March 24, 2013
Opinions, Vermont

S.30 is a wise approach

John T. Ewing, former chair of the Vermont Environmental Board | March 24, 2013 |

For many years developers have complained about Act 250 and its review of major projects – saying that it places an unreasonable burden, unnecessarily inviting citizen participation, and making it difficult to move their projects forward. Yet over time the environmental criteria of Act 250, the system’s consideration of town and regional plans, and participation by neighbors and those directly affected has proven largely successful in guiding growth in Vermont and protecting the quality of life that we enjoy. As to the charge that development is unreasonably curtailed by the law, in fact over 90 percent of development proposals are approved.

Therefore I find it strange that some voices not only in the business community but also some nonprofits who are normally protective of Act 250, are making the same old arguments when it comes to ridgeline development for wind – saying that using the criteria of Act 250, including town and regional planning, coupled with citizen participation will make it difficult to ever gain approval. And this is said even though the state and its Public Service Board have never done the necessary planning to determine the appropriate siting opportunities.

S.30 being considered by the Vermont Senate is a wise and moderate approach and also supports the work of the Siting Commission. But the report of that commission is not yet due, and its content is not known. Its recommendations requiring legislative approval could not be enacted until 2014. Therefore it is prudent to pass S.30 now â€“ it reflects many years of the positive interaction of development with appropriate review.

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