Relisient Communities ScoreCard

How Towns can Figure Out How They Stack Up –  News courtesty of VTDigger

Montpelier, Vt – A new checklist is now available to help towns rate whether or not they are economically, environmentally, and socially resilient.

The Vermont Natural Resources Council today released The Resilient Communities Scorecard, which builds on the Smart Growth Scorecard published by the Vermont Forum on Sprawl in 2001. The update makes it the first scorecard developed in Vermont that looks at resilience.

“Knowing how your community stacks up is the first step in developing goals, actions, and investment strategies to build or reinforce community resilience in a changing world,” said Kate McCarthy, VNRC’s Sustainable Communities Director.

McCarthy noted that Vermont is facing not only a changing climate, but also increasing energy costs, housing affordability challenges, and the fragmentation of the landscape. This Scorecard helps communities understand how to build resilience across all of these areas in order to help sustain their quality of place and save towns money over the long-term.

Deb Markowitz, the Agency of Natural Resources Secretary, applauded VNRC’s efforts to help communities assess their resilience.

“This scorecard is a useful tool to help Vermont communities think creatively about how to make investments today that will help us survive, and even thrive, in the face of the uncertainty caused by climate change,” she said. “It prompts us to rethink how we build, or rebuild, our transportation infrastructure, how we get and deliver our energy, where and how we grow our communities and preserve or restore ecosystems, and how we create greater economic opportunities for ourselves and our neighbors.”

The term “community resilience” became very common in Vermont in 2011 as a result of the spring floods and tropical storm Irene. But it’s become clear that community resilience applies to far more than the ability to recover from floods.

The 48-page scorecard can be used by planning commissions, select boards, conservation commissions and other local and regional groups. On a variety of topics, it offers questions and multiple-choice answers. After scoring the answers in each category, towns get one of three ratings: “resilient community,” “in transition,” or “needs your attention.” These ratings then connect to resources that communities can use to improve their resilience.

Jeff Forward, Richmond’s town energy coordinator and chair of the Richmond Climate Action Committee, noted that his town has made progress on clean energy and has an active energy committee that’s helping the town and individuals to save money through efficiency and promoting renewable opportunities. He said, however, that recently, local voters failed to pass an important zoning change that would’ve promoted more compact settlement in the village.

“Where development occurs is not just a zoning issue, it is also a big energy issue and the scorecard could be a really useful tool for communities like mine to help us make the case for strategies and approaches that will set the town up for long-term resiliency.”

Montpelier Mayor John Hollar is a strong supporter of increasing bikeability of the capital city and has embarked on an effort to make the city more bike friendly.

“There are a lot of elements to a resilient community,” he said. “One of my visions for Montpelier is a more energy efficient, clean and healthy transportation system – bikes will likely be a big part of that and this scorecard can help cities and towns move that direction.”

The Scorecard can be found online in the “tools” section of VNRC’s Community Planning Toolbox at http://vnrc.org/resources/community-planning-toolbox/

A limited number of hard copies are also available at VNRC’s offices at 9 Bailey Ave, Montpelier.

Spring Planning and Zoning Forum planned for May 22nd in Fairlee, VT

Lake Morey Resort, Fairlee, VTVermont League of Cities and Towns Spring Planning and Zoning Forum is planned for May 22nd at the Lake Morey Resort in Fairlee, VT.  This event offers participants a chance to discuss pressing issues in municipal planning and zoning with officials from across the state. The workshop will provide a dynamic mix of legal information, practical solutions, policy discussions, as well as many opportunities to ask questions and share experiences.

This workshop is designed for all local officials involved in the local planning and development review process. Zoning administrators, planning commissioners, DRB/ZBA members, town administrators and managers, municipal planners, municipal attorneys, selectboard members, and regional planning commission staff are all encouraged to attend.

Register by May 15 at the Spring Planning and Zoning Forum web site.  Cost:$60 VLCT PACIF Members; $90 VLCT Members; $150 Non-Members

Vermont’s Consolidated Plan Influences funding

Comment’s on Vermont’s housing and community development priorities due May 2, 2013

Curious about Vermont’s housing and community development priorities for 2013 or how they are developed? The 2013 Action Plan of Vermont’s Consolidated Plan outlines the state’s plans for spending the $10 million received each year through four HUD programs.

The plan is available for public comment through May 2, 2013. It’s overall goals are to provide decent housing, assure a suitable living environment, and expand economic opportunities for Vermont’s citizens.

Read the draft 2013 Action Plan, learn how it was developed, or submit comments on the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development web site:

http://accd.vermont.gov/strong_communities/housing/planning/consolidated_plan

BIOFINDER webinar- how to use this mapping tool

Title: BioFinder for Vermont Planners
Date: Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Time: 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM EDT

Join us for a Webinar on April 10! BioFinder is a new online tool identifying areas that contribute to Vermont’s biological diversity. This webinar will focus on using this tool for municipal natural resources planning.

Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/241302544

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing
information about joining the Webinar.

System Requirements
PC-based attendees Required: WindowsR 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server

MacR-based attendees Required: Mac OSR X 10.6 or newer

Mobile attendees Required: iPhoneR, iPadR, AndroidT phone or Android tablet

Upcoming Online Floodplain Management Trainings

Example Floodplain MapUpcoming online trainings will cover a variety of topics, from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) basics through specifics of elevation certificates, and are presented by STARR staff, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and State organizations. Many of the courses are eligible for CEC credits for Certified Floodplain Managers.

To register for a course or to check on upcoming courses, navigate to http://j.mp/starrwebtraining and click the “Upcoming” tab.  Below are the courses available in April.  Courses like the MT1 training and NFIP basics are repeated frequently.

