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H.654

Introduced by   Representatives Masland of Thetford, Botzow of Pownal, Darrow of Dummerston, Deen of Westminster, Johnson of South Hero, Kiss of Burlington, Klein of East Montpelier, McCullough of Williston, McLaughlin of Royalton and Zuckerman of Burlington

Referred to Committee on

Date:

Subject:  Conservation; municipal planning; food supply planning; distributed power near critical local service providers; water supply planning

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to require the secretary of agriculture, food and markets to develop guidelines for use in establishing local and regional food supply plans and to develop a state food supply plan.  It proposes to require the director of emergency management to coordinate emergency planning efforts with long-range land use initiatives, including food supply planning efforts, drinking water supply planning efforts, and power planning efforts that would assure distributed renewable power facilities are located so as to provide service for critical local facilities.  It proposes to require the council of regional commissions to coordinate development of the state food supply plan, regional food supply plans, and any local food supply plans.  It proposes to require the council to coordinate the work of the regions and the towns in identifying fire and safety facilities, hospitals, emergency shelters, and other critical local facilities that should be recipients of locally based, renewable distributed power and in developing recommendations for the siting of these facilities.  It proposes to require the council to review the status of aquifer mapping and water source protection efforts and to make appropriate recommendations on that issue.

     It proposes to allow municipalities to establish local food supply districts and to adopt local food supply plans, which may include:  completion of an inventory of soils within the municipality; the creation of a program to assure soils are sufficient to feed the local population with locally grown food; and a program of inducements for obtaining landowner commitments to make specified tillable land available for local food production purposes in time of extended shortages of petroleum and other nonrenewable sources of energy.  It proposes to establish the powers and duties of local food supply commissions.

     The bill proposes to require regional planning commissions to develop regional food supply plans and coordinate with others working on food supply planning.  It proposes to require regional planning commissions to inventory fire and safety facilities, hospitals, and other critical local facilities, assure establishment of emergency shelters, and work with others to see that these facilities are served by distributed, renewable power facilities.  It proposes to require the regional plans to facilitate development and implementation of food supply planning and to indicate areas proposed for the siting of facilities to provide locally generated renewable power to critical regional service providers.  It proposes, effective July 1, 2008, to prohibit regional plans from providing for the conversion of primary agricultural soils until the region has adopted a regional food supply plan and has determined that the soils planned for conversion will not be needed for those purposes.

     The bill proposes to require the department of public service, in developing the state electric energy plan, to take into account the siting of distributed power facilities so as to serve critical local facilities and to consult with the council of regional commissions.  It proposes to require the department, in developing the state energy plan, to make recommendations for replacement of oil‑based fuels with biofuels produced within the state and recommendations for how the state energy plan may support food supply planning.

AN ACT RELATING TO EXPANDING EMERGENCY PLANNING TO ADDRESS LAND USE ISSUES, INCLUDING FOOD SUPPLY PLANNING, DISTRIBUTED POWER PLANNING, AND WATER SUPPLY PLANNING

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

* * * Duties of Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets *  *  *

Sec. 1.  6 V.S.A. § 8 is amended to read:

§ 8.  AGRICULTURAL LANDS PLANNING CRITERIA

(a)  The secretary shall establish guidelines to assist municipal and regional planning commissions in identifying agricultural lands, in developing state, regional, and local food supply plans, including those developed on an interregional or intraregional basis, and in implementing those food supply plans.  The guidelines shall provide, but not be limited to:

(1)  soil characteristics appropriate to agricultural land;

(2)  appropriate size of the parcel and use of adjacent land;

(3)  the importance of agriculture to the region or locality;

(4)  the availability and capacity of agricultural services and labor to support farming in the region; and

(5)  the importance of the land, as agricultural land, to the character of the locality;

(6)  while giving due consideration to local soils and existing local development patterns, the identification of a range of food products that could be produced locally and regionally without heavy reliance on petroleum products or on other nonrenewable sources of energy and that would provide a varied, nutritious basic food supply adequate to feed the local and regional population for an indefinite period of time;

