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Vermont State Cultural Considerations (11-VT-a)

In Vermont, cultural considerations are triggered for all hydroelectric projects that are federal and/or state undertakings. An undertaking “means any project, activity, or program, including action on approval, authorization, license, and permit applications that can result in a change in the character or use of an historic property or historic resource.” Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 §2.41. An undertaking includes a Certificate of Public Good issued by the Vermont Public Service Board and/or any state or federal funding received. Vermont Historic Preservation Act, 22 V.S.A. § 701 et seq.; National Historic Preservation Act, 16 U.S.C § 106; Certificate of Public Good, 30 V.S.A. § 248.


Cultural considerations are analyzed in a cooperative review process by the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation (DHP), the Vermont Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (Advisory Council), the Vermont State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO), the federal and/or state authorizing agency, and the developer. 22 V.S.A. §§ 722-723, 742(a)(8). The DHP leads the cooperative review and is authorized by 22 V.S.A. § 723(10) to adopt rules and carry out the purposes of the Vermont Historic Preservation Act.

The DHP and SHPO will review and comment on a hydroelectric project’s effect on cultural resources, pursuant to Vermont Historic Preservation Act, 22 V.S.A. § 701 et seq., National Historic Preservation Act, 16 U.S.C § 106, Certificate of Public Good, 30 V.S.A. § 248, and Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001. Project review consists of identifying the project’s potential impacts to historic buildings and structures, historic districts, historic landscapes and settings, and to known or potential archeological resources. Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 § 4; Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development: How to Get a Letter from SHPO.


State Cultural Considerations Process

11-VT-a.1 — Contact the Division of Historic Preservation

The developer should contact the Vermont Division of Historic Preservation (DHP) as early as possible in the project planning process. The DHP will assist the developer in identifying historic resources in the project area and will provide guidance on how to evaluate and avoid potential impacts to those resources. Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 § 4.3; Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development: How to Get a Letter from SHPO.

11-VT-a.2 — Project Review Cover Form

The developer must submit a complete Vermont Historic Preservation Project Review Cover Form (Project Review Cover Form) electronically to the DHP. The Project Review Cover Form must, at minimum, include:

  • Name, address, and contact information of the developer;
  • The project name and location, including GIS coordinates;
  • A detailed description of the project, including relevant portions of project applications to other state and/or federal agencies and environmental statements;
  • A location map clearly indicating the street and road names surrounding the project area as well as the location of all portions of the project;
  • A site plan that includes the project boundaries and areas of proposed excavation and construction, as applicable; and
  • Project plans, including architectural and/or engineering plans, drawings, etc.

Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 § 4.7; Vermont Historic Preservation Project Review Cover Form.

11-VT-a.3 to 11-VT-a.5 — Evaluate Project Review Form for Completeness

The Vermont State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) will evaluate the Project Review Form for completeness within forty-five (45) days of the submission. Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 § 4.5.5.

The SHPO may request additional information from the developer if it is needed to make a determination. The SHPO must request the additional information within fifteen (15) days of the receipt of the Project Review Form. If additional information is requested, the SHPO must complete its evaluation within thirty (30) days of receiving the additional information from the applicant (developer). However, “these limits may be extended for archeological evaluations as reasonably required by winter conditions.” Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 § 4.5.5.

11-VT-a.6 — Determine Area of Potential Effects

The SHPO must identify the area potential effects of the project, if any. The ‘’area of potential effects’’ means the “geographic area or areas within which an undertaking may directly or indirectly cause changes in the character or use of historic properties, should such properties exist. The area of potential effects includes the project area, and may include additional areas outside of the project area.” Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 § 4.12.

The SHPO must determine the identification of the area of potential effects after considering the scale and nature of an undertaking. The area of potential effects may vary with different kinds of effects caused by the same undertaking. Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 § 4.12.

