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BILL AS INTRODUCED 2007-2008

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H.451

Introduced by   Representatives Leriche of Hardwick, Perry of Richford and Clarkson of Woodstock

Referred to Committee on

Date:

Subject:  Conservation; downtown chapter; Act 250; agricultural lands mitigation; wetlands mitigation; land gains tax; stormwater

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to acknowledge a category of designated “low impact development (LID) zones” that exist under the downtown chapter, and that includes “growth centers,” “downtowns,” “new town centers,” and “village centers,” and to establish an additional designation for “LID neighborhoods” within the category.  It proposes to broaden and enumerate benefits to which all LID zones will be entitled and to enumerate a school tax benefit to which LID neighborhoods will be entitled.  It proposes that agency of natural resources’ water and wastewater fees and Act 250 fees exclusively for housing developments shall be one-half the normal rate.  It proposes to expand the size of housing developments allowed before Act 250 jurisdiction takes effect.  It provides that housing units in any designated entity under the downtown chapter shall not be counted in determining jurisdiction over housing units outside a designated entity.  It proposes to require that Act 250 fees will be due in stages, with a small initial review fee, and the balance due in stages.  It proposes revisions in Act 250 criterion 9B to reduce review under the agricultural lands criteria, for applications that would be located in a designated entity and that contain fewer than 10 acres of agricultural lands that are not protected by conservation easement, and it would remove agricultural lands mitigation requirements for those proposals.  It proposes to put the burden on a housing opponent in appeals of agency of natural resources permits, Act 250 permits, and planning and zoning chapter permits.  It proposes to require a wetlands study to develop an MOU with the Army Corps of Engineers with a view to allowing conversion of wetlands in designated entities and establishing regional preapproved wetlands mitigation systems.  It requires urban stormwater rules to protect watersheds while allowing high density development of housing.  It proposes to exclude from the land gains tax lands upon which residential construction commences within two years.  It allows municipalities to retain for three years education property taxes collected on assessments within designated low impact development neighborhoods.

AN ACT RELATING TO DESIGNATED LOW IMPACT DEVELOPMENT NEIGHBORHOODS, AGRICULTURAL LANDS MITIGATION AND HOUSING UNDER ACT 250, LAND GAINS TAX EXEMPTIONS FOR HOUSING, AND OTHER HOUSING INCENTIVES

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


* * *  Downtown Chapter * * *

Sec. 1.  24 V.S.A. § 2791(15) and (16) are added to read:

(15)  “Low impact development neighborhood” means a specific and limited area of land identified on a map that is targeted for, and appropriate for, higher density residential development, redevelopment, or infill that is required to address identified housing needs, that is consistent with the municipal plan and the adopted zoning and subdivision regulations, and that contains substantially the following characteristics:

(A)  it is located within or adjacent to areas served by existing or planned infrastructure and in areas that are not more appropriately designated as downtown, village center, new town center, or growth center;

(B)  it has water and sewer capacity;

(C)  it complements an existing downtown, village center, new town center, or growth center within the municipality or a neighboring municipality designated under this chapter;

(D)  it is a design review district or overlay district under section 4414 of this title;

(E)  it is consistent with smart growth principles defined under this chapter;

(F)  it includes “neighborhood design principles,” as outlined in statute and defined in municipal neighborhood design standards, which may address factors, including the following:  neighborhood density; pedestrian scale and orientation; interconnected street and sidewalk or path networks; streetscape design; grid, block, and lot layout; house siting and design; housing types and affordability; neighborhood amenities; public spaces and buildings such as community centers, schools, parks, and playgrounds; and other allowed uses, such as neighborhood corner stores, cafés, personal services, and child care.

(16)  “Low impact development zones” means designated growth centers, downtowns, village centers, new town centers, and low impact development neighborhoods.

Sec. 2.  24 V.S.A. § 2793d is added to read:

§ 2793d.  DESIGNATION OF LOW IMPACT DEVELOPMENT

                 NEIGHBORHOODS

(a)  A town that has a duly adopted and approved plan and a planning process that is confirmed in accordance with section 4350 of this title may apply to the state board for designation of one or more low impact development neighborhoods.  An application for designation must include a map that delineates the boundaries of the low impact development neighborhood consistent with the definition of “low impact development neighborhood” provided in subdivision 2791(15) of this title and evidence that notice has been given to the regional planning commission and the regional development corporation of the intent to apply for this designation.

(b)  Within 45 days of receipt of a completed application, the state board shall designate a low impact development neighborhood if the state board finds the applicant has met the requirements of subsection (a) of this section.