(7)  recommendations as to the amount of land that would be required in state, regional, and local food plans to feed the residents of regions and municipalities of a range of sizes;

(8)  identification of resources that would facilitate the development and implementation of state, regional, and local food supply plans, but that can most economically be provided at a regional or state level, even during any extended periods of low petroleum availability or high petroleum costs;

(9)  evaluation and recommendations concerning the wisest use of limited petroleum resources in the implementation of state, regional, and local food plans and the identification of farming practices that are most likely to be able to be performed without heavy reliance on petroleum or on other

non-renewable sources of energy;

(10)  evaluation of alternatives available that would help prepare the state to be able to rely to a greater extent on animal power in meeting state, regional, and local food supply planning requirements, together with an identification of obstacles that may impede that process and a plan to overcome those obstacles;

(11)  an evaluation of evolving workforce training needs, community capital requirements, and cost-effective coordination opportunities that would assist in the implementation of food supply plans, together with recommendations as to how best to meet those needs.

(b)  The guidelines established by the secretary under subsection (a) of this section may be applied by each regional and municipal planning commission to establish specific criteria for identifying agricultural lands within that region or municipality and for developing state, regional, and local food supply plans.

Sec. 2.  6 V.S.A. § 20 is added to read:

§ 20.  STATE FOOD SUPPLY PLAN

The secretary, in collaboration with the regional planning commissions, interested municipalities, and interested governmental units from adjoining states shall prepare a state food supply plan designed to enable the population of the state to survive for an indefinite period of time, relying primarily on food produced within the state.  The plan shall be based upon an assessment of available agricultural soils throughout the state, as well as the factors specified in section 8 of this title.  The plan, and any plan revisions, shall be submitted to the council of regional commissions established under 24 V.S.A. § 4305.

* * * Vermont Emergency Management * * *

Sec. 3.  20 V.S.A. § 3(b) is amended to read:

(b)  There shall be a director of Vermont emergency management who shall be in immediate charge of the division.  The director shall be appointed by the commissioner, with the approval of the governor.  The director shall serve at the pleasure of the commissioner and shall hold no other state office.  The director shall perform all the following duties:

(1)  Coordinate the activities of all emergency management organizations within the state.

(2)  Maintain liaison and cooperation with emergency management agencies and organizations of the federal government and other states.

(3)  Perform additional duties and responsibilities required pursuant to this chapter and prescribed by the governor.

(4)  Coordinate emergency planning efforts with more long-range land use based, security initiatives, including:

(A)  food supply planning efforts by the state, regions, and localities, which shall include interregional and intraregional efforts, as coordinated through the council of regional commissions;

(B)  power planning efforts through the department of public service, the regional planning commissions, and the council of regional commissions, to assure that distributed renewable power facilities are located so as to provide uninterrupted service for critical local and regional facilities, including fire and safety facilities, hospitals, and emergency shelters;

(C)  drinking water supply planning efforts by the state, the municipalities, and the regions, identifying and preserving access to and the quality of critical aquifers.


* * * Council of Regional Commissions * * *

Sec. 4.  24 V.S.A. § 4305(h), (i), and (j) are added to read:

(h)  The council shall:

(1)  review, coordinate, and facilitate development of the state food supply plan developed by the secretary of agriculture, food and markets under 6 V.S.A. § 20, together with the regional food supply plans and any local food supply plans developed under this chapter (which shall include any interregional or intraregional plans); evaluate the adequacy for food supply planning of available agricultural soils in the various regions and municipalities; determine whether the plans developed may be implemented so as to assure food security based primarily on in-state resources for the people of the state for an indefinite period of time; and make appropriate recommendations to address identified deficiencies;

(2)  coordinate food planning efforts with the related efforts of the emergency management division of the department of public safety;

(3)  report no less frequently than every three years on the status of food supply planning in the state, including whether any regional planning commission has issued a declaration that it lacks sufficient available primary agricultural soils to develop an adequate regional food supply plan.  If such a finding has been issued by a regional planning commission, the council shall work with the region and with adjoining regions to seek to develop an interregional solution to this problem and shall report annually on the progress of this effort.

