End of 2008 Start of 2009

As I site her thinking about what tasks I should work on next. I have to take a moment to reminisce about all the people I have meet, maps I have created, and culverts/bridges I have inventoried. Wow 2008 seemed to just fly by and I wonder what 2009 has in store for me. Well thanks to everyone for making 2008 a great year and I really look forward to see and working with everyone next year. From my desk at CVRPC in the GIS Department have a happy New Year.

Fluvial Erosion Hazard Planning

Despite the cuts in funding that are pending, or have happened to Regional Planning, CVRPC is working diligently on fluvial erosion hazard (FEH) planning and mapping. Staff is actively working with the Towns of Cabot, Calais, Waitsfield, and Worcester on their FEH planning and assisting with the development of a FEH mapping data layer that augments flood plain boundary data. CVRPC will be working in the spring with the Towns of Northfield, Berlin, Barre, and Warren on their FEH planning and mapping. Staff looks forward to doing this work; it is hands on and provides a useful implementation tool for town officials.

Municipal and Regional Planning Appropriations

Two of the recommendations from the Administration on budget cuts for FY 2009 include municipal and regional planning. The Municipal Planning Grants are being considered for a 50% cut, about $409,000, and the 11 regional planning commissions, who have already received a 5% cut that is in effect, may see an additional 8% cut. These are not yet approved or effective, but if they are approved, they will be effective immediately. Those municipalities who applied for a Municipal Planning Grant this past October will not see award notices until after the budget cuts are finalized. It is also unknown whether all the applications will be funded at less than the requests or if only some will be funded at less and some others not funded at all. These are decisions that the Department of Housing and Community Affairs will have to make once they know the final dollar amount available for funding.

CVRPC has absorbed the initial 5% cut by not hiring an intern for GIS and fluvial erosion hazard work and not replacing equipment that was due to be replaced. We will work hard to eek out another year from our GIS plotter, for example. The additional 8% cut, if it becomes reality, is another matter that the Regional Commission, like the other 10 RPC’s, will have to review and consider ways to absorb. There are things in CVRPC’s budget that can be tweeked, and we are hoping that the impact will not be overwhelming.

Look for updates on our Blog as news comes down the pike. No matter what, enjoy the Holidays!

Road Surface Management System (RSMS)

CVRPC with assistance from Consultant Robert Turner, has completed Phase I of an update to the RSMS for the towns of Berlin, Northfield, and Plainfield. In performing an RSMS, we go out with town staff, and inventory the roads characteristics and condition. In Phase II, we will be working with the Town’s to customize the RSMS to organize, analyze, and prioritize improvement strategies for both paved and gravel roads. Our goal is to develop a multi-year improvement program. The results of the system will allow town officials to compare strategies and select a road improvement that will yield the longest extended life and be most cost effective. Another benefit is that a number of VTrans Town Highway Grant Programs will reduce your local match requirement by 10% if you have a road & culvert inventory, and adopted road/culvert/bridge standards. CVRPC also has the ability to map the RSMS data, which allows the information to be reviewed quickly, and can be very helpful for public presentations. If you would like more information, contact staff.

D-FIRM maps, NFIP and Bylaws

FEMA has approved revising the D-FIRM maps for Gunners Brook and Stevens Branch of the Winooski River. It looks as if a revised D-FIRM will be generated by August 2009 and will affect D-FIRM panels for Barre Town, Barre City, Berlin, East Montpelier, and Montpelier. Once the D-FIRM map is released, there will be a community meeting to discuss the changes. This will be followed by a 90 day appeal period during which property owners and communities can submit information on why the flood elevations as revised are scientifically or technically incorrect. It is anticipated that the end of the appeal period will be December 2009 and will then be followed by a letter of final determination. Once that letter is released, municipalities will have 6 months to adopt flood hazard bylaws, or updates to their existing bylaws, that are in compliance with the NFIP standards. It is important to revise your bylaws early in the 6 month period, if you haven’t done so already, and have the VT Department of Environmental Conservation (Ned Swanberg, e-mail ned.swanberg@state.vt.us) review them for compliance. In order to remain eligible for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), the municipality’s flood hazard bylaws have to be in compliance with the NFIP standards. It is expected that the effective date of the D-FIRM maps will be June 2010 at which point flood insurance rates will be based on the new flood data. For model flood hazard bylaws and additional information on NFIP, go to www.vtwaterquality.org/rivers and click on the link to flood hazard management. Call CVRPC at 229-0389 for additional assistance.