On April 25, 2014, the House and Senate conference committee on H.526 unanimously agreed on compromise wording and passed the bill out of committee.  The revised bill passed the Senate on a voice vote on April 30 and passed the House on a 93-42 vote on May 5.

The final version of H.526 is similar to the bill passed by the Senate with the following notable changes.

1. The Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) must issue a permit for a public recreational area project if the activity provides water access for the general public and promotes the public trust uses of the water; the impervious surface or cleared area is necessary to achieve the recreational purpose of the project; the project must be constructed within the protected shoreland area to achieve its recreational function; and it conforms with best management practices approved by ANR that protect lake water quality and habitat while achieving the public recreational purposes.

2. The revised bill makes clear that the State of Vermont must meet the same permit standards as the general public.

3. Shoreland stabilization measures designed to repair or prevent erosion or flood risks, if approved by ANR, may be located within 100 feet of the mean water level.

4. The wording regarding municipal delegation changed from ANR “may” delegate permitting authority to municipalities to ANR “shall” delegate permitting authority to municipalities, in specified circumstances.  The municipality’s bylaw or ordinance must be functionally equivalent to the requirements of H.526 and ANR must determine that the municipality provides adequate resources for administering and enforcing the bylaw/ordinance.

5. ANR is authorized to adopt rules for implementing, administering and enforcing the lake shoreland protection requirements including best management practices for the construction of impervious surfaces or the creation of cleared area in a protected shoreland area.

6. From January 1, 2016 to January 1, 2018, ANR, in consultation with the Associated General Contractors of Vermont, must offer a voluntary shoreland erosion control certification program.  The program must include training related to development activities in a shoreland area including best management practices for erosion control, vegetation clearing, and the construction of impervious surfaces.  By January 1, 2018, ANR must report back to the Legislature regarding the certification program, including an evaluation of its success, whether the program should continue, whether the program should be mandatory, and whether to allow certified people to certify compliance with the lake shoreland protection standards in lieu of obtaining a lake shoreland protection permit.

7. The requirements for ANR’s report to the Legislature regarding the Lake Shoreland Protection Program, due by January 15, 2016, have been expanded to include (a) the number of lots, if any, denied a registration or permit and the rationale for the denial; (b) an evaluation of Program performance, including the time frame for permit issuance and landowner compliance; (c) a list of the towns delegated permitting authority and any towns denied delegation, including the rationale for denial; (d) an evaluation of whether the Program is achieving the purposes set forth in H.526; and (e) any recommendations to improve the Program, including how and whether to allow off-site mitigation to offset the adverse impacts of impervious surfaces or cleared areas.

Click here for the full text of H.526 as it passed the House and Senate.

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