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State awards $50,000 to area towns for planning grants

A common theme in many projects: flooding mitigation

For project summaries and local contact information on the FY18 municipal planning grants, visit the Agency of Commerce and Community Development website at accd.vermont.gov.

The Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development recently announced its fiscal year 2018 municipal planning grant recipients.

“As Vermont continues to grow its economy, maintain a high quality of life and attract new people and business to the state, Municipal Planning Grants help communities accelerate local solutions, energize downtowns, and remove barriers to much-needed housing,” said Department of Housing and Community Development Commissioner Katie Buckley in a Dec. 5 news release.

Windham County was well represented in this year’s round of grants. Of the $464,920 awarded to 37 municipalities across the state, just over $50,000 of it will come to area towns.

Mitigating flooding was a common denominator in many county projects.

Halifax’s $8,000 grant will help town officials develop a plan to reduce the effects of flooding on private property and public infrastructure.

In Whitingham, the town will use their $8,770 to “reduce the effects of extreme weather events by strengthening the community’s regulations regarding development near rivers, streams, and floodplains,” says the news release.

Newfane’s Planning Commissioners are revising the Town Plan, and their $8,000 award will help them design a plan to restore the vitality of the town’s villages while protecting them from future floods.

Rockingham administrators are also revising their Town Plan, and their $12,453 grant will identify and reduce flood risks and develop new policies and strategies to support economic development and increase housing options.

In Vernon, the $20,000 grant will fund continued work on recently-designated village center. Unlike many rural towns, Vernon didn’t grow around a central square, and the Planning Commission is working to develop one.

Planning Commission member Martin Langeveld told The Commons the work is still in early stages.

“The first steps will just be to write a Request for Qualifications and circulating that [to] attract proposals from design consultants — typically landscape/urban planning outfits. We will interview some of those and choose a consultant,” he said.

Once the town hires the consultant, “Only then does the real work begin,” Langeveld said. “That will include having public sessions for Vernon people to come and brainstorm what they want this village to look like.”

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Originally published in The Commons issue #441 (Wednesday, January 10, 2018). This story appeared on page A1.

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