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Searching 2017-2018 Session

The Vermont Statutes Online

Title 10 : Conservation and Development

Chapter 151 : STATE LAND USE AND DEVELOPMENT PLANS

Subchapter 004 : PERMITS

(Cite as: 10 V.S.A. § 6086)
  • § 6086. Issuance of permit; conditions and criteria

    (a) Before granting a permit, the District Commission shall find that the subdivision or development:

    (1) Will not result in undue water or air pollution. In making this determination it shall at least consider: the elevation of land above sea level; and in relation to the flood plains, the nature of soils and subsoils and their ability to adequately support waste disposal; the slope of the land and its effect on effluents; the availability of streams for disposal of effluents; and the applicable Health and Environmental Conservation Department regulations.

    (A) Headwaters. A permit will be granted whenever it is demonstrated by the applicant that, in addition to all other applicable criteria, the development or subdivision will meet any applicable Health and Environmental Conservation Department regulation regarding reduction of the quality of the ground or surface waters flowing through or upon lands which are not devoted to intensive development, and which lands are:

    (i) headwaters of watersheds characterized by steep slopes and shallow soils; or

    (ii) drainage areas of 20 square miles or less; or

    (iii) above 1,500 feet elevation; or

    (iv) watersheds of public water supplies designated by the Agency of Natural Resources; or

    (v) areas supplying significant amounts of recharge waters to aquifers.

    (B) Waste disposal. A permit will be granted whenever it is demonstrated by the applicant that, in addition to all other applicable criteria, the development or subdivision will meet any applicable Health and Environmental Conservation Department regulations regarding the disposal of wastes, and will not involve the injection of waste materials or any harmful or toxic substances into ground water or wells.

    (C) Water conservation. A permit will be granted whenever it is demonstrated by the applicant that, in addition to all other applicable criteria, the design has considered water conservation, incorporates multiple use or recycling where technically and economically practical, utilizes the best available technology for such applications, and provides for continued efficient operation of these systems.

    (D) Floodways. A permit will be granted whenever it is demonstrated by the applicant that, in addition to all other applicable criteria:

    (i) the development or subdivision of lands within a floodway will not restrict or divert the flow of flood waters, and endanger the health, safety and welfare of the public or of riparian owners during flooding; and

    (ii) the development or subdivision of lands within a floodway fringe will not significantly increase the peak discharge of the river or stream within or downstream from the area of development and endanger the health, safety, or welfare of the public or riparian owners during flooding.

    (E) Streams. A permit will be granted whenever it is demonstrated by the applicant that, in addition to all other applicable criteria, the development or subdivision of lands on or adjacent to the banks of a stream will, whenever feasible, maintain the natural condition of the stream, and will not endanger the health, safety, or welfare of the public or of adjoining landowners.

    (F) Shorelines. A permit will be granted whenever it is demonstrated by the applicant that, in addition to all other criteria, the development or subdivision of shorelines must of necessity be located on a shoreline in order to fulfill the purpose of the development or subdivision, and the development or subdivision will, insofar as possible and reasonable in light of its purpose:

    (i) retain the shoreline and the waters in their natural condition;

    (ii) allow continued access to the waters and the recreational opportunities provided by the waters;

    (iii) retain or provide vegetation which will screen the development or subdivision from the waters; and

    (iv) stabilize the bank from erosion, as necessary, with vegetation cover.

    (G) Wetlands. A permit will be granted whenever it is demonstrated by the applicant, in addition to other criteria, that the development or subdivision will not violate the rules of the Secretary of Natural Resources, as adopted under chapter 37 of this title, relating to significant wetlands.

    (2) Does have sufficient water available for the reasonably foreseeable needs of the subdivision or development.

    (3) Will not cause an unreasonable burden on an existing water supply, if one is to be utilized.

    (4) Will not cause unreasonable soil erosion or reduction in the capacity of the land to hold water so that a dangerous or unhealthy condition may result.

    (5)(A) Will not cause unreasonable congestion or unsafe conditions with respect to use of the highways, waterways, railways, airports and airways, and other means of transportation existing or proposed.

