Standing on the front porch of the recently rehabilitated St. Albans House, Gov. Peter Shumlin today signed into law three bills to address the critical issues of jobs and community revitalization, housing affordability, environmental protection and transportation investment.
"Together these bills, along with an additional $500,000 in tax credits, will ensure that more historic buildings like the St. Albans House are rehabilitated, that more businesses and jobs are located in our downtowns, and that new homes are built within walking distance to stores, restaurants, schools and public transit," Gov. Shumlin told the group of business owners, homebuilders, and environmental groups attending the signing event.
"By directing more development to community centers, we also support our agricultural renaissance and assure our productive farms and forests remain a vital part of the Vermont landscape," he added.
The Governor was joined by St. Albans Mayor Liz Gamache, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger, Noelle MacKay, Commissioner of Housing and Community Development, Deputy Transportation Secretary Sue Minter, Natural Resources Board Chairman Ron Shems, key lawmakers, members of the business community, and local officials.
St. Albans Mayor Liz Gamache noted that, "our initial $3m investment to make our downtown more pedestrian friendly was a magnet for economic development and jobs. This renaissance has taken years of hard work to realize, but with more residents and businesses moving downtown, St. Albans is experiencing a new energy and vibrancy not seen in years."
"The Vermont Mayors Coalition applauds the Governor's and Legislature's actions to increase tax credits and reform the Act 250 process for downtown investments," said Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger. "The Vermont Mayors Coalition prioritized and advocated for these changes during the session because they will create jobs and housing opportunities in our treasured downtowns."
"Workers and businesses increasingly view quality-of-life and quality-of-place as major factors in deciding where to locate," said Commissioner MacKay. "By making it easier and less expensive to develop in our community centers and discouraging more strip development outside these areas, these bills help build strong communities and places where more Vermonters and businesses want to call home."
"Fostering Vermont's historic settlement pattern of compact community centers separated by working lands and rural countryside strengthens Vermont's economy, makes efficient use of state and municipal resources, preserves Vermont's brand and protects our environment," said Shems.
Speaking to H.740, which establishes Transportation Improvement Districts, Minter said, "Our transportation investments can fuel economic development and enhance community vitality. We have worked closely with developers and the legislature to both reduce and share equitably the transportation costs to developers."
The package of legislation is the result of an inclusive, stakeholder effort to direct more jobs, business and housing to community centers -- and guide better decision making in how our cities and towns grow and develop. In addition to the Shumlin Administration and the Legislature, the Vermont Mayors Coalition, Vermont League of Cities and Towns, Vermont Natural Resources Council, Vermont Realtors Association, Homebuilders and Remodelers Association, Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce, and many other groups worked on the legislation.
The bills signed today were:
* H. 809, improving the Growth Center and New Town Center designation process by helping more communities plan for growth and development they want;
* H. 823, providing development incentives within state designated growth centers to help address the state's housing shortage while promoting walkable communities. It bars large scale commercial development outside a designated center from contributing to the extension of existing strip development, while encouraging new growth to be located in community centers or as infill in those existing strip development areas; and
* H. 740, changing how developers pay for improvements to state roads, intersections and other transportation infrastructure, by requiring developers to only pay for the traffic their development creates -- not the entire cost of the improvement