(i)  The council shall work with the regional planning commissions, the municipalities, the department of public service, interested members of the public, and the department of public safety:

(1)  to review the work of the regions, in conjunction with the department of public safety, identifying fire and safety facilities, hospitals, emergency shelters, and other critical local and regional facilities that should be recipients of locally based or regionally based renewable distributed power;

(2)  to evaluate alternative placement of renewable distributed power facilities and make recommendations regarding facility siting that may best serve those critical local and regional facilities;

(3)  to identify alternatives, including partnership alternatives, for timely development of these facilities;

(4)  to evaluate the relationship among the various regional efforts to assure locally based or regionally based renewable distributed power for critical facilities and make appropriate recommendations for additional interregional cooperation where conditions warrant;

(5)  to provide input on renewable distributed power for critical facilities:

(A)  to the department of public service for purposes of updating the state energy plan under 30 V.S.A. § 202b and the state electrical energy plan under 30 V.S.A. § 202; and

(B)  to the department of public safety for purposes of updating the state emergency management plan and program.

(j)  The council shall review the status of the state’s efforts to map the aquifers of the state, as well as the aquifer and water source protection measures in place at regional and municipal levels, and shall recommend to the general assembly and to other appropriate entities additional state, regional, and municipal measures that may be necessary in order to preserve the state’s water supplies and assure their ability to serve the people of the state for the indefinite future.

* * * Municipal Planning * * *

Sec. 5.  24 V.S.A. § 4414(1) is amended to read:

(1)  Zoning districts.  A municipality may define different and separate zoning districts, and identify within these districts which land uses are permitted as of right, and which are conditional uses requiring review and approval, including the districts set forth in this subdivision (1).

* * *

(B)  Agricultural, rural residential, forest, and recreational districts. Where, for the purposes set forth in section 4302 of this title, it is deemed necessary to safeguard certain areas from urban or suburban development and to encourage that development in other areas of the municipality or region, the following districts may be created:

(i)  Agricultural or rural residential districts, permitting all types of agricultural uses and prohibiting all other land development except low density residential development.

* * *

(iv)  Local food supply districts, allowing only activities and uses that implement or are consistent with implementation of the local food supply plan.

Sec. 6.  24 V.S.A. § 4432 is amended to read:

§ 4432.  SUPPORTING PLANS

A municipality may adopt a plan or plans that support the municipal plan and may incorporate such supporting plan or plans into the municipal plan in the same manner as adoption of the municipal plan set forth in section 4385 of this title.  In this event, the supporting plan shall become a part of the municipal plan.  Supporting plans may include:

(1)  Access management plan.  A municipality may adopt an access management plan to manage traffic and access onto public roads from adjacent property in a manner that complies with 19 V.S.A. § 1111.

* * *

(4)  Local food supply plan.  A municipality, acting alone or jointly with one or more other municipalities or regional planning commissions, may adopt a local food supply plan, in the development of which the following may take place:

(A)  an inventory may be completed of the agricultural soils that are  located within the municipality and that are being used or whose owners could determine that they will be used for local or regional food supply purposes, whether on a commercial, family, or neighborhood level, during extended periods of low petroleum availability or high petroleum costs.

(B)  a program of incentives and regulations may be established that would supplement existing private and public food production enterprises in a manner that would assure that soils are available that would be sufficient to provide locally or regionally the food necessary to feed at least 125 percent of the current population of the municipality for an indefinite period.

