Act 250 turf battle muted as House committees meet

By Guy Page

Last Thursday, it was thunder and lightning in the House Housing and General Committee as members complained bitterly that chair Tom Stevens wouldn’t let them vote on relaxing Act 250’s new housing construction regulations.

Rep. Amy Sheldon

As reported by VDC this week, Caleb Elder (D-Starksboro), Rep. Ashley Bartley (R-Georgia), and others last Thursday impatiently urged that Vermont needs new housing. They feared the ‘Act 250 committee’ (Environment and Energy) would block any amendment of S100 to raise the Act 250 exemption from 10 to 25 units in rural areas. Chair Tom Stevens said he was under House leadership orders to not allow a vote on Act 250 but that he would try to get a meeting with E & E – which he did. 

By contrast, peace and quiet reigned over this morning’s joint meeting, held on E & E’s home turf and chaired by Chair Amy Sheldon (D-Middlebury), the architect of attempted Act 250 reform (as yet unsuccessful). 

Rep. Ashley Bartley

Sheldon also introduced and shepherded through the House H.126, which would conserve against most forms of development 50% of total land area in Vermont. H.126 is scheduled for Senate Natural Resources and Energy Friday morning.

Elder was not in attendance, or at least was not visibly present, in the joint hearing broadcast via Zoom. After discussion of the history of the bill and the housing programs approved by House Housing and General, Rep. Bartley addressed the elephant-sized issue in the room by asking Sheldon: “How do you plan to address Act 250 reform?”

Sheldon reminded Bartley – a freshman lawmaker – that Sheldon and her committee have been working on Act 250 reform for five years. “I can share that [work] with you,” she said. 

Then Sheldon said she is waiting on “two important reports” on the impact of Act 250 reform due out next year. “But this bill has brought it forward, so we’re going to take it up,” Sheldon said. But she didn’t say how.

Stevens turned the focus to helping the currently homeless. In July, he said, between 2,000 and 5000 Vermonters will be leaving subsidized housing. “Zoning won’t help that,” the sponsor of the Homeless Bill of Rights said. “We have to buy tents and sleeping bags for Vermonters, because it’s summer. …. For my personal morals, that’s a difficult thing to hear. That’s what keeps me awake, that’s what keeps me focused.”

Sheldon’s committee is scheduled to discuss S.100 all week.  

Categories: Legislation

2 replies »

  1. Instead of tents and sleeping bags, how about substance addiction rehabilitation and mental help medication/counseling/hospitalization? How about closing the wide-open border in an effort to defeat the massive disbursement of drugs into the USA?

    It’s amazing that Vermont officials just IGNORE their own federal government’s long-term statistical data and research into the causes of homelessness – and continue to wail about the lack of housing. And btw, precisely how many more out-of-state people do you flooding into Vermont at this point now? I know. A LOT. It forces your skewed “diversity” and weakens that middle class who have served their nation & worked for every dollar they have – socialism knows NO middle class; only the elite & powerful and the desperate, controlled masses.

    Facts. Reality. Try them, democrats. But I suppose if you believe that boys can become girls, you’ll believe anything. Yup…continuing to do a GREAT job up there!

  2. ACT 250, although not perfect was designed to keep Vermont looking like Vermont. Building in Vermont needs control or small towns become cities. Greed over proper land regulations and changing Act 250 will be the destruction of rual Vermont, that can never be fixed. Once rual Vermont is gone there is no turning back.