It is clear that land use decisions made in one community can have impacts upon neighboring towns. A city’s failure to provide housing might push people to live in rural towns and commute long distances. A town’s desire to see commercial growth along a highway might result in strip development, draining a downtown economy. Sediment loads entering a river from poor construction practices in an upstream town may affect water quality and stream behavior in all communities through which the river flows.
Vermont’s eleven regional planning commissions were created, in large part, to provide a forum to examine such concerns, and the framework and staff to address them. The Central Vermont Regional Plan articulates CVRPC’s vision for a region in which important land use decisions are made in a way that is mindful of their broader implications. Accordingly, it provides member municipalities, regulators, and the general public with a number of goals, policies, and strategies designed to achieve a well-balanced, well integrated region.
The Regional Plan also provides the framework for CVRPC’s participation in Act 250, Vermont’s development review process. As a statutory party to the Act 250 process, CVRPC provides testimony on those projects determined to be regionally significant.
From time to time the Commission conducts more specialized regional studies. The Central Vermont Natural Resources Inventory and the Central Vermont Recreation Report are examples of such work.
CVRPC planning staff is also heavily involved in Chapter 117 amendments by providing assistance to the Region’s 23 municipalities with interpreting and implementing the changes.
Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG)
One of the Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission’s (CVRPC) lesser known, but important duties is the administration of Vermont Community Development Program grants on behalf of our member communities. In fact, over the past decade nearly $6,000,000 of this Federal community development money has passed through our office en route to nearly every municipality in the Region.
Community Development grants take two forms. Planning grants are used to develop plans, conduct research, develop organizational capacity, and propose strategies. Implementation grants are awarded for actual site work, construction and rehabilitation. Maximum awards for these programs are $40,000 and $750,000 respectively. Both require a local match which varies depending upon the type and amount of the grant.
Community Development money is well traveled, originating with the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, then passing to the Department of Economic, Housing and Community Development where awards are made, and finally to cities and towns. HUD money has a number of stringent compliance and reporting requirements. These grants are often administered by regional planning commissions because commission staff has the expertise and experience to interpret and ensure conformance with these complex requirements.
Community development grants may be awarded to projects which “strengthen local long-term community development planning, action, and responsibility for the benefit of all residents.” Emphasis is placed on proposals designed to benefit low and moderate income populations. Consequently, most of the projects funded in this region and elsewhere are for housing, economic development infrastructure, or the rehabilitation of various types of public buildings.
Some of the more significant community development projects
in which CVRPC has played a major role in recent years include:
- Purchase of equipment for SB Electronics’ new plant at Wilson Industrial Park;
- Renovation of the former Beck & Beck building in Barre;
- Construction of a new 25,000 sq. foot facility in Barre Town for the Vermont Foodbank to expands its services;
- Renovation of the Brook Street School in Barre City to house HeadStart and other programs;
- Acquisition and improvements to the Verdmont Mobile Home Park in Waitsfield and Evergreen Place Senior Center;
- Improvements in East Montpelier to the Fairmont Farm;
- The rehabilitation of Plainfield’s historic town hall;
- The development of business incubator sites at the “Old School House” in Marshfield;
- The development of a plan for the future use of the State Farm in Duxbury;
- The completion of a feasibility study for restoration of the White School in Worcester;
- The completion of a Statewide study on revolving loan funds; and
- The acquisition of the Limehurst Trailer Park in Williamstown.
Since 1983, Central Vermont has received over 14% of the almost 400 Community Development grants awarded in Vermont, despite comprising only 10% of the State’s population. CVRPC has administered almost a quarter of these grants by number and nearly half by monetary value.
Contact the Department of Economic, Housing and Community Affairs for additional information on these planning and implementation grants. The Department can be reached at (802) 828-3211. Central Vermont’s Community Development Specialist is Carl Bohlen. The Department’s web site is www.dhca.state.vt.us/vcdp. Most of the information one would need to know about the program is available on the DEHCA web site.
Call Laurie Emery at 229-0389 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to learn more about what we can do for you.