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Vermont Senate approves housing bill aimed at spurring construction

An apartment building under construction, missing siding in some areas
Elodie Reed
/
Vermont Public File
An apartment building under construction in Burlington in 2019.

The Vermont Senate this week advanced legislation that tries to quicken the pace of housing development by rolling back some state and local permitting requirements.

Some lawmakers are worried that the Act 250 overhauls in the housing bill will lead to sprawl and environmental degradation.

Others say the legislation doesn’t do enough to unburden would-be developers from the bureaucratic red tape that can slow the construction of affordable housing.

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Baruth says diverging opinions of the bill means the Senate likely found an appropriate middle ground.

“I think it will make a huge difference," Baruth said. "But it won’t make the kind of difference that we will regret 20 years down the road when it’s too late.”

The bill passed Friday by a vote of 27-2.

The legislation heads next to the House of Representatives, where some lawmakers and housing advocates will be pushing for more aggressive changes to the Act 250 process.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or get in touch with reporter Peter Hirschfeld:

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The Vermont Statehouse is often called the people’s house. I am your eyes and ears there. I keep a close eye on how legislation could affect your life; I also regularly speak to the people who write that legislation.
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