Vermonts Governor Phil Scotts weekly address focused on the single most agreed upon issue in the state which is housing. This issue is the single challenge that is shared by all Vermonters regardless of political party or any other identity. The housing issues is causing homelessness, workforce development, and habitability crisis for people across the state. Governor Scott pointed to all of the challenges and then introduced a tri partisan coalition of legislators who had a plan and bill to tackle at least part of the issue.
A parade of Senators and Representatives approached the microphone to talk about the importance and agreement they shared that housing is in crisis mode. They told stories and anecdotes about how their constituents were impacted and how they hoped to fix the challenges. They spoke about the work they put into their tri partisan bill H.719 that was to be introduced that afternoon. The public, advocates and communities were eager to see the bill.
Check out the summary of the bill below. There are additional details you can find here but the best parts are below. Although it doesnt impact costs of labor, materials and interest rate inflations it works on land development. The bill:
- Changes definition of development under Act 250 jurisdictional threshold trigger from the 5-5-10 (10 homes within subdivided parcels within 5 miles in 5 years) to a 30-2 (30 subdivided within 2 years). Staying under the thresholds means no Act 250 permit required. This requires the existence of water and sewer.
- Changes definition of development to exclude developments like coops, condos and mobile parks from Act 250 if they are withing ½ mile of designated downtowns.
- Changes definition of development to exclude conversion of existing hotels to residences.
- Delegates all powers to towns with significant zoning and infrastructure to not require Act 250.
- Removes requirements to remediate farm soils within designated downtowns and development areas
- Changes appeal standing process from require at least 10 residents to complain to 10% of population of town.
- No appeals allowed up to 25 units where there is water and sewer
- Requires appellants to get “appeal bonds” prior to appeal so that if it is found to be frivolous that the applicants attorneys fees are paid by appellants
- Requires decisions within 60 days for applications or commence construction
- Elaborates on parking to prevent towns from creating roadblocks
- Property tax exemption for some properties during development/reconstruction
- Transfer tax exemption for some properties
- There are several appropriations for existing programs