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Advocacy Updates: Housing, Community Development, and Land Use

VLCT has identified housing, community development and land-use as a key topic to follow during the 2024 legislative session. Check back for the latest updates on this issue. Or, view our Weekly Legislative Reports page to see everything we're following. 

Update coming soon! When updating our Advocacy Update webpages, we are giving priority coverage to the topic(s) that are currently being shaped and voted on. 

VLCT’s Legislative Priorities include increasing and expanding opportunities for housing development through regulatory relief and low barrier, statewide, location-based incentives. Several bills have been introduced this session with the stated goal of increasing housing opportunity, availability, and affordability. This update focuses on two large omnibus housing bills: the Senate’s Be Home Bill and H.719. 
 

Bringing Everyone Home 

The Senate Committee on Economic Development and Housing and General Affairs has introduced a draft committee bill currently known as the Be Home Bill, which has the purpose of “bringing everyone home”. This bill is far reaching and has something for every interest group to like as well as something for every interest group to dislike. The 89-page draft  

  • includes a section that would delegate Act 250 review authority to municipalities under certain circumstances; 

  • also addresses: building codes, water and wastewater connections, permit appeals, mitigation for loss of primary agricultural soils, release and exemption of Act 250 permits, appeals of administrative officers, and appeal bonds; 

  • sets time limits on decisions of advisory and review panels, makes changes to municipal parking requirements, allows hotels and motels to convert to permanently affordable housing, changes lot coverage requirements and lot density, establishes new Act 250 “Tiers”, and defines the application process for municipalities to be approved for Tiers 1A and 1B;  

  • requires a study about establishing a municipal land bank program, establishes a statewide rental registry program, requires disclosure of flood risks for residential properties, proposes a disaster resiliency investment area (somewhat like a TIFF);  

  • establishes and/or makes changes to at least nine different housing programs; and  

  • proposes over $40 million in appropriations.  

See Dr 4.1 Bill Outline for the current section-by-section breakdown.

Despite the complexity and need to take a deep dive into many of these issues, the committee is on a fast track to move this bill out quickly. They intend to come back and further discuss areas of disagreement and consider the overlap with H.719.  

While VLCT has many interests in this bill, our recent discussions and VLCT Executive Director Ted Brady’s February 2 testimony focused primarily on the municipal interests of  

  • appeals,  

  • by-right development,  

  • new density requirements, and  

  • set timelines for municipal decisions.  

We welcome your feedback on VLCT’s stated concerns and any other aspects of this bill. We recognize the challenges of staying up to date on bills of this size and the significant changes expected throughout the legislative process.  
 

Tri-Partisan Housing Solution – H.719  

A large group of House members, including Democrats, Republicans, and Progressives, has put forward their solutions to the housing crisis in H.719. This, like the Senate’s proposed Be Home Bill, is a large, comprehensive bill that would affect Act 250, municipal zoning, housing programs, and tax laws. This bill has the support of the Scott administration, which provided an overview presentation on H.719 to the Senate Committee on Economic Development and Housing and General Affairs a few weeks ago. The proposed changes and simplified process for exemptions to Act 250 jurisdiction mirror requests from VLCT over the last few years. The housing appeal and municipal reforms proposed in H.719 have shared elements with the Be Home bill. This includes some areas of likely support from municipalities and some areas of real concern. In addition, the two bills overlap in proposed updates to last year’s Act 47 or Home Bill.

A major difference in the approach between these two bills comes in the form of investments or incentives to support housing development and rehabilitation. H.719 proposes tax-based incentives, outlined in the State of Vermont’s January 11, 2024, Housing Reform Legislative Priorities presentation, as opposed to the large appropriations of fiscal year 2025 General Fund dollars in the Be Home Bill. VLCT has yet to be asked to testify on H.719 but has consulted with the many legislators and administration officials pushing this bill forward.

As always, please send your feedback, questions, and concerns to advocacy@vlct.org.  

Publication Date
12/14/2023