Everyone in the Statehouse is rightly concerned about the shortage of affordable housing in the state. The preferred solution is a combination of subsidies for housing to make it affordable, plus a relaxation of strict development regulations. The enviros are willing to back off a little bit on Act 250 requirements, but only if the development project is to be located in state-designated compact settlement zones, that from the enviro standpoint are already areas ruined by heedless people and businesses.
The game here has always been to impose strict regulations to defeat development everywhere, then back off a bit in favored compact settlement areas.
A friend of mine recently told me that he was looking to sell his woodland to a neighbor, who wanted to create a sugarbush. My friend said “I had to go through a subdivision plan if I did not sell him all the contiguous land that I owned. Because the land is nowhere near a designated growth center, I had to get a binding septic plan, a subdivision permit, and file surveys identifying all features. The total cost of complying came to around $30,000. And this was for a sugarbush and sugar house, not an actual development.
In effect, Vermont’s development regulations have long been weaponized to resist development – and then relaxed if the development satisfied the regulators’ demands. No wonder we don’t have developers ready to build the housing we need.