(C)  the program may assure the timely availability of other resources and skills that are necessary to implement local food supply plans, including:

(i)  the identification and timely procurement of rights to deploy a sufficient amount of functioning farming equipment for use to implement the local or regional food supply plan, including equipment that is not heavily dependent on petroleum or any other nonrenewable source of energy;

(ii)  the development of a communitywide farm resources management plan that is designed to coordinate with existing food production enterprises to identify and encourage the selection and implementation of farming techniques and practices that are not heavily dependent on petroleum or any other nonrenewable source of energy, and to do so in a manner that will develop local and regional food production resources and local and regional markets for local and regional food products as rapidly as is prudent, but at least at a rate that is sufficient to assure that as imported food becomes more expensive and market demand for local and regional products increases, more food will be able to be provided locally or regionally;

(iii)  a program of tax incentives or other inducements for obtaining landowner consent and binding commitments to make specified tillable land available for local or regional food production purposes during extended periods of low petroleum availability or high petroleum costs;

(iv)  a program to provide for the energy-efficient local or regional processing of local or regional food products, as may be necessary, and to make those local or regional food products available throughout the year;

(v)  a program to encourage widespread local use of local and regional food products by local and regional families as well as by schools and other institutional and municipal users and by private sector or nonprofit food vendors.

(D)  the plan may be adopted as part of a regional, interregional or an intraregional joint planning effort, in which case, the areas participating in the joint effort shall be considered local or regional for purposes of this subdivision (4).

Sec. 7.  24 V.S.A. § 4433 is amended to read:

§ 4433.  ADVISORY COMMISSIONS AND COMMITTEES

Municipalities may at any time create one or more advisory commissions, which for the purposes of this chapter include committees, or a combination of advisory commissions to assist the legislative body or the planning commission in preparing, adopting, and implementing the municipal plan.  Advisory commissions authorized under this section and under chapter 118 of this title may advise appropriate municipal panels, applicants, and interested parties in accordance with the procedures established under section 4464 of this title.

(1)  Creation of an advisory commission.  Advisory commissions not authorized in chapter 118 of this title shall be created as follows:

* * *

(B)  An advisory commission shall have not less than three members. All members should be residents of the municipality, except that historic preservation, design advisory, local food supply, or conservation commissions may be composed of professional and lay members, a majority of whom shall reside within the municipality creating the commission.

* * *

(6)  Powers and duties of local food supply commissions.  In addition to the requirements set forth in subdivision (2) of this section, all local food supply commissions shall:

(A)  to the extent possible, have among their members professionals in the fields of nutrition, agricultural management, farming techniques, food processing, and distribution practices, and other areas related to the implementation of the local food supply plan;

(B)  in conjunction with the regional planning commission, develop a recommended local food supply plan, which shall include a system that may be implemented during extended periods of low petroleum availability or high petroleum costs, which shall attempt to coordinate municipal efforts with those of others, and pursuant to which timely decisions shall be made with regard to the following:

(i)  what specific voluntarily committed lands that are not already actively farmed should become subject to active farming for local or regional food supply purposes and the recommended time frames for commencing active farming on those lands;

(ii)  what crops should be raised where, on voluntarily committed lands that are not currently subject to active farming, as necessary to supplement other efforts and assure that a range of food is available for the community;

(iii)  how best to allocate volunteer farm management personnel and farm workers, as well as municipal employees;

(iv)  the effective and efficient implementation of food distribution systems;

(v)  a system for addressing collateral implementation issues, such as the advisability of creating community bulk processing or slaughtering capabilities, as necessary to enable the yearlong availability of locally or regionally grown produce.

* * * Regional Planning * * *

Sec. 8.  24 V.S.A. § 4345a is amended to read:

§ 4345a.  DUTIES OF REGIONAL PLANNING COMMISSIONS

A regional planning commission created under this chapter shall:

* * *

(19)  Develop a regional food supply plan, assist municipalities in developing local food supply supply plans which may be constructed to replace or to supplement the locally applicable portion of the regional food supply plan, coordinate with the secretary of agriculture, food and markets with respect to the state food supply plan, and coordinate with the regional planning commissions of all adjoining regions with respect to opportunities and needs to share agricultural soils or other resources, between regions, as may be necessary in order to assure that all regions have convenient access to sufficient agricultural soils and other resources to allow successful implementation of regional food plans by all regions.  In developing a food supply plan, a regional planning commission may undertake a joint effort with an interested adjoining governmental unit from an adjoining state.  If a regional planning commission determines that it lacks sufficient available primary agricultural soils to develop an adequate regional food supply plan, it may make a declaration to that effect, notify the council of regional commissions of that declaration, and request the assistance of the council in developing an interregional solution to this problem.

