Vermont State Land Right-of-Way (3-VT-b)
Although utility lines perform an important function, the ANR recognizes that the presence of utility lines can impact the natural environment, pre-empt other uses of involved land corridors, and may be aesthetically displeasing. After careful review, the FPR or DFW can authorize the installation of utility lines over FPR, DEC, or DFW lands by issuing a Utility Right-of-Way. The FPR is responsible for the administration and management of all FPR and DEC lands. The DFW is responsible for the administration and management of all DFW lands. Agency of Natural Resources Policy: Use of State Lands; FRP Policy 16: Utility Easements.
ANR has jurisdiction over all lands owned by the State of Vermont and managed or controlled by the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation (FPR), the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW), and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). These lands include all state parks, state forests, wildlife management areas, and other miscellaneous ANR holdings, which the ANR holds in public trust for the enjoyment of Vermont’s residents and visitors and for the conservation of important natural resources. Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Policy: Use of State Lands; Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Policy: Wind Energy and Other Renewable Energy Development on ANR Lands. ANR may authorize special uses of ANR lands by issuing a lease, license, or special use permit. Leases Licenses and Special Use Permits Webpage ANR carefully evaluates new or expanded uses of ANR lands in order to assess and minimize the impact of activities on the land, associated natural, recreational and/or cultural resources; to evaluate the public benefit(s) of such uses; and to assure that uses of state lands are compatible with the long-range management objectives for that particular parcel of land. Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Policy: Use of State Lands. Vermont ANR: Information for Applicants for Special Use Permits or Licenses.
State Land Right-of-Way Process
3-VT-b.1 to 3-VT-b.2 – Will the Proposed Utility Lines Cross Over State Lands Managed by the ANR?
The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) requires developers to secure a Utility Right-of-Way (ROW) for any utility line or lines crossing over lands owned by the State and managed or controlled by the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation (FPR), the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), or the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW). Agency of Natural Resources Policy: Use of State Lands.
3-VT-b.3 – Application for Utility Right-of-Way
The developer should submit the Utility Right-of-Way Application (Application) early enough to ensure that the application is received no later than 30 days before the proposed use is to begin.
The FPR/DFW processes applications received less than 30 days prior to the time the proposed use is to begin on a first-come, first-served basis and will require the developer to pay an additional $50.00 fee if expedited licensing is necessary. Vermont ANR: Information for Applicants for Special Use Permits or Licenses.
To request a Utility Right-of-Way over FPR or DEC lands, the developer must submit a Utility Right-of-Way Application to the appropriate District Office. Vermont ANR: Information for Applicants for Special Use Permits or Licenses. If a utility line or lines will cross FPR-managed lands within more than one District, the developer should send the Application to the District Office where the greatest amount of District land will be involved. The District Office receiving the Application coordinates with any additional Districts and/or departments having oversight over other lands involved in the requested right-of-way. Vermont ANR: Information for Applicants for Special Use Permits or Licenses. Contact information for the FPR’s Forestry District Offices is available through the Department of Fish and Wildlife Contacts Webpage.
To request a Utility Right-of-Way over DFW lands, the developer must submit a Utility Right-of-Way Application to the DFW Lands Administrator. Contact information for the DFW is available through the Department of Fish and Wildlife Contacts Webpage.
3-VT-b.4 to 3-VT-b.5 - Review Application for Completeness
The FPR/DFW District Office reviews Utility Right-of-Way Applications for completeness. If the Application is incomplete, the District Office or DFW Lands Administrator will return the Application to the developer, unprocessed. Vermont ANR: Information for Applicants for Special Use Permits or Licenses.
3-VT-b.6 - Review Project for Compliance with Required Land Use Criteria
Once the FPR/DFW deems the Utility Right-of-Way Application complete, the agency reviews the project to determine whether the proposed use of state lands:
- Complies with the missions, goals, and objectives of the agency and department, as expressed in their strategic plans or state law;
- Is compatible with the overall management objective for the particular parcels in question as outlined in the long-range management plan;
- Does not unreasonably exclude, eliminate, degrade, or conflict with other established and accepted public uses of an area;
- Will not destroy, degrade or adversely impact any natural, geological, historical, cultural, fisheries and wildlife, recreational, or visual resources, and will protect or avoid critical natural resources or other resource values; and
- Is not specifically prohibited by law, rule, regulation, or policy.
Easements and utility lines crossing ANR lands must be located in such a manner as to have the least impact on state lands and not interfere with the purpose for which the land was acquired and/or developed. Utility lines should be placed underground when feasible. FRP Policy 16: Utility Easements.
