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Searching 2017-2018 Session

The Vermont Statutes Online

Title 10 : Conservation and Development

Chapter 220 : CONSOLIDATED ENVIRONMENTAL APPEALS

(Cite as: 10 V.S.A. § 8504)
  • § 8504. Appeals to the Environmental Division

    (a) Act 250 and Agency appeals. Within 30 days of the date of the act or decision, any person aggrieved by an act or decision of the Secretary, a District Commission, or a district coordinator under the provisions of law listed in section 8503 of this title, or any party by right, may appeal to the Environmental Division, except for an act or decision of the Secretary under subdivision 6086b(3)(E) of this title or governed by section 8506 of this title.

    (b) Planning and zoning chapter appeals.

    (1) Within 30 days of the date of the act or decision, an interested person, as defined in 24 V.S.A. § 4465, who has participated as defined in 24 V.S.A. § 4471 in the municipal regulatory proceeding under that chapter may appeal to the Environmental Division an act or decision made under that chapter by a board of adjustment, a planning commission, or a development review board; provided, however, that decisions of a development review board under 24 V.S.A. § 4420 with respect to local Act 250 review of municipal impacts are not subject to appeal but shall serve as presumptions under chapter 151 of this title.

    (2) Notwithstanding subdivision (1) of this subsection, an interested person may appeal an act or decision under 24 V.S.A. chapter 117 if the Environmental judge determines that:

    (A) there was a procedural defect which prevented the person from obtaining interested person status or participating in the proceeding;

    (B) the decision being appealed is the grant or denial of interested person status; or

    (C) some other condition exists which would result in manifest injustice if the person's right to appeal was disallowed.

    (c) Notice of the filing of an appeal.

    (1) Upon filing an appeal from an act or decision of the District Commission, the appellant shall notify all parties who had party status as of the end of the District Commission proceeding, all friends of the Commission, and the Natural Resources Board that an appeal is being filed. In addition, the appellant shall publish notice not more than 10 days after providing notice as required under this subsection, at the appellant's expense, in a newspaper of general circulation in the area of the project which is the subject of the decision.

    (2) Upon the filing of an appeal from the act or decision of the Secretary under the provisions of law listed in section 8503 of this title, the appellant shall provide notice of the filing of an appeal to the following persons: the applicant before the Agency of Natural Resources, if other than the appellant; the owner of the land where the project is located if the applicant is not the owner; the municipality in which the project is located; the municipal and regional planning commissions for the municipality in which the project is located; if the project site is located on a boundary, any adjacent Vermont municipality and the municipal and regional planning commissions for that municipality; any State agency affected; the solid waste management district in which the project is located, if the project constitutes a facility pursuant to subdivision 6602(10) of this title; all persons required to receive notice of receipt of an application or notice of the issuance of a draft permit; and all persons on any mailing list for the decision involved. In addition, the appellant shall publish notice not more than 10 days after providing notice as required under this subsection, at the appellant's expense, in a newspaper of general circulation in the area of the project which is the subject of the decision.

    (3) In the case of appeals under 24 V.S.A. chapter 117, notice shall be as required under 24 V.S.A. § 4471.

    Subsection (d) effective until January 1, 2018; see also subsection (d) effective January 1, 2018 set out below.

    (d) Requirement that aggrieved Act 250 parties participate before the District Commission.

    (1) No aggrieved person may appeal an act or decision that was made by a District Commission unless the person was granted party status by the District Commission pursuant to subdivision 6085(c)(1)(E) of this title, participated in the proceedings before the District Commission, and retained party status at the end of the District Commission proceedings. In addition, the person may only appeal those issues under the criteria with respect to which the person was granted party status.

    (2) Notwithstanding subdivision (d)(1) of this section, an aggrieved person may appeal an act or decision of the District Commission if the Environmental judge determines that:

    (A) there was a procedural defect which prevented the person from obtaining party status or participating in the proceeding;

    (B) the decision being appealed is the grant or denial of party status; or

    (C) some other condition exists which would result in manifest injustice if the person's right to appeal was disallowed.

    Subsection (d) effective January 1, 2018; see also subsection (d) effective until January 1, 2018 set out above.

    (d) Requirement to participate before the District Commission or the Secretary.

    (1) Participation before District Commission. An aggrieved person shall not appeal an act or decision that was made by a District Commission unless the person was granted party status by the District Commission pursuant to subdivision 6085(c)(1)(E) of this title, participated in the proceedings before the District Commission, and retained party status at the end of the District Commission proceedings. In addition, the person may only appeal those issues under the criteria with respect to which the person was granted party status. However, notwithstanding these limitations, an aggrieved person may appeal an act or decision of the District Commission if the Environmental judge determines that:

    (A) there was a procedural defect that prevented the person from obtaining party status or participating in the proceeding;

    (B) the decision being appealed is the grant or denial of party status; or

    (C) some other condition exists which would result in manifest injustice if the person's right to appeal was disallowed.

    (2) Participation before the Secretary.

    (A) An aggrieved person shall not appeal an act or decision of the Secretary unless the person submitted to the Secretary a written comment during the comment period or an oral comment at the public meeting conducted by the Secretary. In addition, the person may only appeal issues related to the person's comment to the Secretary.

    (i) To be sufficient for the purpose of appeal, a comment to the Secretary shall identify each reasonably ascertainable issue with enough particularity so that a meaningful response can be provided.

    (ii) The appellant shall identify each comment that the appellant submitted to the Secretary that identifies or relates to an issue raised in his or her appeal.