April 11, 1:00 pm Eastern – Elevation Certificates for A Zones

Training on the proper way to complete FEMA Form 81-31 and best practices for using the Elevation Certificate in the floodplain development review process. Special consideration to using the form in A Zone without a BFE. 2 CECs for ASFPM Certified Floodplain Managers (CFMs) that register and attend individually and pass the learning objectives quiz at the end of the session.

April 17, 1:00 pm Eastern – Biggert Waters NFIP Reform Act of 2012

The Biggert-Waters National Flood Insurance Program Reform Act of 2012 (BW-12) resulted in major changes to the NFIP. This session, presented by FEMA Region X, will provide an overview of the changes and what is being done to implement the legislation. Continuing Education and Professional Development Credits are available.

April 18, 1:00 pm Eastern – NFIP Basics

This one-hour session will cover the history of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), basic terminology, governing authority, and provide an overview of the community’s role in floodplain management through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The target audience are state and local officials who need a general understanding of the ins and outs of the program and guidance on where to go for more training and answers. Continuing Education and Professional Development Credits are available.

April 24, 1:00 pm Eastern – Preparing Data for Hazus

This session is targeted to those interested in how to update Hazus with local data from parcel/assessors information. We will describe the data required to update the Hazus general building stock data. The session will feature tutorials on how to update data using the Comprehensive Data Management System. We will also cover what is required for a user-defined analysis for the Earthquake and Flood modules. Continuing Education and Professional Development Credits are available.

April 25, 1:00 pm Eastern – MT-1 Basics

This webinar is designed to give a broad overview of the MT-1 review process and review procedures that will help applicants submit a completed MT-1 application to facilitate processing by FEMA. Attendees will learn what is required to submit a complete application, including how to fill out the forms and use FEMA’s new online LOMC submittal tool. In addition, the course will outline the differences between LOMAs, eLOMAs, LOMR-Fs, and conditional LOMCs. Participants will learn how to submit more complete LOMC requests that can be processed more quickly and with fewer additional data requests. The community’s role with regards to the MT-1 process will also be discussed. This course is designed for State and Local officials, engineers, surveyors, and anyone interested in learning more about the MT-1 process. Continuing Education and Professional Development Credits are available.

Statewide Economic Development Strategy

SAVE THE DATE: Vermont Economic Development Summit

Posted March 12, 2013

Please participate in this important kick-off to the creation of a statewide economic development strategy! Make your voice heard by participating in this gathering of Vermont’s leading business minds for a day of panel discussions and breakout sessions on the opportunities and challenges of doing business in Vermont. Sponsored by Green Mountain Power and Vermont Agency of Commerce & Community Development.

When: Monday, June 3, 2013, 9:00am – 4:00pm
Where: Paramount Theatre, Rutland, VT

Hazard Mitigation Grant Program – 5th round of funding

Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) 5th Round

The State of Vermont has received an extension from FEMA for the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) in connection with Tropical Storm Irene.

The Vermont Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS) is now accepting HMGP applications from towns and agencies in all Vermont counties in connection with the most recent disasters. The HMGP program is funded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and is administered by the VT Division of Emergency Management & Homeland Security. Federal funds are available to cover up to 75% of project costs. Applicants are responsible for the 25% local match requirement.

We encourage you to identify potential hazard mitigation sites in your communities and apply for funds under the HMGP grant program. Typical hazard mitigation projects would include: repair and mitigation of local roads and bridges, home or property acquisition (buy-out), structural elevations or relocations, replacement of undersized culverts, remediation of stream bank erosion, flood proofing of municipal buildings, etc. This is an opportunity for repetitive loss structures, businesses, and other buildings located in the 100-year flood plain to consider elevation, relocation or acquisition. Project proposals need not be directly connected to flooding from the most recent declared disasters. Towns may also apply for a grant to develop a local hazard mitigation plan or mitigation initiative projects.

You may download the HMGP application from our agency’s website at www.vem.vermont.gov or you may contact the State Hazard Mitigation Officer for an application. On DEMHS’ website, first go to the Mitigation Tab, and then click on HMGP Application and Forms.

Please note the following FEMA eligibility requirements:

1) Communities must have a FEMA approved and adopted local mitigation plan no later than the date that funds are awarded. Those towns lacking an approved plan should contact their local Regional Planning Commission for assistance.

2) Communities must be participating in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), if a special flood hazard area (SFHA) has been identified in the community. Please contact the Agency of Natural Resources state floodplain coordinator, Rob Evans, for additional information on applying for NFIP membership: tel (802) 490-6152 or via email at rob.evans@state.vt.us

The application must be completed in full, including maps, list of alternative proposals, engineering plans, hydrology studies (if needed) and a full benefit-cost analysis (BCA) in the FEMA approved format. If you need help in completing the BCA, you may contact your local Regional Planning Commission. Some BCA assistance may be available from DEMHS mitigation staff if you make a prior appointment.

Deadline for 5th Round HMGP applications: Friday, July 12, 2013.

If you wish to apply for an HMGP grant, please submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) to DEMHS by June 7. The LOI should include a brief description of your proposal and the total estimated cost of your project. Please indicate if you’ll need assistance in completing the application or benefit cost analysis.

Please submit LOIs and completed applications to:

Ray Doherty, State Hazard Mitigation Officer
VT Division of Emergency Management & Homeland Security
103 South Main Street
Waterbury, VT 05671
Tel (802) 241-5258 (office)
Email: ray.doherty@state.vt.us
Applications should be submitted in hard copy (paper application) and in electronic format such as a PDF file. Applications will not be accepted if submitted past the deadline.
Please note that HMGP funds are awarded on a competitive basis and all applications are subject to review and selection by the State Mitigation Project Committee and FEMA. Of course, feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns regarding HMGP or any other FEMA mitigation grant program.