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Lawmakers consider review of Act 250

SALISBURY — Act 250, the state’s comprehensive review process for development proposals, is about to turn 50, and new legislation (H.424) proposes to create a commission to review and recommend ways of improving the law.
“It’s incredibly important and we need to have a robust, thoughtful process if we’re going to re-write the DNA of development in the state of Vermont,” Sen. Chris Bray, D-New Haven, said at Monday’s Legislative Breakfast in Salisbury. “Let’s be very thoughtful and careful and make sure we are engaging all the right parties.”
Rep. Harvey Smith, R-New Haven, cautioned that changes to Act 250 exemptions could have a serious impact on farmers.
“Agriculture has historically had an exemption from municipal planning and zoning,” he said. “You also had an exemption under Act 250.”
Some agricultural operations are already being put to the permitting test, he noted.
“Now, as we get into diversification of agriculture, we’re finding more conflicts between what municipalities feel they have jurisdiction over and what agriculture has traditionally had for exemptions,” he said. “We are in the process of trying to define that line, and it’s not going to be an easy line to draw, because a lot of municipalities feel they have been shortchanged and need more of a say over what traditional agriculture is doing.”

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