(20)  Develop an inventory of the region’s fire and safety facilities, hospitals, rest homes, or other facilities for aging or disabled persons, correctional facilities, and emergency shelters; assure that an adequate number of emergency shelters are designated within the region to serve a substantial proportion of the region’s population in time of extended emergency; and work with regulated utilities, the department of public service, the department of public safety, potential developers of distributed power facilities, adjoining regional planning commissions, interested adjoining regional entities from adjoining states, and citizens of the region to propose and evaluate alternative sites for distributed power facilities that might provide uninterrupted renewable local or regional power at least for identified critical service providers in time of extended national, statewide, or regional power disruption or other emergency.  The commission shall work with the council of regional commissions to evaluate the proposals and recommendations from the various regions and from the departments of public service and public safety.

Sec. 9.  24 V.S.A. § 4348a(a) is amended to read:

(a)  A regional plan shall be consistent with the goals established in section 4302 of this title and shall include but need not be limited to the following:

(1)  A statement of basic policies of the region to guide the future growth and development of land and of public services and facilities, to facilitate the development and implementation of state, regional, and local food supply plans, and to protect the environment;

(2)  A land use element, which shall consist of a map and statement of present and prospective land uses:

(A)  indicating those areas proposed for forests, recreation, agriculture (using the agricultural lands identification process established in 6 V.S.A. § 8), residence, commerce, industry, public and semi-public uses, open spaces, and areas identified by the state, regional planning commissions or municipalities, which require special consideration for aquifer protection, wetland protection, state, regional, and local food supply plan implementation, the siting of facilities to provide locally generated, distributed power to critical regional service providers, or for other conservation purposes;

* * *

(D)  indicating those areas that have the potential to sustain agriculture and recommendations for maintaining them which may include transfer of development rights, acquisition of development rights, or farmer assistance programs.  Effective July 1, 2008, a regional plan shall not provide for the conversion of primary agricultural soils until the region has adopted a regional food supply plan and has determined that the primary agricultural soils planned for conversion to other uses will not be needed in order for all the municipalities in the region to be reasonably likely to be able to feed 125 percent of the current population for an indefinite period;

(3)  An energy element, which may include an analysis of energy resources, needs, scarcities, costs, and problems within the region, a statement of policy on the conservation of energy and the development of renewable energy resources, a statement of policy on the energy efficient implementation of state, regional, and local food supply plans during extended periods of low petroleum availability or high petroleum costs, and a statement of policy on patterns and densities of land use and control devices likely to result in efficient and effective implementation of state, regional, and local food supply plans and the conservation of energy;

(4)  A transportation element, which may consist of a statement of present and prospective transportation and circulation facilities, and a map showing existing and proposed highways, including limited access highways, and streets by type and character of improvement, and where pertinent, anticipated points of congestion, parking facilities, transit routes, terminals, bicycle paths and trails, scenic roads, airports, railroads, and port facilities, access to and protection of lands identified in state, regional, and local food supply plans, and other similar facilities or uses, and recommendations to meet future needs for such facilities, with indications of priorities of need, costs, and method of financing;

(5)  A utility and facility element, consisting of a map and statement of present and prospective local and regional community facilities and public utilities, whether publicly or privately owned, showing existing and proposed educational, recreational, and other public sites, buildings, and facilities, including public schools, state office buildings, hospitals, libraries, power generating plants, including renewable power facilities distributed so as to best serve critical local and regional service providers, and transmission lines, wireless telecommunications facilities and ancillary improvements, water supply, sewage disposal, refuse disposal, community compost development and management, community food processing facilities to implement state, regional, intraregional, and local food supply plans, storm drainage, and other similar facilities and activities, and recommendations to meet future needs for those facilities, with indications of priority of need;

(6)  A statement of policies on the preservation of rare and irreplaceable natural areas, and scenic and historic features and resources;

