Act 250 revision foundering

By Guy Page

The Act 250 revision bill, S234, has ‘blown up’ and is unlikely to proceed in the Senate, State House observers say.

The bill took heat from the governor Tuesday because, he said, it would make new housing permitting more, not less expensive and difficult. Today, environmental groups disappointed by the pending loss of ‘forest fragmentation’ provisions are losing confidence. 

Some provisions – including the controversial housing language – may be moved to another bill, observers say. 

Today is likely the next-to-last day of the 2021-2022 biennium. Unless the bill can be salvaged, Act 250 reform – an effort that has consumed thousands of person-hours during the last four years – will once again be told, ‘wait ‘till next year.’

The Vermont Natural Resources Council has long supported legislative initiatives to prevent ‘forest fragmentation,’ which occurs when woodland roads and buildings disrupt the woodland habitat. Sections of S234 protecting against forest fragmentation are now facing significant revision, and environmental groups aren’t happy.

Act 250 is the state’s landmark development and land use bill, passed in 1972. Lawmakers have urging revisions to address climate change and 21st century development challenges. 

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