    (B) As appropriate, will incorporate transportation demand management strategies and provide safe access and connections to adjacent lands and facilities and to existing and planned pedestrian, bicycle, and transit networks and services. In determining appropriateness under this subdivision (B), the District Commission shall consider whether such a strategy, access, or connection constitutes a measure that a reasonable person would take given the type, scale, and transportation impacts of the proposed development or subdivision.

    (6) Will not cause an unreasonable burden on the ability of a municipality to provide educational services.

    (7) Will not place an unreasonable burden on the ability of the local governments to provide municipal or governmental services.

    (8) Will not have an undue adverse effect on the scenic or natural beauty of the area, aesthetics, historic sites or rare and irreplaceable natural areas.

    (A) Necessary wildlife habitat and endangered species. A permit will not be granted if it is demonstrated by any party opposing the applicant that a development or subdivision will destroy or significantly imperil necessary wildlife habitat or any endangered species; and

    (i) the economic, social, cultural, recreational, or other benefit to the public from the development or subdivision will not outweigh the economic, environmental, or recreational loss to the public from the destruction or imperilment of the habitat or species; or

    (ii) all feasible and reasonable means of preventing or lessening the destruction, diminution, or imperilment of the habitat or species have not been or will not continue to be applied; or

    (iii) a reasonably acceptable alternative site is owned or controlled by the applicant which would allow the development or subdivision to fulfill its intended purpose.

    (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.

    (A) Impact of growth. In considering an application, the District Commission shall take into consideration the growth in population experienced by the town and region in question and whether or not the proposed development would significantly affect their existing and potential financial capacity to reasonably accommodate both the total growth and the rate of growth otherwise expected for the town and region and the total growth and rate of growth which would result from the development if approved. After considering anticipated costs for education, highway access and maintenance, sewage disposal, water supply, police and fire services, and other factors relating to the public health, safety, and welfare, the District Commission shall impose conditions which prevent undue burden upon the town and region in accommodating growth caused by the proposed development or subdivision. Notwithstanding section 6088 of this title, the burden of proof that proposed development will significantly affect existing or potential financial capacity of the town and region to accommodate such growth is upon any party opposing an application, excepting however, where the town has a duly adopted capital improvement program the burden shall be on the applicant.

    (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;

    (ii) except in the case of an application for a project located in a designated area listed in subdivision 6093(a)(1) of this title, 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;

    (iii) except in the case of an application for a project located in a designated area listed in subdivision 6093(a)(1) of this title, the subdivision or development has been planned to minimize the reduction of agricultural potential of the primary agricultural soils through innovative land use design resulting in compact development patterns, so that the remaining primary agricultural soils on the project tract are capable of supporting or contributing to an economic or commercial agricultural operation; and

    (iv) suitable mitigation will be provided for any reduction in the agricultural potential of the primary agricultural soils caused by the development or subdivision, in accordance with section 6093 of this title and rules adopted by the Natural Resources Board.

    (C) Productive forest soils. A permit will be granted for the development or subdivision of productive forest 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 potential of those soils for commercial forestry; 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

    (ii) except in the case of an application for a project located in a designated growth center, there are no lands other than productive forest soils owned or controlled by the applicant which are reasonably suited to the purpose of the development or subdivision; and

    (iii) except in the case of an application for a project located in a designated growth center, the subdivision or development has been planned to minimize the reduction of the potential of those productive forest soils through innovative land use design resulting in compact development patterns, so that the remaining forest soils on the project tract may contribute to a commercial forestry operation.

    (D) Earth resources. A permit will be granted whenever it is demonstrated by the applicant, in addition to all other applicable criteria, that the development or subdivision of lands with high potential for extraction of mineral or earth resources, will not prevent or significantly interfere with the subsequent extraction or processing of the mineral or earth resources.

    (E) Extraction of earth resources. A permit will be granted for the extraction or processing of mineral and earth resources, including fissionable source material:

    (i) When it is demonstrated by the applicant that, in addition to all other applicable criteria, the extraction or processing operation and the disposal of waste will not have an unduly harmful impact upon the environment or surrounding land uses and development; and

    (ii) Upon approval by the District Commission of a site rehabilitation plan that ensures that upon completion of the extracting or processing operation the site will be left by the applicant in a condition suited for an approved alternative use or development. A permit will not be granted for the recovery or extraction of mineral or earth resources from beneath natural water bodies or impoundments within the State, except that gravel, silt, and sediment may be removed pursuant to the rules of the Agency of Natural Resources, and natural gas and oil may be removed pursuant to the rules of the Natural Gas and Oil Resources Board.