In addition, the FPR/DFW will not issue a Utility Right-of-Way for a project that is solely for the convenience of the developer, for which no direct benefit accrues to the ANR, and/or which does not serve the greater public good. Agency of Natural Resources Policy: Use of State Lands; FRP Policy 16: Utility Easements.
3-VT-b.7 - Consult with the Director of Lands Administration
Following a careful review of the proposed Utility Right-of-Way , the District or Regional Manager consults with the Director of Lands Administration. Where FPR or DEC lands are involved, the FPR district staff assumes the lead role in reviewing applications for a Utility Right-of-Way and developing the necessary documents, with the Lands Administration Division serving a coordinating role and providing a secondary review once the district process is complete.
Where DFW lands are involved, the DFW Lands Administrator works in coordination with district staff during the initial review process. Therefore, a secondary review may not be required. The Director of Lands Administration makes the final determination on whether to issue a Utility Right-of-Way involving ANR lands. FRP Policy 16: Utility Easements.
3-VT-b.8 to 3-VT-b.9 - Will the Right-of-Way Involve Land and Water Conservation Fund Lands?
Through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Park Service (NPS) provides funding to federal agencies, states and territories for the creation of parks and opens spaces, the protection of wilderness and forests, and the provision of outdoor recreation opportunities. Vermont FPR: Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Any proposed utility right-of-way crossing land acquired with LWCF money must run underground and must receive prior review by and approval from the National Park Service. FRP Policy 16: Utility Easements.
In Vermont, the LWCF is administered by the FPR. Prior to issuing a Utility Right-of-Way, the Director of Lands Administration consults with the National Park Service on the proposed easement, through the Director of the FPR. FRP Policy 16: Utility Easements.
3-VT-b.10 to 3-VT-b.11 –Review Application for Approval
The Director of Lands Administration may grant a Utility Right-of-Way if the utility line or lines will:
- Serve ANR facilities;
- Serve adjoining landowners, if no other alternatives exist;
- Have anchors or guys located in the highway right-of-way, if no other alternatives exist.
The Agency may deny the license/lease or issue specific conditions for the license/lease if the ANR determines that:
- The project may destroy, degrade or adversely impact natural resources or associated values;
- The project is not in keeping with existing public uses and original intent of the acquisition, including related deed restrictions, restrictions associated with funding sources, and easements;
- The project is solely for private gain;
- The project poses an unreasonable risk to the safety of the users and the general public.
3-VT-b.12 to 3-VT-b.13 – File Appeal
If the Director denies the developer’s application for a utility right-of-way, the developer may appeal the decision to the FPR/DFW Commissioner. The FPR/DFW Commissioner makes the final decision on the appeal. FRP Policy 16: Utility Easements.
3-VT-b.14 - Utility Right-of-Way
If the FPR/DFW approves the Utility Right-of-Way, the agency issues formal written authorization of the project in the form of a Utility Right-of-Way. Agency of Natural Resources Policy: Use of State Lands. The utility right-of-Way license must:
- Clearly describe the approved use and all imposed conditions for the permitted activity;
- Satisfy criteria and guidelines outlined in the ANR’s policy for the Uses of State Lands, and
- Not cause undue administrative or operational burden upon the agency, including considerations pertaining to staffing, budget constraints, and maintenance.
The Agency generally issues a utility right-of-way license for a term of ten-years. Agency of Natural Resources Policy: Use of State Lands. The license contains the terms and conditions that the FPR/DFW deems necessary for the protection of ANR-managed lands and resources and will include a provision allowing the State to terminate the license without cause.
3-VT-b.15 to 3-VT-b.16 - Pay Licensing Fees
The FPR/DFW bills the developer for the appropriate licensing fees at the time the agency issues the right-of-way license. Licensing fees for a utility right-of-way include a minimum $50.00 base administration fee, a $50.00 expedited licensing fee (if applicable), plus a $1.00 - $3.00 fee per linear foot of utility ROW per 10 year term, depending on the type of utility right-of-way. ANR Licnese and Special Use Permit Fees for Uses of State Lands.
The licensing fees must be received by the Agency within thirty (30) days after billing or prior to the starting date of use. ANR Licnese and Special Use Permit Fees for Uses of State Lands.
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- Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Policy: Use of State Lands
- Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Policy: Wind Energy and Other Renewable Energy Development on ANR Lands
- Vermont Agency of Natural Resources State Lands Administration Leases Licenses and Special Use Permits Webpage
- Vermont ANR: Information for Applicants for Special Use Permits or Licenses
- FRP Policy 16: Utility Easements
- Vermont FPR: Land and Water Conservation Fund
- Vermont – ANR Vermont Agency of Natural Resources License and Special Use Permit Fees for Uses of State Lands
- Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Utility Right-of-Way Application
- Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife Contacts Webpage
- Department of Fish and Wildlife Contacts Webpage