Building Homes Together Seeks More Affordable Housing

Brenda Torpy, chief executive officer of Champlain Housing Trust, answers questions from reporters at Monday’s announcement.  - Photo by Alicia Freese/Seven Days

A group of housing advocates, elected officials, developers and other local leaders are banding together to get 3,500 homes built in Chittenden County over the next five years.
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Lt. Gov. Candidate David Zuckerman Appears on the Chittenden County Democrats Show

Chittenden County Senator David Zuckerman (P/D) is running in the Democratic Primary for Lt. Governor.  Zuckerman was recently interviewed on the June 6, 20116, Chittenden County Democrats Show by host Bob Hooper. The show is running a series on the Democratic Lt. Governor's race and featured Rep.. Kesha Ram in March and will feature Speaker of the House Shap Smith in July. Senator Zuckerman talked about his experience in the House and the Senate during his political career as well as his farming business and his goals as Lt. Governor.  The interview can be seen here.

Legislative Report 6/11/2016 - The Veto-Override Session

When the Legislature adjourns at the end of the session it sets a date for a return, if needed, to consider any vetoes the Governor might make. The decision to consider overriding a veto is at the Legislature’s discretion. This year Governor Shumlin vetoed two bills, H.518, which added 4 members to the Clean Water Fund Board, and S.230, which provided a process for towns to obtain “substantial deference” for siting energy projects and tasked the Public Service Board to develop sound standards for large wind projects and use emergency rule making to set temporary standards in the interim. The governor had four reasons for vetoing S.230, based in part on legal opinions from the PSB and his staff regarding several parts of the bill:

  • Emergency rule making is only used when there is imminent threat to public health or safety. The original intent of the language was to create an expedited rule making process, but it was never intended as a statement regarding a threat to public health or safety.
  • The criteria specified for the temporary sound standards stated that they should be no higher than the lowest level in any existing Certificate of Public Good. We believed the Lowell standard of 30dba indoors and 45 dba outdoors to be the lowest level. However, a backyard 100 kw turbine in Vergennes has a sound level limit in its CPG that no larger turbine could ever meet, effectively creating a moratorium on all wind projects in Vermont.
  • The CPG for each renewable energy project would need to be filed with the municipal clerk as part of the deed to the property. This would require municipalities as well as thousands of property owners with small solar to incur an unnecessary expense.
  • Finally, $300,000 had originally been in the bill to be used to assist Regional Planning Commissions and towns to implement the planning process to get their "substantial deference" by the PSB for energy projects. This section was inadvertently left out of the final bill during negotiations between the House and Senate on the last day of the session.
Senator Chris Bray, Chair of the Senate Natural Resources Committee, quickly drafted a substitute bill that addressed the Governor’s objections.  This bill, S.260, kept the expedited rule-making process but disconnected it from the “emergency” standard. It also created two classes for wind projects - one below 500kw and one above - and made the “no higher than” requirement based on the lowest level set for each class. Third, it limited the requirement for recording the CPG with the deed to systems greater than 15 kw.  Finally, it restored the missing $300,000 for energy planning purposes. The Senate quickly passed S.260 on a bipartisan vote of 27 to 2. After a very long day and many failed attempts to suspend rules and take action, the bill passed on a voice vote in the House just after 9 PM.
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Have a great summer!