Act 250, Vermont's land use law, requires that people obtain a Land Use Permit from the District Environmental Commission or (on appeal) the Vermont Environmental Court prior to commencing a major development or subdivision. Such a permit is in addition to any local zoning or subdivision permits needed. To see if a project would trigger Act 250 jurisdiction, applicants can obtain a final Jurisdictional Opinion (JO). For more information on JOs, please go use the Frequently Asked Questions link below. Applicants can also ask Act 250 staff to prepare a "project review sheet" which lists other state permits that may be necessary.
In addition to the Commission/Court, parties that may be involved in the review of a project include State Agencies, the TRORC, the Town Selectboard and Planning Commission where the project is to be located, abutters, and other potentially affected individuals or organizations. Prior to granting a permit, affirmative findings must be made with respect to ten criteria contained in the law (10 VSA Section 6086, see link below). Generally, these relate to the environmental, economic and social effects of the project on the community, Region, and State. Included amongst these is a determination on whether the development or subdivision is in conformance with the local Town Plan and Regional Plan (criterion 10).
We strongly encourage applicants to review the language in their local Town Plans and the Regional Plan prior to preparing an application. Many Town Plans can be found under the town’s name at www.trorc.org. The Regional Plan is at http://www.trorc.org/pubsrp.html and Regional Plan future land use area maps can be found on each of town map pages on this website.
Applicants have the legal burden to demonstrate that the intended use meets with the goals and policies expressed in the Regional Plan. Regional Commission staff can offer informal advice when projects are being conceived, which may save much time and money during the permitting process. Applicants are also encouraged to contact the District Environmental Commission staff and the ANR Permit Specialists early in project development in order to avoid costly and time-consuming delays.
The Vermont Land Use Panel of the Natural Resource Board - The Statute - Online version of Vermont's Land Use and Development Law, including all amendments.
The Vermont Environmental Commissions’ District Map - Online map of Act 250 districts and contact information.
Act 250 Guide - An informational guide to Act 250 and Vermont's Land Use Laws.
10 Criteria of Act 250 - Before an Act 250 permit can be issued, an applicant must show that a project conforms with the 10 criteria found in Subchapter 4 of the act. This link lists those criteria.
Act 250 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) - The Vermont Land Use Panel of the Natural Resource Board offers this list of common questions about Act 250 and the Act 250 Permit process.
Act 250 Application Forms & Guide - Allows the user to download Act 250 forms including the short form application, extension application and the communication facilities application, in multiple formats. Also available is the "The Guide To Applying for an Act 250 Permit", a comprehensive guide to filling out the Act 250 application forms, including contact information for other state agencies. The Guide is particularly helpful for first time applicants.
Act 250 Database - Allows users to find pending permits and issued decisions.
Vermont Environmental Court - The Vermont Environmental Court offers this website for appeals of Act 250 decisions.
Act 250 Electronic Submission Guidelines
Vermont Act 250 Handbook: A guide to State and Regional Land Use Regulation, by Cindy Corlett Argentine. Published by and available through Putney Press.