11-VT-a.7 to 11-VT-a.9 — Historically Significant Determination

The SHPO must make a historical significance determination, after determining the area of potential effects. The SHPO will evaluate the “historic significance of a resource and effect of a project on a historic site, if any, within forty-five (45) days of receiving sufficient information from the applicant (developer).” Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 § 4.5.5.

The SHPO must determine if any “building, structure, object, district, area or archeological site in the area of potential effects is listed in the State or National Register.” Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 § 4.10. The SHPO will apply the State Register criteria in accordance with Vermont Historic Preservation Act, 22 V.S.A. § 723(a)(2) for an area of potential effects that contains a “building, structure, object, district or landscape that is fifty (50) years old or older, (but is not listed in the State or National Register), to determine whether the resource is historically significant.” Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 § 4.11.1. The State Register criteria, also, applies to an area of potential effects that contains an archeological site not currently listed in the State or National Register. Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 § 4.12.

The developer may be required to conduct an archeological field investigation if the SHPO decides that an investigation is needed to make a historically significant determination. Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 § 4.12. The developer must retain a qualified archeological professional to conduct the field investigation, if the investigation is required. The qualified archeological professional must conduct the field investigation in accordance with Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 § 4.12.1.1. Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 § 4.12.

11-VT-a.10 to 11-VT-a.11 — Is there a Referral to the Advisory Council to Make a Historically Significant Determination?

The Vermont Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (Advisory Council) may need to make the determination that a resource is or is not historically significant. There are two instances, in which the Advisory Council will make a historically significant determination. First, the applicant (developer) may disagree with the SHPO evaluation that a resource is historically significant. If the developer disagrees with the SHPO’s assessment, the applicant (developer) must write to the Chairperson of the Advisory Council to request an evaluation of the resource and subsequent submission of testimony to the applicable permitting authority. Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 § 4.14.1.

Second, the SHPO or the chairperson of the Advisory Council may ask the Advisory Council to evaluate the resource and determine if it is historically significant. The DHP or the chairperson of the Advisory Council may also ask the Advisory Council to list the resource in the State register pursuant to Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 § 9.

The SHPO will then notify the applicant (developer) in writing of the determination. Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 §§ 4.8-4.9. If there is not a referral to the Advisory Council proceed to 11-VT-a.17.

11-VT-a.12 to 11-VT-a.14 — Publish Notice of Advisory Council Meeting

The DHP must “inform the applicant (developer) of the date, time, and place of the Advisory Council’s meeting for determining if the undertaking’s (project) area of potential effect contains a historically significant resource.” Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 § 4.14.3.

The applicant (developer) “must submit to the Advisory Council, at the DHP’s office, nine (9) copies of any information that the applicant (developer) wishes the Advisory Council to consider at least fifteen (15) days before the Advisory Council meeting.” Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 § 4.14.3. The SHPO in consultation with the chairperson of the Advisory Council may waive the fifteen (15) day requirement in exceptional circumstances. Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 § 4.14.3.

The developer or the developer’s qualified professional, the SHPO, and the DHP may present pertinent information at the Advisory Council Meeting about any buildings, structures, districts, objects, areas, or archeological sites in the area of potential effects. Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 §§ 4.14.4 -4.14.5.

11-VT-a.15 to 11-VT-a.16 — Historically Significant Determination

The Advisory Council applies the State Register criteria pursuant to Vermont Historic Preservation Act, 22 V.S.A. § 723(a)(2) to determine whether the area of potential effects contains an historic resource that is historically significant. Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 § 4.14.6.

The Advisory Council deliberates and, unless it needs more information, will decide whether or not the area of potential effects contains a historically significant resource. Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 § 4.14.7. If the Advisory Council needs more information for determining if the area of potential effects contains a historically significant resource, it will recess the agenda item to a future meeting. The Advisory Council will identify what further information is needed and who will be responsible for providing it. Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 § 4.14.8.

