Howard Dean (D)
for the amount of protected land in Vermont, and click here
to review Vermont's federal transportation spending.
Center on the States &
Changing Direction: Federal Transportation
Spending in the 1990s. Surface
Transportation Policy Project
AFFORDABLE HOUSING HIGHLIGHTS
In 1986, the Vermont Housing and Conservation
Coalition—a coalition of affordable housing, conservation, and historic
preservation advocates concerned with this rapid change in the character
of the Vermont landscape--approached the state legislature with a plan
to form a unique agency to review and fund projects addressing a range
of community needs. The Legislature responded, passing the Vermont Housing
and Conservation Trust Fund Act, enacted in June 1987, and capitalized
with $3 million. Thirteen years later, VHCB remains unique in the
nation in pioneering this comprehensive approach to affordable housing
and community development linked with land conservation and historic preservation.
For a history of the coalition and how it can be replicated, please visit
149 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05602
For an overview of Vermont's planning and
zoning statutes, see a summary provided by the American
State Land Use and Development Bill, June 1,
1970, (Act 250)
Championed by a Republican governor and passed
by a conservative legislature in 1970, Act 250 is one of the nation's first
land use regulatory programs. Act 250 is significant because it gives citizens
an opportunity to participate in decisions regarding large-scale development
projects and requires communities to consider the long-term impact
of such projects.
Act 250 requires major developments to obtain
a permit before proceeding. Permits are granted by Vermont's district
environmental commissions, one for each nine regions. Major developments
are defined as projects that involve one or more of the following: fiv
or more residential lots in towns lacking zoning or subdivision regulations;
ten or more acres of commercial, industrial, or municipal development;
more than one acre of commercial, industrial or municipal development if
located in towns lacking zoning regulations or subdivision regulations;
construction above elevations of 2,500 feet.
To determine whether a project should be approved,
rejected, or approved with conditions, the commission holds local public
hearings in the town where new development is proposed. In assessing
a project, the commission applies 10 criteria set forth in Act 250.
One criterion is whether the development will create "scattered development,"
[i.e., sprawl] thereby burdening taxpayers with added public service costs.
In short, Act 250 asks government officials and the public to consider
the long term effects of a project.
Based on the review, the commission approves or
denies the permit. An interested party can appeal to a 9-member governor-appointed
state environmental board, which provides a public, quasi-judicial process
for the appeals. National Life Records Center Building, Drawer 20, Montpelier,
VT 05620-3201; (802) 828-3309 ;
The Vermont Growth Management Act (Act 200
of 1988) Title 24 Vermont Statutes Annotated, Chapter 117
Years after Act 250 was adopted and implemented,
the requirement for a state land use plan was deleted. The State found
it needed additional controls on growth. In 1987, the Commission
on Vermont's Future was formed under Governor Madeleine Kunin's guidance.
After meeting with the public, the commission found that the state
overwhelmingly wanted to protect its unique community and natural resources.
In response, Vermont passed Act 200 (May 1988), which established twelve
planning goals (later added to). Act 200 does not require towns to
plan but it does provide financial incentives to do so. If a town chooses
to plan, it must follow the state goals and address land use, transportation,
natural resource and local heritage issues. Neighboring towns must
coordinate plans. The regional commissions act as links between towns,
and state and local government. They are required to adopt regional
plans that meet state goals. They also mediate conflicts. If parties
cannot resolve conflicts, a Council of Regional Commissions arbitrates.
State agencies are also required to adopt plans that are consistent with
land use goals. Some planning experts believe that Act 200's actual
implementation has been a disappointment and that the law has not fulfilled
Contact: Vermont Department of Housing and Community
Affairs/Planning Office, National Life Building, Drawer 20, Montpelier,
Vermont 05620-0501; 802-828-3211; Internet: http://www.state.vt.us/dca/housing/
Downtown Community Development Act - H.0278
The Downtown Community Development Act of 1998
establishes that the state use its limited resources to focus its attention
on those downtowns that are making a commitment to their own revitalization.
Not only did the legislation contain special rehab tax incentives to encourage
downtown rehabs but it also contains provisions aimed at curbing sprawl
through highway curb cut permits.
For more information on the Downtown Community
Development Act contact:
Contact: Department of Housing and Community
Affairs, National Life Building, Drawer 20, Montpelier, Vermont 05620-0501;
Telephone (802) 828-3211; Fax (802) 828-2928;
Building on an Executive Order signed by Governor
Howard Dean, the Legislature passed Act 112 in 2000. The act requires
state agency programs and investments to support land conservation, strengthen
agriculture and forestry, and focus growth on existing downtowns and village
Executive Order No. 15
Issued by Governor Madeleine Kunin in September,
1985, this Executive Order directs Vermont's Department of State Buildings
to help local officials revitalize their communities and preserve local
historic resources. It directs the state:
* to give priority to locating state government
activities in historic buildings and exisiting buildings when appropriate;
* support the Vermont Community Development
Program by using rehabilitated historic and other existing buildings for
*coordinate the location of state facilitites
with local government officials to assure that state facilities will be
located in accord with municipal policies, plans and regulations.