(c)  A low impact development neighborhood designated by the state board pursuant to this section is eligible for the following development incentives and benefits:

(1)  Provided the proposal is eligible, priority consideration for municipal planning funds under section 4306 of this title for projects that are related to the designated low impact development.

(2)  Inclusion of a low impact development neighborhood, as defined in this chapter, as a priority growth center in the state’s consolidated plan for housing and community development programs.

(3)  The authority to create a special taxing district pursuant to chapter 87 of this title for the purpose of financing both capital and operating costs of a project within the boundaries established through low impact development designation.

(4)  Whenever the commissioner of the department of buildings and general services or other state officials in charge of selecting a site are planning to lease or construct buildings suitable to being located in a low impact development after determining that the option of utilizing existing space in a downtown development district or a village center is not feasible, the option of utilizing existing space in a designated low impact development neighborhood shall be given thorough investigation and priority, in consultation with the community.

(d)  The state board shall review a low impact development designation every three years.  If, at the time of the review, the state board determines that the low impact development no longer meets the standards for designation established in subsection (a) of this section, it may take any of the following actions:

(1)  require corrective action;

(2)  provide technical assistance through the Vermont downtown program; or

(3)  remove the low impact development’s designation, with that removal not affecting any of the low impact development’s previously awarded benefits.

(e)  A low impact development neighborhood designation may be made concurrently with any of the other designations established under this chapter.


* * * Agency of Natural Resources Fees * * *

Sec. 3.  3 V.S.A. § 2822(j) is amended to read:

(j)  In accordance with subsection (i) of this section, the following fees are established for permits, licenses, certifications, approvals, registrations, orders, and other actions taken by the agency of natural resources.

* * *

(3)  Notwithstanding other provisions of this section to the contrary, in the case of developments  in low impact development zones provided for under 24 V.S.A. chapter 76A, consisting exclusively of housing, fees assessed under subdivision (2) of this subsection regarding discharge permits, and those assessed under subdivision (4) of this subsection, regarding water supply and wastewater permits shall be one-half the amount specified in this subsection.

* * *

Sec. 4.  10 V.S.A. § 6001(3) is amended to read:

(3)(A)  “Development” means:

* * *

(B)  Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision (3)(A) of this section, if a project consists exclusively of any combination of mixed income housing or mixed use and is located entirely within a growth center designated pursuant to 24 V.S.A. § 2793c or within a downtown development district designated pursuant to 24 V.S.A. § 2793 low impact development zone as defined in 24 V.S.A. § 2791, “development” means:

(i)  Construction of mixed income housing with 100 or more housing units or a mixed use project with 100 or more housing units, in a municipality with a population of 20,000 12,000 or more.

(ii)  Construction of mixed income housing with 50 or more housing units or a mixed use project with 50 or more housing units, in a municipality with a population of 10,000 6,000 or more but less than 20,000 12,000.

(iii)  Construction of mixed income housing with 30 or more housing units or a mixed use project with 30 or more housing units, in a municipality with a population of 5,000 3,000 or more and less than 10,000 6,000.

(iv)  Construction of mixed income housing with 25 or more housing units or a mixed use project with 25 or more housing units, in a municipality of less than 5,000 3,000.

(v)  Construction of 10 or more units of mixed income housing or a mixed use project with 10 or more housing units where the construction involves the demolition of one or more buildings that are listed on or eligible to be listed on the state or national register of historic places, if the state division of historic preservation has not approved the demolition.

(C)  For the purposes of determining jurisdiction under subdivisions (3)(A) and (3)(B) of this section:

* * *

(ii)  Within any continuous period of five years, housing units constructed by a person entirely within a designated downtown district or designated growth center low impact development zone established under 24 V.S.A. chapter 76A shall not be counted together with housing units constructed by a person partially or completely outside a designated downtown development district or designated growth center to determine jurisdiction over the housing units constructed by a person partially or completely outside the designated downtown development district or designated growth center and within a five-mile radius.

* * *

Sec. 5.  10 V.S.A. § 6083a is amended to read:

§ 6083a.  ACT 250 FEES

* * *

(d)  Notwithstanding any other provision of this section to the contrary, to the extent that a development or subdivision is for housing and in a low impact development zone as established under 24 V.S.A. chapter 76A, the fees assessed under this section shall be one-half the amounts specified in this section.

* * *

(i)  Fees under this section for housing and mixed use developments within low impact development zones as provided for under 24 V.S.A. chapter 76A shall be due as follows:  a $250.00 review fee shall be due upon submission of an application, with any balance due with commencement of construction; provided that, at the request of the applicant, the balance may be paid in specific stages that correspond to each stand-alone segment of the proposed development, with each payment being due upon the commencement of construction of that stage.

