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Colchester Takes Stance On Shoreland Protection Bill

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Town of Colchester
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The start of Vermont's next legislative session is still months away, but the select board in Colchester is acting now to state its position on a bill regulating shoreline development.

H.526, known as the Shoreland Protection Bill, passed the House of Representatives last March. On April 2 the Senate sent the bill to its Committee on Natural Resources and Energy. The bill is expected to be taken up again in January when the Legislature reconvenes.

In the meantime, the Colchester Select Board is taking steps aimed to ensure the bill does not undo regulations already put in place by the town. Town Manager Dawn Francis wrote in Colchester's weekly newsletter:

The Vermont State Legislature is considering H.526 a Shoreland Protection Bill, aimed at improved management of water quality on Lake Champlain. While the Town recognizes the need for shore line regulations and improved water quality, there are concerns regarding the proposed bill. As a part of the public review process, the Select board has approved a preliminary position statement regarding the proposed bill.

The statement approved by the select board was drafted by Sarah Hadd, the town's Planning & Zoning Director. It notes:

Since Colchester has been at the forefront of shoreline and water quality issues, the Colchester Select Board is primarily concerned that the Shoreland regulations considered by the Vermont Legislature would preempt municipal land use regulations or require municipalities to forego existing regulations and adopt a standard statewide regulation.

The statement goes on to list a half-dozen specific concerns the Town has with the proposed legislation. Among them are the potential for usurping of local regulations that are already in place, issues with a "one size fits all" bill, and implementation delays caused by bureaucratic inefficiencies.

Town Manager Francis said the select board will be following the issue through the legislative process, and may revise its statement as more information becomes available.