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Legislative Study: “Necessary Updates to the Act 250 Program”

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    Act 182 of 2022 and Act 47 of 2023 direct the Natural Resources Board (NRB) with reporting to the House Committees on Environment and Energy and Ways and Means and the Senate Committees on Finance and Natural Resources and Energy on “necessary updates to the Act 250 program,” on or before December 31, 2023.

    In June 2023, the NRB convened a stakeholder Steering Committee to help the NRB design and implement a robust process for stakeholder input and build consensus among stakeholders with divergent perspectives.

    Under the terms of Act 182 and Act 47, the NRB’s report to the legislature shall include:

    1. How to transition to a system in which Act 250 jurisdiction is based on location, which shall encourage development in designated areas, the maintenance of intact rural working lands, and the protection of natural resources of statewide significance, including biodiversity. Location-based jurisdiction would adjust the threshold for Act 250 jurisdiction based on the characteristics of the location. This section of the report shall consider whether to develop thresholds and tiers of jurisdiction as recommended in the Commission on Act 250: the Next 50 Years Report.

    2. How to use the Capability and Development Plan to meet the statewide planning goals.

    3. An assessment of the current level of staffing of the Board and District Commissions, including whether there should be a district coordinator located in every district.

    4. Whether the permit fees are sufficient to cover the costs of the program and, if not, a recommendation for a source of revenue to supplement the fees.

    5. Whether the permit fees are effective in providing appropriate incentives.

    6. Whether the Board should be able to assess its costs on applicants.

    7. Whether increasing jurisdictional thresholds for housing development to 25 units would affect housing affordability, especially for primary homeownership, and what the potential impact of increasing those thresholds to 25 units would have on natural and community resources addressed under existing Act 250 criteria.

    8. A proposed framework for delegating administration of Act 250 permits to municipalities.

    The Steering Committee’s role is to advise the NRB on 1) the contents of this report, and 2) work with stakeholder groups to incorporate their expertise through effective stakeholder outreach and consensus building. Outreach will include multiple meetings with specific groups of stakeholders with an interest in Act 250; the facilitators and the NRB will seek suggestions from the Steering Committee on whom to include in these meetings and will deliberate on the feedback received.

    Public input on recommendations were sought through public meetings and comments and have been compiled into a final report.

    Questions or comments may be submitted to the NRB General inbox


    Other related Legislative reports: 

      Necessary Updates to Act 250 Program Study Overview and Facilitator Team and Steering Committee Members

      Facilitator Team, Stakeholder Process, and Steering Committee Members

      Steering Committee Meeting Notes

      Interest-Based Stakeholder Group Meeting Notes