WILMINGTON -- Before her Selectboard term expired, Meg Streeter thought it would benefit the town to draft a letter addressing concerns over proposed legislation that would impose further permitting for development along shorelands.
"Our concern is that an overly complicated and lengthy permit process will affect use and improvements to both our municipal property and to individual property owners' use and enjoyment of their own land," the letter stated. "Of particular concern is the proposed regulation of development on sloped land and also the very complicated rules relating to pathways, trees and other natural features."
The Shoreland Protection Bill, H.526, is meant to protect water quality and govern development along shorelands. While still in the process of being worked out between the Vermont House of Representatives and the Senate, it has worried many who own lakeside property.
The Wilmington Selectboard approved Streeter's letter on April 2 and it was sent to Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner David K. Mears. The letter mentioned the two lakes in town, Lake Whitingham and Lake Raponda.
"Although Lake Whitingham, owned by TransCanada, has an undeveloped shoreline, Lake Raponda has had shoreline development since the 1890s," it stated. "The town owns a 20-acre parcel that was purchased in the 1930s to ensure public access for swimming and other recreation."
The letter also mentions that a substantial portion of the town's residential tax base is dependent on Lake Raponda property.
The Selectboard had previously asked state Sen. Robert Hartwell, D-Bennington, to be notified when testimony was going to be heard in Montpelier. Town Manager Scott Murphy told the Selectboard that he would ask Hartwell about dates for testimony but had not heard anything as of Monday.
The bill had passed through the House of Representatives last year but did not pass through the Senate. It eventually passed through the Senate on Feb. 7 with new amendments. When it went back to the House, it was refused with the amendments.
The House has wanted the bill to make rules that could be revised more simply if necessary, rather than laws, while the Senate wanted to put laws in place.
"Since the House and Senate versions differed significantly, the two versions were referred to a Committee of Conference to work out the differences," said state Rep. David Deen, D-Westminster. "The House proposed five different concerns to the Senate. We are now waiting for a Senate proposal to resolve our concerns."
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.