    (F) Energy conservation. A permit will be granted when it has been demonstrated by the applicant that, in addition to all other applicable criteria, the planning and design of the subdivision or development reflect the principles of energy conservation, including reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from the use of energy, and incorporate the best available technology for efficient use or recovery of energy. An applicant seeking an affirmative finding under this criterion shall provide evidence that the subdivision or development complies with the applicable building energy standards under 30 V.S.A. § 51 or 53.

    (G) Private utility services. A permit will be granted for a development or subdivision which relies on privately owned utility services or facilities, including central sewage or water facilities and roads, whenever it is demonstrated by the applicant that, in addition to all other applicable criteria, the privately owned utility services or facilities are in conformity with a capital program or plan of the municipality involved, or adequate surety is provided to the municipality and conditioned to protect the municipality in the event that the municipality is required to assume the responsibility for the services or facilities.

    (H) Costs of scattered development. The District Commission will grant a permit for a development or subdivision which is not physically contiguous to an existing settlement whenever it is demonstrated that, in addition to all other applicable criteria, the additional costs of public services and facilities caused directly or indirectly by the proposed development or subdivision do not outweigh the tax revenue and other public benefits of the development or subdivision such as increased employment opportunities or the provision of needed and balanced housing accessible to existing or planned employment centers.

    (J) Public utility services. A permit will be granted for a development or subdivision whenever it is demonstrated that, in addition to all other applicable criteria, necessary supportive governmental and public utility facilities and services are available or will be available when the development is completed under a duly adopted capital program or plan, an excessive or uneconomic demand will not be placed on such facilities and services, and the provision of such facilities and services has been planned on the basis of a projection of reasonable population increase and economic growth.

    (K) Development affecting public investments. A permit will be granted for the development or subdivision of lands adjacent to governmental and public utility facilities, services, and lands, including highways, airports, waste disposal facilities, office and maintenance buildings, fire and police stations, universities, schools, hospitals, prisons, jails, electric generating and transmission facilities, oil and gas pipe lines, parks, hiking trails and forest and game lands, when it is demonstrated that, in addition to all other applicable criteria, the development or subdivision will not unnecessarily or unreasonably endanger the public or quasi-public investment in the facility, service, or lands, or materially jeopardize or interfere with the function, efficiency, or safety of, or the public's use or enjoyment of or access to the facility, service, or lands.

    (L) Settlement patterns. To promote Vermont's historic settlement pattern of compact village and urban centers separated by rural countryside, a permit will be granted for a development or subdivision outside an existing settlement when it is demonstrated by the applicant that, in addition to all other applicable criteria, the development or subdivision:

    (i) will make efficient use of land, energy, roads, utilities, and other supporting infrastructure; and

    (ii)(I) will not contribute to a pattern of strip development along public highways; or

    (II) if the development or subdivision will be confined to an area that already constitutes strip development, will incorporate infill as defined in 24 V.S.A. § 2791 and is designed to reasonably minimize the characteristics listed in the definition of strip development under subdivision 6001(36) of this title.

    (10) Is in conformance with any duly adopted local or regional plan or capital program under 24 V.S.A. chapter 117. In making this finding, if the District Commission finds applicable provisions of the town plan to be ambiguous, the District Commission, for interpretive purposes, shall consider bylaws, but only to the extent that they implement and are consistent with those provisions, and need not consider any other evidence.

    (b) At the request of an applicant, or upon its own motion, the District Commission shall consider whether to review any criterion or group of criteria of subsection (a) of this section before proceeding to or continuing to review other criteria. This request or motion may be made at any time prior to or during the proceedings. The District Commission, in its sole discretion, shall, within 20 days of the completion of deliberations on the criteria that are the subject of the request or motion, either issue its findings and decision thereon, or proceed to a consideration of the remaining criteria.

    (c) A permit may contain such requirements and conditions as are allowable proper exercise of the police power and which are appropriate within the respect to subdivisions (a)(1) through (10) of this section, including those set forth in 24 V.S.A. §§ 4414(4), 4424(a)(2), 4414(1)(D)(i), 4463(b), and 4464, the dedication of lands for public use, and the filing of bonds to insure compliance. The requirements and conditions incorporated from Title 24 may be applied whether or not a local plan has been adopted. General requirements and conditions may be established by rule of the Natural Resources Board.

