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ACT NO. 62


Affordable Housing Development

This act proposes to stimulate the development of affordable housing. The act creates a commission to study the Municipal and Regional Planning Act, and to propose changes designed to facilitate and motivate the development and appropriate distribution of affordable housing throughout Vermont while, at the same time, preserving municipalities control of land use. The commission will have 11 members composed of the Commissioner of Housing and Community Affairs or designee, the Secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources or designee, and nine members to be appointed by the Governor, including: a representative of the regional planning commissions, two representatives from the development and real estate community (one from a for-profit and one from a nonprofit organization), an individual with expertise in municipal and zoning law, a municipal zoning or planning official, a land use planner experienced in smart growth concepts, a representative from the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, an individual with expertise in natural resources management, and an individual with expertise in Act 250. The commission shall submit a report to the General Assembly before January 15, 2002.

The Secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, in cooperation with the 12 planning commissions, shall implement by November 15, 2001 a program that provides regular training to members of municipal planning and zoning commissions and development review boards. The Secretary will report to the General Assembly by March 1, 2002 on the program. The Secretary will also review guidelines and criteria within the agency and propose changes that will link economic and job growth with housing development and availability in a report due October 1, 2001.

The Commissioner of Housing and Community Affairs shall prepare a report by November 15, 2001 outlining recommendations for program or criteria changes in any state loan, grant or other funding program for which the addition or adaptation of criteria would create incentives for communities and developers to build more affordable housing. The Commissioner shall also create a Vermont housing budget including any state funds of $50,000.00 or more appropriated for housing including funds appropriated to the Vermont Housing and Conservation Trust Fund, the Agency of Human Services and the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. The Commissioner shall annually develop a Vermont housing investment plan in consultation with the Vermont Housing Council.

The act extends the Joint Housing Committee for four more years until July 1, 2005, and increases the maximum total of affordable housing tax credits that may be awarded to $150,000.00 from $100,000.00.

Finally, the act establishes a task force on the redevelopment of upper stories of downtown buildings, new town center development incentives and regulatory reform. The task force will have fifteen members including two representatives appointed by the Speaker, two Senate members of the Joint Housing Committee appointed by the Committees, the state historic preservation officer, and eight additional members to be appointed by the Secretary of Commerce and Community Development with expertise as prescribed by this act, to recommend statutory, regulatory and policy reforms to encourage the redevelopment of second and third stories in historic downtown buildings and the development of housing and mixed-use development in municipal centers.

Effective Date: July 1, 2001