• Heating district: Act 250 process could take months
     | April 05,2013

    MONTPELIER — It could be several months before the District 5 Environmental Commission issues the Act 250 permit necessary for the state to begin construction on its part of the district heat project with the city, according to state environmental officials.

    “Right now, the commission has 40 days to determine whether the project should be treated as a major or minor project,” said Clancy DeSmet, district coordinator for the Barre-based District 5 commission. During this time, he said, other parties, including adjacent landowners, the city, state or Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission could request party status, delaying the permit further.

    The city plans to begin construction of the heat distribution system April 16, but the District 5 commission has not yet scheduled a review of the state’s Act 250 permit application. For construction of the wood-fired plant, the state hoped to begin work at the beginning of June. In addition, the state must also obtain a permit from the city for construction in the floodplain.

    Under the agreement between Montpelier and the state, the city assumes responsibility for permitting and construction of the heat distribution system, while the state assumes the same responsibilities for the biomass plant.

    More than 90 percent of all requested Act 250 permits are issued, and DeSmet said he expected movement on the permit would take place within the next several months.

    According to the Agency of Natural Resources, the average time frame for the permit process is 60 to 80 days. The state filed its request March 7, with follow-up documentation filed March 12. The permit application is now considered complete, but no commission review has been scheduled.

    “It’s really hard to predict how it’s going to go,” said DeSmet, adding that the district commission was beginning to see an uptick in permit applications as the annual construction season begins.

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