The Mountain Times

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A dangerous precedent

Dear Editor,

I'm worried about a dangerous precedent that will be set if the permit condition set forth recently in a letter put forth by three Regional Planning Commissions for the Killington Village Master Plan, is approved as written.

Condition listed as 3C is particularly troubling for the precedent it sets. It says: "Specification of thresholds for when mitigation measures will be required by the applicant for all future phases of this project."

Explaining the permit conditions, the document continues to say "The plan will form the basis for determining how costs for the transportation infrastructure necessary to accommodate growth shall be allocated between land developers, municipalities and the state."

Folks, this has nothing to do with SP Land specifically, rather it places obstacles in front of ALL land developers and projects for regional growth. Notice here it says "land developers" NOT "the applicant."
In other words, if any land development, municipality or state comes forward with a project that may have an affect on the transportation system over the set threshold (this could be almost anything, an expansion to the hospital or a college, town EDT project or low income housing development) that developer, municipality or state will be solely responsible for upgrading the whole transportation system. And not just the local transportation system that might be most affected, but one that spans the entire "Three-County Corridor."

The transportation system includes not only roads but also railway and air travel, whose upgrades could also be required for other developments, if this precedent for permit condition passes.

To make one developer responsible for upgrading a regional transportation system just because they were putting the system over capacity, doesn't make sense as a policy and would effectively be a HUGE anti-growth measure for our region.

Regional Planning Commissions do not have legislative authority to require this now, but by slipping this measure into SP Land's Act 250 permit, local representatives on the planning commission voting on the measure would effectively be giving other Regional Planning Commissions the power to tie any land development to system-wide transportation upgrades in your town.

Act 250 hearings rely heavily on past precedents, and this one would certainly become a dangerous obstacle to any future growth in our entire region once a threshold is met anywhere along the corridor.

There are many exciting developments on the horizon from New York to New Hampshire that have the potential to help the region grow, but burdening any one of these specific projects with the responsibility of updating the entire transportation system, would certainly make our region an undesirable, albeit impractical, place to invest.

Some developments put a burden on local and regional transportation systems, and it is certainly something that they should be required to help mitigate. But this is not the way. And this precedent has the potential to kill growth in our region.

Again, I urge everyone not to look at this as an SP Lands issue, but rather consider the implications such a precedent could have on the growth of our towns. Representatives on the commission, you were not put on your town's planning commission to sign away your own town's future growth and that is what I believe this document is asking you to do.

Jim Haff