Susan Minter (Executive Director, Capstone Community Action) shared with the House General & Housing Committee on Thursday a report by the Community Action Team reiterating that housing was needed. Minter gave a very similar presentation to the one given in the Senate regarding S.100. The same risks were identified as in the Senate the same powerful stories that demonstrated the need for more housing.
She reiterated, again, that there was no focus on Act 250 or business issues addressed in the bill. Even so, Minter supported the bill as it was.Read more
Alex Weinhagen (President, Vermont Planners Association) spoke to the House Environment & Energy Committee on Wednesday about housing and permit reform legislation. He gave an overview with his opinion on the housing crisis and explained that State and local government can and should take action in the areas over which they have control. The Vermont Planners Association (VPA) strongly supports modernizing municipal land use regulations, state permitting reform (e.g., wastewater, stormwater, building codes, and Act 250), as well as changes to expedite development review appeals processes. This final point is one of the main focuses of S.100.Read more
Anne Sosin (Interim Director, Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition) spoke to the House General & Housing Committee on Thursday about Housing and Homelessness. She cast homelessness as a housing problem and a "policy choice," reiterating that they are "aligned" with other advocates supporting the S.100 housing bill.Read more
This week the Senate Natural Resources Committee focused mainly on amendments and wording changes to S.100 and the amendments being offered. These language changes dealing with definitions of downtown development districts, areas affected by municipal sewers infrastructure and wastewater systems.Read more
He commented on the state’s failure to pass statewide land use planning back in the “Act 250 days.” Specifically, he pointed to the abundance of opportunities during the permitting process for folks to increase costs and raise objections that lead to a lack of affordable or lower market rate housing generally.
He pointed out that the Vermont Housing Conservation Board (VHCB) is the financing arm of the state’s housing development efforts and recanted some stories about a designated smartgrowth site in Putney adjacent to the food coop. The same person came forward and appealed at two different stages of the process. Both times they won the initial appeal against the objections, but now it is headed to the Vermont Supreme Court. The town of Putney was all on board, however the resulting delays will be 18 months by the time the appeals play out, and it will raise the per unit cost by an estimated 20% (originally expected to be $400,000).Read more
The Senate Economic Development Committee continued to do mark up of the Omnibus Housing Bill on Tuesday with two members of the Committee absent. Chairwoman Ram Hinsdale stated that she presumed that the absent Committee Members were aligned with moving in the direction that the Committee was going with mark-up of the bill. This, however, contradicts Senator Brock’s statement of last week where he went on record as to not being comfortable with this Bill.Read more
This week the Senate Economic Development Committee reached the mark-up stage of their Omnibus Housing Bill. There was discussion in the Committee that many local governments in Vermont were unhappy with the duplex by right governing authority that is being taken away in this bill. Barre Town was particularly not pleased. The Chair tried to justify that it was not taking authority from local government but was more dealing with the homeowner. Even so, the Committee believed this was a huge change and expressed concerns.Read more