Contact: Office of the Governor, 109 State
Street, Montpelier, Vermont 05609; Phone: (802) 828-3333 Fax: (802) 828-3339;
Governor's Info./Referral line (within VT): 1-800-649-6825
In re Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 702 A.2d 397
In 1993, Wal-Mart submitted a major development
plan to Vermont's District 6 Environmental Commission, which then voted
to grant a building permit. Fearing it would displace economic activity
from downtown St. Albans, a small Vermont city, and change the character
of the region, the Franklin/Grand Isle County Citizens for Downtown Preservation
protested. Together with the Vermont Natural Resources Council, this
organization appealed the decision to the Vermont Environmental Board.
The Board heard from both sides of the conflict and found in favor of the
citizens group. Evidence supplied by witnesses for the Citizens showed
*the St. Alban's Wal-Mart would displace
one-third of the total market for department store-type merchandise, and
*the superstore would take up 44
acres for 100,000 sq. feet of store, while downtown St. Albans contained
1.7 million sq. feet of retail space in a smaller area of land.
In early 1995, Wal-Mart appealed the environmental
board's decision to Vermont's Supreme Court. Later the Court "upheld
both the Board's interpretation of Act 250's criteria and its authority
to compel permit applicants, such as Wal-Mart, to prepare a credible study
on the impact of the proposed development on secondary growth, including
its associated costs and benefits, and then to propose measures to rectify
whatever concerns have been identified." In the end, the decision shows
that Act 250 has the requisite teeth to require credible studies of a developments
impact on the local community. (Source: Preservation Law Reporter,
16 PLA 1197, Oct-Dec 1997).
Natural Resources Council
The Vermont Natural Resources Council is a non-profit
environmental organization founded in 1963 to promote the wise use of Vermont's
natural resources. VNRC does research, legislative lobbying, advocacy
and education work on issues including land use, forestry, agriculture,
water, energy, wastes, and growth management. Address: VNRC,
9 Bailey Avenue, Montpelier, VT 05602; Telephone: (802) 223-2328; Fax:
(802) 223-0287; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Forum on Sprawl
Vermont Forum on Sprawl seeks to assist Vermont
and Vermonters in achieving compact settlements surrounded by rural landscapes
while encouraging community and economic development to be consistent with
this vision. Address: Vermont Forum on Sprawl, 110 Main Street,Burlington,
VT 05401-8451; Phone: 802-864-6310; Fax: 802-862-4487; Email: email@example.com.
Preservation Trust of Vermont
The Preservation Trust of Vermont, organized
in 1981, is dedicated to the preservation of Vermont's architectural resources.
The nonprofit organization provides resources and tools to local organizations,
communities, and others who are on the ground dealing with critical preservation
projects and issues. In 1987, the Preservation Trust of Vermont helped
pass the Vermont Housing and Conservation Fund, a program designed to create
affordable housing and conserve and protect agricultural land, historic
properties, significant natural areas and recreational lands. Contact:
PTV, 104 Church Street, Burlington, Vermont 05401; Telephone: (802)658-6647.
The Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) is
the largest regional environmental advocacy organization in the United
States. Based in New England, the organization's attorneys, scientists,
economists, policy experts work on the most significant threats to the
natural environment of the region, and to the health of its residents.
Founded in 1966, CLF maintains advocacy centers in Boston, Massachusetts;
Montpelier, Vermont; Concord, New Hampshire; and Rockland, Maine.
Contact: CLF, Vermont Branch Office: 21
E. State Street, Suite 301; Montpelier, VT 05602-3010 Telephone:
(802) 223-5992; Fax: (802) 223-0060.
Vermont Land Trust (VLT) is a member supported
non-profit land conservation organization, operating six regional offices
throughout the State. Since 1977, VLT has conserved more than 172,000 acres,
including over 220 operating farms.VLT provides technical and legal assistance
to individuals, communities, and local land trusts, helping them
achieve local conservation objectives.
Contact: VLT, 8 Bailey
Avenue, Montpelier, VT 05602; Telephone: (802) 223-5234; Fax: (802) 223-4223.
The Vermont Forum on Sprawl profiles the efforts
of two Vermont towns addressing the problems of sprawl. View the Richmond
and Manchester case studies at http://www.vtsprawl.org/casestudies.htm
or contact them at the address above for more information.
Constance Beaumont, Smart States, Better Communities,
(Washington: National Trust for Historic Preservation, 1996.) (pp. 85,
173-177, & 270-285).
John Degrove, Land Growth and Politics,
(Chicago: Planners Press/American Planning Assn., 1984), pp.235-290.
Julie Campoli, Elizabeth Humstone, and Alex McLean,
Above and Beyond, Visulaizing Change in Small Towns and Rural Areas,
(Chicago: Planners Press/American Planning Association, 2002). This book
contains aerial photography, computer graphics and case studies about growth
and development in Vermont.