Vermont Passes Smart Growth, Affordable Housing Bill

<p>The Vermont legislature passed a bill that encourages residential construction in village and town centers by offering tax credits and reducing permitting requirements. 20% of the homes and rental units must be affordable.</p>
June 3, 2008, 10am PDT | Nate Berg
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"House and Senate lawmakers called their compromise bill an important piece of legislation that focuses new development in appropriate places while opening up new housing opportunities to low- and moderate-income Vermonters. The bill seeks to focus development in urban hubs by lifting Act 250 [state environmental] jurisdiction on large-scale developments in designated city and town centers."

"'I do think we have a housing bill that will do something,' House Speaker Gaye Symington said Friday. 'We take the next step in smart growth policies to encourage growth where communities have said they want it.'"

"The House's original version of the bill strengthened Act 250 oversight in rural areas, a kind of tit-for-tat offering to the environmental community in exchange for the more lenient permit oversight in Vermont Neighborhoods. But that proposal was dropped after harsh criticism from developers in the state."

"[State Sen.] Illuzzi said the bill was among the most contentious of the session. 'When this bill came to us it was radioactive,' Illuzzi said. 'We couldn't schedule a meeting for three weeks because people were so upset with each other.' Cooler heads prevailed, though, Illuzzi said, and the result is a bill that will build housing stock in Vermont without the kind of sprawl and outgrowth that threaten Vermont's countryside. 'I expect to see new activity in these designated areas by next summer,' he said."

Thanks to Chris Robbins

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Published on Saturday, May 3, 2008 in Barre Montpelier Times Argus Online
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