Archive for the ‘Agriculture – Working Lands’ Category

For many of us, a house on a couple dozen acres in the woods is a dream property. As a result, there is significant residential demand for Vermont’s forestlands. As the value of forest products declines, owners of commercial forestlands are increasingly willing to enter the real estate market. But such land use choices wreak havoc on the ecological values of forests and ultimately undermine the forest products industry. Aware of these concerns, the drafters of Act 250 sought to preserve the environmental and economic benefits of primary forestry soils by limiting development on these finite resources. This post discusses how Act 250 protects primary forestry soils and reviews New England Land Associates,  a case concerning the subdivision of commercial forestlands. (more…)

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A principal goal of Act 250 is the preservation of finite resources including “primary soils for agriculture” and “productive soils for forestry.”  Under 10 V.S.A. § 6086(a)(9)(B) and 9(C), development that threatens these soils may not qualify for an Act 250 Permit.  Yet, what is the standard for determining whether development on protected soils can move forward?  This blog entry provides an overview of the soils criteria of Act 250 and summarizes the seminal case on the application of Criteria 9(B), In re Spear Street Associates, 145 Vt. 496 (1985)(Spear Street”). (more…)

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Steven Rattee wants to construct a house and a driveway on his property. 103 acres of Mr. Rattee’s 185 acres is subject to an easement called an agricultural preservation restriction (APR).  The purpose of the easement is “preserving the limited land suitable for agricultural production.”  Mr. Rattee’s property has productive agricultural soil.  The easement was granted to the state of New Hampshire by the previous landowner and is managed by the Agricultural Land Preservation Committee (ALPC).  Now, in addition to seeking a building permit, Mr. Rattee is required to get permission from ALPC before constructing certain types of structures.  However, ALPC did not adopt rules to establish how to apply for permission to construct on land with an APR.  Also, the ALPC has not previously enforced restrictions of APRs. (more…)

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