serve as a clearinghouse for information to stakeholders and the general public about the project. The webpage will contain background information, reading materials, and regular updates. In addition, the NRB’s website contains a description of this project, the legislative mandate, and other material related to the project. https://nrb.vermont.gov/legislative-study-necessary-updates-act-250-program

The steering committee working to reach consensus.

Stakeholder Outreach Process

The EMC and the NRB formed a steering committee comprised of leaders who represent a variety of constituencies with an active stake in the Act 250 program: applicants, consultants, attorneys, economic development organizations, housing organizations, municipalities, District Coordinators and Commissioners, environmental advocates, and state agencies. In addition to the steering committee, the EMC will be meeting with interest-based focus groups comprised of leaders in each of the sectors listed above. The steering committee members will serve as liaisons with each stakeholder interest group by relaying feedback from their respective interest groups back to the steering committee. The EMC will work with the steering committee in an effort to reach consensus on a series of recommendations to update Act 250.

Public Outreach

Once the steering committee develops recommendations, the EMC will facilitate two public meetings to seek feedback from the general public. The date for these meetings will be publicized on the NRB and EMC websites as well as through the media. The steering committee and the NRB will review and discuss the feedback from the public and determine whether to modify the recommendations. The NRB’s report to the Legislature is due December 31, 2023.

Current Project Activities

The EMC and NRB launched the project on June 27, 2023, by meeting with the District Coordinators and District Commissioners followed by the first meeting with the steering committee. During these meetings, the facilitation team provided background information about the project and began initial discussions about Act 250 governance. In July we will facilitate the second meeting with the steering committee and begin meeting with each interest-based stakeholder focus group.

Final Report

Background Reading Material

Steering Committee

Meeting Notes

Steering Committee

Interest-Based Focus Groups

Contact the facilitation team
info@emcenter.org