(7)  A program for the implementation of the regional plan’s objectives, including a recommended investment strategy for regional facilities and services based on a capacity study of the elements in this section;

(8)  A statement indicating how the regional plan relates to development trends, needs, and plans, state, regional, intraregional, and local food supply plans, and regional plans for adjacent municipalities and regions;

(9)  A housing element that identifies the need for housing for all economic groups in the region and communities.  In establishing the identified need, due consideration shall be given to data gathered pursuant to section 4382(c) of this title.  If no such data has been gathered, the regional planning commission shall gather it;

(10)  A regional food supply element which may be implemented during extended periods of low petroleum availability or high petroleum cost and which shall be adjusted to be consistent with local food supply plans, as those local plans are developed.  This element shall:  include an inventory of agricultural soils located in the region; encourage and provide for incentives and inducements for landowners to enter binding commitments to make specific land available for regional and local food production purposes; and take other steps necessary to establish a regional food supply plan adequate to feed the population of the region for an indefinite period.  The regional food supply plan may be adopted as part of a joint interregional effort, in which case the combined regions shall be considered one region, and any joint regional food supply plan shall be considered the food supply plan of each region for purposes of this subdivision.

* * * State Electrical Energy Plan * * *

Sec. 10.  30 V.S.A. § 202(c) and (d) are amended to read:

(c)  In developing the plan, the department shall take into account the protection of public health and safety; preservation of environmental quality; the potential for reduction of rates paid by all retail electricity customers; the potential for reduction of electrical demand through conservation, including alternative utility rate structures; use of load management technologies; efficiency of electrical usage; utilization of waste heat from generation; the siting of distributed renewable power facilities so as best to provide security for critical local and regional facilities, including fire and safety facilities, hospitals and community emergency shelters; conformance with state, regional, and local food supply plans, which includes interregional and intraregional food supply plans; and utility assistance to consumers in energy conservation.

(d)  In establishing plans, the director shall:

(1)  Consult with:

(A)  the public;

(B)  Vermont municipal utilities;

(C)  Vermont cooperative utilities;

(D)  Vermont investor-owned utilities;

(E)  Vermont electric transmission companies;

(F)  environmental and residential consumer advocacy groups active in electricity issues;

(G)  industrial customer representatives;

(H)  commercial customer representatives;

(I)  the public service board;

(J)  an entity designated to meet the public's need for energy efficiency services under subdivision 218c(a)(2) of this title;

(K)  other interested state agencies; and

(L)  other energy providers; and

(M)  the council of regional commissions.

* * *


* * * State Energy Plan * * *

Sec. 11.  30 V.S.A. § 202b(a) is amended to read:

(a)  The department of public service, in conjunction with other state agencies designated by the governor and in consultation with the council of regional commissions, shall prepare a comprehensive state energy plan covering at least a 20-year period.  The plan shall seek to implement the state energy policy set forth in section 202a of this title.  The plan shall include:

(1)  A comprehensive analysis and projections regarding the use, cost, supply, and environmental effects of all forms of energy resources used within Vermont.

(2)  Recommendations for state implementation actions, regulation, legislation, and other public and private action to carry out the comprehensive energy plan, including:

(A)  Specific recommendations regarding the potential for replacing petroleum‑based fuels and other fuels derived from nonrenewable sources of energy with biofuels or other renewable energy alternatives produced within the state.

(B)  Specific recommendations regarding how the state energy plan may best support the implementation of state, regional, and municipal local food supply plans, which includes interregional and intraregional planning efforts.

Sec. 12.  APPROPRIATION

The following sums are appropriated from the general fund in FY 2007 for purposes established in this act:  $30,000.00 is appropriated to the agency of agriculture, food and markets for developing agricultural lands criteria and developing the state food supply plan; $40,000.00 is appropriated to the council of regional commissions for coordination of food supply planning, distributed power planning, and water supply protection; $200,000.00 is appropriated to the department of housing and community affairs for disbursement to the regions and towns for food supply and distributed generation planning; and $50,000.00 is appropriated to the agency of natural resources for aquifer mapping.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us