Michael Zahner - Hollister Hill Consulting, LLC


Michael Zahner has been directly involved with the administration of Act 250 for the past 28 years. For half of 

his tenure, he served as the Vermont Natural Resources Board's Executive Director before retiring in September 2009.  In that role, Michael was responsible for the overall administration of Act 250 including quasi-judicial and administrative functions, major policy formulation, promulgation of rules, program evaluation, personnel, statistical tracking and analysis.  As the Board's primary liaison with the Vermont Legislature, he played a major role in the adoption of important legislation including the Permit Reform Act of 2004 (Act 115) and the Growth Center Legislation of 2006 (Act 183).  He was primarily responsible for a comprehensive revision to Criterion 9(B), the first major reform of any Act 250 criterion in 36 years which formally authorized the use of "offsite mitigation" for the loss of primary agricultural soils.  Michael also served as co-chair of Vermont's Planning and Coordination Group established by the Legislature to assist in the implementation of Act 183, Vermont's Growth Center Legislation.

On the local level, Michael has served as zoning administrator in Marshfield and Chair of the Marshfield Planning Commission, as well as, Chair of the Twinfield Union School Board. He is currently a board member of the Plainfield Health Center and Chair of the Marshfield Conservation Commission.  He has been actively involved in preparing a management plan for the newly established 600 acre Stranahan Town Forest conserved through the Vermont Land Trust.  Michael is a long-time resident of Marshfield, Vermont.


  • Author of numerous legislative amendments to Act 250 over the past two decades. Primary draftsperson for revisions to the Act 250 rules and preparation of Board policies necessary for full implementation and interpretation of those rules in light of evolving caselaw. Expert in the determination of Act 250 jurisdiction, party status considerations and the protection of primary agricultural soils. 
  • Expertise in statutory and regulatory history of Act 250. Comprehensive knowledge of Act 250 precedent including important Environmental Board, Environmental Court and Supreme Court decisions.  Primary presenter in numerous Continuing Legal Education (CLE) training sessions for the Board.
  • Highly capable speaker to large and small groups.  Skilled in the preparation of concise written summaries detailing the intricacies of complex legal issues relating to land use, environmental protection and party status in land use proceedings.
  • National Pole Vault Champion, USA Masters Track and Field Association (2004).  

  • St. Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri. Major: Economics/Business Administration, School of Commerce and Finance. B.S., 1969.

  • University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont. Completed 30 hours of graduate level course work in resource economics and land use planning, School of Agricultural and Resource Economics, 1981.  

  • The Snelling Center for Government - The Vermont Leadership Institute considered by many to be Vermont's premiere leadership training program. Member of the first graduating class, 1996.

  • Extensive legal training in land use law over the past twenty eight years working closely with many of Vermont's finest land use attorneys.