    (iii) A person moving to dismiss an appeal or an issue raised by an appeal pursuant to this subdivision (A) shall have the burden to prove that the requirements of this subdivision (A) are not satisfied.

    (B) Notwithstanding the limitations of subdivision (2)(A) of this subsection, an aggrieved person may appeal an act or decision of the Secretary if the Environmental judge determines that:

    (i) there was a procedural defect that prevented the person from commenting during the comment period or at the public meeting or otherwise participating in the proceeding;

    (ii) the Secretary did not conduct a comment period and did not hold a public meeting;

    (iii) the person demonstrates that an issue was not reasonably ascertainable during the review of an application or other request that led to the Secretary's act or decision; or

    (iv) some other condition exists which would result in manifest injustice if the person's right to appeal was disallowed.

    (e) Act 250 jurisdictional determinations by a district coordinator.

    (1) The appellant shall provide notice of the filing of an appeal to each person entitled to notice under subdivisions 6085(c)(1)(A) through (D) of this title, to each person on an approved subdivision 6085(c)(1)(E) list, and to the Natural Resources Board.

    (2) Failure to appeal within the time required under subsection (a) of this section shall render the decision of the district coordinator under subsection 6007(c) of this title the final determination regarding jurisdiction under chapter 151 of this title unless the underlying jurisdictional opinion was not properly served on persons listed in subdivisions 6085(c)(1)(A) through (D) of this title and on persons on a subdivision 6085(c)(1)(E) list approved under subsection 6007(c) of this title.

    (f) Stays.

    (1) The filing of an appeal shall automatically stay the act or decision in the following situations:

    (A) acts or decisions involving stream alteration permits or shoreline encroachment permits issued by the Secretary;

    (B) the denial of interested person status by a board of adjustment, planning commission, or development review board.

    (2) Upon petition by a party or upon its own motion for a stay of an act or decision, the Environmental Division shall perform the initial review of the request and may grant a stay. Any decision under this subsection to issue a stay shall be subject to appeal to the Supreme Court according to the Rules of Appellate Procedure.

    (g) Consolidated appeals. The Environmental Division may consolidate or coordinate different appeals where those appeals all relate to the same project.

    (h) De novo hearing. The Environmental Division, applying the substantive standards that were applicable before the tribunal appealed from, shall hold a de novo hearing on those issues which have been appealed, except in the case of:

    (1) a decision being appealed on the record pursuant to 24 V.S.A. chapter 117;

    (2) a decision of the Commissioner of Forests, Parks and Recreation under section 2625 of this title being appealed on the record, in which case the court shall affirm the decision, unless it finds that the Commissioner did not have reasonable grounds on which to base the decision.

    (i) Deference to Agency technical determinations. In the adjudication of appeals relating to land use permits under chapter 151 of this title, technical determinations of the Secretary shall be accorded the same deference as they are accorded by a District Commission under subsection 6086(d) of this title.

    (j) Appeals of authorizations or coverage under a general permit. Any appeal of an authorization or coverage under the terms of a general permit shall be limited in scope to whether the permitted activity complies with the terms and conditions of the general permit.

    (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.

    ( l ) Representation. The Secretary may represent the Agency of Natural Resources in all appeals under this section. The Chair of the Natural Resources Board may represent the Board in any appeal under this section, unless the Board directs otherwise. If more than one State agency, other than the Board, either appeals or seeks to intervene in an appeal under this section, only the Attorney General may represent the interests of those agencies of the State in the appeal.

    (m) Precedent. Prior decisions of the Environmental Board, Water Resources Board, and Waste Facilities Panel shall be given the same weight and consideration as prior decisions of the Environmental Division.

    (n) Intervention. Any person may intervene in a pending appeal if that person:

    (1) appeared as a party in the action appealed from and retained party status;

    (2) is a party by right;

    (3) is the Natural Resources Board;

    (4) is a person aggrieved, as defined in this chapter;

    (5) qualifies as an "interested person," as established in 24 V.S.A. § 4465, with respect to appeals under 24 V.S.A. chapter 117; or

    (6) meets the standard for intervention established in the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure.

    (o) With respect to review of an act or decision of the Secretary pursuant to 3 V.S.A. § 2809, the Division may reverse the act or decision or amend an allocation of costs to an applicant only if the Division determines that the act, decision, or allocation was arbitrary, capricious, or an abuse of discretion. In the absence of such a determination, the Division shall require the applicant to pay the Secretary all costs assessed pursuant to 3 V.S.A. § 2809.

    Subsection (p) effective January 1, 2018.

    (p) Administrative record. The Secretary shall certify the administrative record as defined in chapter 170 of this title and shall transfer a certified copy of that record to the Environmental Division when:

    (1) there is an appeal of an act or decision of the Secretary that is based on that record; or

    (2) there is an appeal of a decision of a District Commission and the applicant used a decision of the Secretary based on that record to create a presumption under a criterion of subsection 6086(a) of this title that is at issue in the appeal. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 74, eff. Jan. 31, 2005; amended 2009, No. 146 (Adj. Sess.), §§ F15, F24; 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 236; 2009, No. 159 (Adj. Sess.), § 17; 2013, No. 11, § 24; 2013, No. 147 (Adj. Sess.), § 8, eff. June 1, 2014; 2015, No. 150 (Adj. Sess.), § 5, eff. Jan. 1, 2018; 2015, No. 150 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 36, 37, eff. May 31, 2016.)