    (d) The Natural Resources Board may by rule allow the acceptance of a permit or permits or approval of any State agency with respect to subdivisions (a)(1) through (5) of this section or a permit or permits of a specified municipal government with respect to subdivisions (a)(1) through (7) and (9) and (10) of this section, or a combination of such permits or approvals, in lieu of evidence by the applicant. A District Commission, in accordance with rules adopted by the Board, shall accept determinations issued by a development review board under the provisions of 24 V.S.A. § 4420, with respect to local Act 250 review of municipal impacts. The acceptance of such approval, positive determinations, permit, or permits shall create a presumption that the application is not detrimental to the public health and welfare with respect to the specific requirement for which it is accepted. In the case of approvals and permits issued by the Agency of Natural Resources, technical determinations of the Agency shall be accorded substantial deference by the Commissions. The acceptance of negative determinations issued by a development review board under the provisions of 24 V.S.A. § 4420, with respect to local Act 250 review of municipal impacts shall create a presumption that the application is detrimental to the public health and welfare with respect to the specific requirement for which it is accepted. Any determinations, positive or negative, under the provisions of 24 V.S.A. § 4420 shall create presumptions only to the extent that the impacts under the criteria are limited to the municipality issuing the decision. Such a rule may be revoked or amended pursuant to the procedures set forth in 3 V.S.A., chapter 25, the Vermont Administrative Procedure Act. The rules adopted by the Board shall not approve the acceptance of a permit or approval of such an agency or a permit of a municipal government unless it satisfies the appropriate requirements of subsection (a) of this section.

    (e) This subsection shall apply with respect to a development that consists of the construction of temporary physical improvements for the purpose of producing films, television programs, or advertisements. These improvements shall be considered "temporary improvements" if they remain in place for less than one year, unless otherwise extended by the permit or a permit amendment, and will not cause a long-term adverse impact under any of the 10 criteria after completion of the project. In situations where this subsection applies, jurisdiction under this chapter shall not continue after the improvements are no longer in place and the conditions in the permit have been met, provided there is not a long-term adverse impact under any of the 10 criteria after completion of the project; except, however, if jurisdiction is otherwise established under this chapter, this subsection shall not remove jurisdiction. This termination of jurisdiction in these situations does not represent legislative intent with respect to continuing jurisdiction over other types of development not specified in this subsection.

    (f) Prior to any appeal of a permit issued by a District Commission, any aggrieved party may file a request for a stay of construction with the District Commission together with a declaration of intent to appeal the permit. The stay request shall be automatically granted for seven days upon receipt and notice to all parties and pending a ruling on the merits of the stay request pursuant to Board rules. The automatic stay shall not extend beyond the 30-day appeal period unless a valid appeal has been filed with the Environmental Division. The automatic stay may be granted only once under this subsection during the 30-day appeal period. Following appeal of the District Commission decision, any stay request must be filed with the Environmental Division pursuant to the provisions of chapter 220 of this title. A District Commission shall not stay construction authorized by a permit processed under the Board's minor application procedures. (Added 1969, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.), § 12, eff. April 4, 1970; amended 1973, No. 85, § 10; 1973, No. 195 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. April 2, 1974; 1979, No. 123 (Adj. Sess.), § 5, eff. April 14, 1980; 1981, No. 240 (Adj. Sess.), § 7, eff. April 28, 1982; 1985, No. 52, § 4, eff. May 15, 1985; 1985, No. 188 (Adj. Sess.), § 5; 1987, No. 76, § 18; 1989, No. 234 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 1989, No. 280 (Adj. Sess.), § 13; 1993, No. 232 (Adj. Sess.), § 32, eff. March 15, 1995, 2001, No. 40, §§ 6-9; 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 56, eff. Jan. 31, 2005; 2005, No. 183 (Adj. Sess.), § 7; 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 236; 2011, No. 138 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 16, 27, eff. May 14, 2012; 2013, No. 11, § 25; 2013, No. 89, §§ 10, 11; 2013, No. 147 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. June 1, 2014; 2015, No. 51, § F.7.)