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State pushes alternative Act 250 review

first_imgSource: Vermont Economic Development Dept. 9.9.9. The Douglas Administration is reminding people who may want to apply for an Act 250 permit that they can reduce the risk and upfront costs associated with the process by seeking to have the most problematic aspects of a project reviewed first. Rule 21 of Act 250, which allows a District Commission to conduct a review of less than all of a project’s Act 250 criteria in exchange for a minimum filing fee, has been on the books a long time, but is rarely used, officials said.“The economy is showing some signs of recovery, but in these uncertain times nobody wants to unnecessarily invest scarce capital without knowing the magnitude of risk involved in obtaining a reasonable return,” said Tayt Brooks, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Economic, Housing and Community Development.“With this in mind, we’d like to remind anyone who is considering applying for an Act 250 permit that there is a rule in place to provide for partial reviews of proposed projects, thereby reducing the cost associated with risk,” he said.Under Act 250, the state’s development control law, proposed development projects must satisfy 10 criteria including impacts on the environment; traffic; local schools and services; and aesthetics.The fee for such projects generally is $4.75 per $1,000 construction cost, meaning a $100,000 project would cost $475, while a $1 million project would cost $4,750.But under Rule 21, an applicant can ask a District Commission to review a project against a particularly uncertain or potentially contentious criterion by paying only $150 instead of the standard fee.“This allows an applicant to avoid the risk – and cost – of preparing and submitting an entire permit application only to find out that one aspect of the project is going to be an insurmountable obstacle,” Brooks said.If project receives approval under the criterion or criteria, the rest of the proposal could be heard and the full application fee paid later, at which time the less contentious criteria would be reviewed. This would also allow developers to lay the groundwork for projects now, and then begin construction when the economic situation has become more favorable and financing more available.The partial findings and conclusions are valid for a period of time (usually up to five years) and are binding unless appealed within 30 days. “If the District Commission rules against an applicant, they can appeal the decision; modify the project; or decide the project was not worth investing any more funds, having lost only a minimal Act 250 fee and the cost of preparing a partial application,” Brooks said.For questions pertaining to Rule 21, interested parties may contact their local District Coordinator or Brooks at (802) 828-5218 or at tayt.brooks@state.vt.us(link sends e-mail) -30-last_img read more