Sec. 6.  10 V.S.A. § 6086(a)(9) is amended to read:

(9)  Is in conformance with a duly adopted capability and development plan, and land use plan when adopted.  However, the legislative findings of subdivisions 7(a)(1) through (19) of Act 85 of 1973 shall not be used as criteria in the consideration of applications by a district commission.

* * *

(B)  Primary agricultural soils. A permit will be granted for the development or subdivision of primary agricultural soils only when it is demonstrated by the applicant that, in addition to all other applicable criteria, either, the subdivision or development will not result in any reduction in the agricultural potential of the primary agricultural soils; or:

(i)  the development or subdivision will not significantly interfere with or jeopardize the continuation of agriculture or forestry on adjoining lands or reduce their agricultural or forestry potential; and or

(ii)  except in the case of an application for a project located in a any low impact development zone designated growth center under 24 V.S.A. chapter 76A that contains fewer than 10 acres of agricultural lands that are not protected by conservation easement, there are no lands other than primary agricultural soils owned or controlled by the applicant which are reasonably suited to the purpose of the development or subdivision; and

* * *

Sec. 7.  10 V.S.A. § 6093(c) is added to read:

(c)  Notwithstanding other provisions of this section to the contrary, any low impact development zone designated under 24  V.S.A. chapter 76A shall not be subject to mitigation requirements under subdivision (a)(1) of this section, if the designated area contains fewer than 10 acres of agricultural lands that are not protected by conservation easement.

Sec. 8.  10 V.S.A. § 8504(k) is amended to read:

(k)  Limitations on appeals. Notwithstanding any other provision of this section:

(1)  there shall be no appeal from a district commission decision when the commission has issued a permit and no hearing was requested or held, or no motion to alter was filed following the issuance of an administrative amendment;

(2)  a municipal decision regarding whether a particular application qualifies for a recorded hearing under 24 V.S.A. § 4471(b) shall not be subject to appeal;

(3)  if a district commission issues a partial decision under subsection 6086(b) of this title, any appeal of that decision must be taken within 30 days of the date of that decision;

(4)  to the extent that a development that is in a low impact development zone established under 24 V.S.A. chapter 76A consists only of housing in an appeal of any decision under Act 250, or an agency decision, or a decision under the planning and zoning chapter, or any combination of these decisions, a determination that is favorable to the developer of housing shall be presumed to be valid, and the burden of proof shall be on any party opposing the decision issued under subsection (l) of this section.

Sec. 9.  32 V.S.A. § 5402(c) is amended to read:

(c)  The treasurer of each municipality shall by December 1 of the year in which the tax is levied and on June 1 of the following year pay to the state treasurer for deposit in the education fund one-half of the municipality’s statewide nonresidential tax and one-half of the municipality’s homestead education tax, as determined under subdivision (b)(1) of this section, except that the municipality may retain any education property taxes collected on assessments on any parcels within an area designated by the Vermont downtown development board as a low impact development neighborhood under 24 V.S.A. § 2793d in the first three years beginning with the year of designation.  The commissioner of education shall determine the municipality’s net nonresidential education tax payment, and its net homestead education tax payment to the state, and payment shall be accompanied by a return prescribed by the commissioner of education.  The municipality may retain one-eighth of one percent of the total education tax collected, only upon timely remittance of net payment to the state treasurer.

Sec. 10.  32 V.S.A. § 10002(o) is added to read:

(o)  Also excluded from the definition of land is a parcel in a low impact development zone established under 24 V.S.A. chapter 76A on which the purchaser shall, within two years from the date of acquisition, construct a single-family or multi-family residential building or buildings.  If a residential building or buildings are not constructed on the parcel and available for occupancy within two years of the date of transfer, the tax imposed by this chapter shall become due and payable.

Sec. 11.  WETLANDS STUDY

The secretary of natural resources, in conjunction with the chair of the natural resources panel and a representative of the housing and conservation board, shall meet with representatives of the Army Corps of Engineers to develop a memorandum of understanding that, together with any required statutory revisions and rule amendments, will establish a preapproved wetlands mitigation strategy to apply regionally, that will allow the conversion of Class III wetlands that are located in any area that is zoned for development that is located in any low impact development zone under 24 V.S.A. chapter 76A.  The secretary shall present to the legislative committees on natural resources and energy and to the house committee on fish, wildlife and water resources any proposed statutory changes that are deemed necessary in order for the MOU to take effect.

Sec. 12.  STORMWATER RULES

The secretary of natural resources shall develop urban stormwater rules to apply in areas designated under 24 V.S.A. chapter 76A, so as to protect watersheds, while at the same time allowing for high density development of housing in low impact development zones established under 24 V.S.A. chapter 76A.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us