Regional Land Use Planning
The Regional Plan
NVDA plays a vital role in the Land Use Planning for Caledonia, Essex and Orleans Counties. Our Regional Plan and planning assistance guides growth in this region with the participation of our municipalities.
According to Vermont Statutes [24 V.S.A. Section 4347], "A regional plan shall be made with the general purpose of guiding and accomplishing a coordinated, efficient and economic development of the region which will, in accordance with the present and future needs and resources, best promote the health, safety, order, convenience, prosperity and welfare of the inhabitants as well as efficiency and economy in the process of development."
What is Act 250?
Act 250 is Vermont’s land use regulatory procedure designed to balance development with environmental, local, regional and state issues while providing a forum for interested parties to voice their concerns.
Act 250 is a unique permitting system, where applications are reviewed by laypeople who serve on district Act 250 commissions around Vermont.
The district environmental commissions map describes the nine districts in the state. The Natural Resources Board is the quasi-judicial body which administers the Act 250 process at the state level. The Board decides appeals from the District Commissions as well as makes declaratory rulings.
NVDA's Role Under Act 250
Regional Planning Commissions have a statutory right to participate in Act 250 hearings for projects located within their region. As a statutory party, NVDA may address any or all of the 10 criteria considered in the Act 250 proceedings. A statutory party may also appeal a District Commission’s decision even if they do not participate in the original hearing.
Also, NVDA participates in hearings with the Regional Plan, which is written by the Staff, adopted by the Board of Directors and updated every five years. Each Act 250 application must meet 10 specific criteria to receive a permit. Criterion 10 addresses local and regional plans:
a. Before granting a permit, the board or district commission shall find that the subdivision or development... (10) Is in conformance with any duly adopted local or regional plan or capital program under chapter 117 of Title 24. [10 V.S.A. Section 6086(a)(10)]
If there is a conflict between the local and regional plans, then the choice of which plan controls depends on whether the project has substantial regional significance. If the town does not have a duly adopted Town Plan, then the Regional Plan governs.
To learn more, a great resource is the Vermont Act 250 Handbook: A Guide to State and Regional Land Use Regulation by Cindy Corlett Argentine, 1998. For copies, contact Putney Press, PO Box 430 Newfane, VT 05345 (802)365-7991.