The DHP sends written notice to the applicant (developer) and where appropriate the permitting agency of the Advisory Council’s decision or its need for more information fifteen (15) days after the Advisory Council has adjourned its meeting. Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 § 4.14.9.

11-VT-a.17 — Does the Area of Potential Effect Contain a Historically Significant Resource?

If the Advisory Council or the SHPO determines that the area of potential effects contains no historically significant resource, the SHPO will inform the applicant (developer) and, where appropriate, the permitting agency. Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 § 4.14.11. Proceed to 11-VT-a.19.

If the Advisory Council or the SHPO finds that the area of potential effects contains a historically significant resource, the SHPO must determine the effect, if any, of the proposed undertaking, as set forth at Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 §§ 4.15-4.20. Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 § 4.14.10.

11-VT-a.18 — Evaluate Effect on Historic Site

The SHPO alone, or in consultation with the applicant’s (developer) qualified professional, will evaluate the potential impacts of the undertaking on a listed historic site. Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 § 4.10.

The SHPO evaluates and prepare testimony on whether the proposed undertaking will:

  • Whether the effect, if any, will be adverse. An ’’adverse effect’’ is defined as a change in a historic property’s or historic resource’s integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association resulting from: physical destruction, damage or alteration…” Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 § 4.1.1;
  • Whether the adverse effect, if any, will be undue. An ‘’undue adverse effect’’ means an adverse effect that is not appropriately mitigated or reasonably avoided. Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 § 4.1.21; and
  • Whether measures may be taken to effectively mitigate the undue adverse effect to the extent that it is no longer undue.

Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 § 4.15.

11-VT-a.19 — Final Review Letter Determination

The SHPO will notify the developer, in a Final Review Letter, of the one of the following determinations:

Determination of No Historically Significant Resource

If the Advisory Council or the SHPO determines that the area of potential effects contains no historically significant resource, the SHPO will inform the applicant (developer) and, where appropriate, the permitting agency. Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 § 4.14.11.

Determination of No Adverse Effect on Historic Buildings, Structures, Districts and Landscapes

Where the SHPO determines an undertaking has no adverse effect on an historic site, the SHPO will notify the applicant in writing. The SHPO will make a determination of no adverse effect where the historic site is a building, structure, or district, and proposed plans meet the Secretary of Interior Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, 36 CFR Part 68 to result in no adverse effect. Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 § 4.16.

Determination of No Adverse Effect on Archeological Sites

A developer can obtain “determination of no adverse effect on a historically significant archeological site if conditions are stipulated that will result in no adverse effect.’’ Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 § 4.17.

Determination of No Adverse Effect with Conditions

The SHPO may find that the undertaking as proposed will be adverse, and if applicable, does not meet the Secretary of Interior Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, 36 CFR Part 68. In that case the SHPO may recommend to the permitting agency that the applicant (developer) make changes or take steps to identify alternatives to the proposed project. The SHPO may recommend the applicant (developer) hire a qualified professional to identify alternatives. The SHPO may negotiate with the applicant (developer) to find a way to modify the undertaking to avoid an adverse effect, and if applicable, meet the Secretary of Interior Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, 36 CFR Part 68. Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 § 4.18.

Determination of Adverse Effect

If the SHPO determines that the undertaking will result in an adverse effect as defined, the DHP will inform the applicant (developer) in writing within forty-five (45) days of receiving sufficient information from the applicant (developer).” Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 § 4.5.5.

The SHPO must request the additional information within fifteen (15) days of the receipt of sufficient information. If additional information is requested, the DHP must complete its evaluation within thirty (30) days of receiving the additional information from the applicant (developer). However, “these limits may be extended for archeological evaluations as reasonably required by winter conditions.” Vermont Historic Preservation Act Rules, CVR 11-050-001 § 4.5.5.




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Edit Vermont Division for Historic Preservation
State Preservation Officer
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Survey Archeologist
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Edit Vermont Division for Historic Preservation
Historic Preservation Review Coordinator
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