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NO. 112. AN ACT RELATING TO GIVING CERTAIN TOWNS THE OPTION OF HAVING PLANNING COMMISSION AND BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT APPEALS BE HEARD ON THE RECORD BEFORE THE ENVIRONMENTAL COURT.

(H.209)

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1. 24 V.S.A. § 4471(a) is amended to read:

(a) An interested person may appeal a decision of a board of adjustment, a planning commission, or a development review board to the environmental court. An appeal from a decision of the board of adjustment, the planning commission, or a development review board shall be taken in such manner as the supreme court may by rule provide for appeals from state agencies governed by sections 801 through 816 of Title 3, unless the decision is a development review board, board of adjustment, or planning commission decision which the municipality has elected to be subject to review on the record. If the municipal legislative body has determined (or been instructed by the voters) to provide that appeals of certain development review board, board of adjustment, or planning commission determinations, or both board of adjustment and planning commission determinations, shall be on the record, has defined what magnitude or nature of development proposal shall be subject to the production of an adequate record by the development review board, board of adjustment, or planning commission and has provided that the municipal administrative procedure act shall apply in these instances, then an appeal from such a decision of a development review board, board of adjustment, or planning commission shall be taken on the record in accordance with Rules 74 and 75 of the Rules of Civil Procedure. Notice of the appeal shall be sent by mail to every interested person appearing and having been heard at the hearing before the planning commission, board of adjustment, or the development review board, and, if any one or more of those persons are not then parties to the appeal, upon motion they shall be granted leave by the court to intervene.

Sec. 2. 3 V.S.A. § 2293 is added to read:

§ 2293. DEVELOPMENT CABINET

(a) Legislative purpose. The general assembly deems it prudent to establish a permanent and formal mechanism to assure collaboration and consultation among state agencies and departments, in order to support and encourage Vermont’s economic development, while at the same time conserving and promoting Vermont’s traditional settlement patterns, its working and rural landscape, its strong communities, and its healthy environment, all in a manner set forth in this section.

(b) Development cabinet. A development cabinet is created, to consist of the secretaries of the agencies of administration, natural resources, commerce and community affairs, and transportation, and the commissioner of the department of agriculture, food and markets. The governor or the governor’s designee shall chair the development cabinet. The development cabinet shall advise the governor on how best to implement the purposes of this section, and shall recommend changes as appropriate to improve implementation of those purposes. The development cabinet may establish interagency work groups to support its mission, drawing membership from any agency or department of state government.

(c) All state agencies that have programs or take actions affecting land use, including those identified under 3 V.S.A. chapter 67, shall, through or in conjunction with the members of the development cabinet:

(1) Support conservation of working lands and open spaces.

(2) Strengthen agricultural and forest product economies, and encourage the diversification of these industries.

(3) Develop and implement plans to educate the public by encouraging discussion at the local level about the impacts of poorly designed growth, and support local efforts to enhance and encourage development and economic growth in the state’s existing towns and villages.

(4) Administer tax credits, loans, and grants for water, sewer, housing, schools, transportation, and other community or industrial infrastructure, in a manner consistent with the purposes of this section.

(5) To the extent possible, endeavor to make the expenditure of state appropriations consistent with the purposes of this section.

(6) Encourage development in, and work to revitalize, land and buildings in existing village and urban centers, including “brownfields,” housing stock, and vacant or underutilized development zones. Each agency is to set meaningful and quantifiable benchmarks.

(7) Encourage communities to approve settlement patterns based on maintaining the state’s compact villages, open spaces, working landscapes, and rural countryside.

(8) Encourage relatively intensive residential development close to resources such as schools, shops, and community centers and make infrastructure investments to support this pattern.

(9) Support recreational opportunities that build on Vermont’s outstanding natural resources, and encourage public access for activities such as boating, hiking, fishing, skiing, hunting, and snowmobiling. Support and work collaboratively to make possible sound development and well-planned growth in existing recreational infrastructure.

(10) Provide means and opportunity for downtown housing for mixed social and income groups in each community.

(11) Report annually to the governor and the legislature, through the chair of the development cabinet and the secretary of administration, on the effectiveness and impact of this section on the state’s economic growth and land use development and the activities of the council of regional commissions.

(12) Encourage timely and efficient processing of permit applications affecting land use, including 10 V.S.A. chapter 151 and the subdivision regulations adopted under 18 V.S.A. § 1218, in order to encourage the development of affordable housing and small business expansion, while protecting Vermont’s natural resources.

(d) Limitations. This cabinet is strictly an information gathering and coordinating cabinet and confers no additional enforcement powers.

Approved: May 18, 2000