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Town releases Local Hazard Mitigation Plan progress report

The full plan can be found at tinyurl.com/Brattleboro-2016-HMP.

BRATTLEBORO—The Brattleboro Selectboard adopted the 2015 All Hazard Mitigation Plan on Dec. 15, 2015; it was formally approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Feb. 2, 2016. It will expire on Feb. 1, 2021.

According to a news release from the Planning Services Department, the plan is revised after hazard events, such as the Whetstone Brook ice jam flooding of Jan. 24-25. Annual progress reports are submitted to the Selectboard and local media.

The plan adopted hazard mitigation actions classified as engineering projects, third party projects, regulations, buyouts, policies, and training and equipment.

The town has completed the Cooke and Sunset Lake Road Bridge replacement projects, the Pleasant Valley Dam toe drain, and is finalizing upgrades to the Police and Fire Communications system.

The Chestnut Hill Reservoir dam improvements have been delayed; construction is expected in the coming year.

The town has advocated for improvements to the Route 9 Melrose Street bridge to allow free passage of flood flows, but the project hasn't been placed on the State priority list. The project continues to be a priority for the town.

The town hasn't pursued stream bank stabilization near the tennis courts in Living Memorial Park and the Brookside Condominiums. The town has benefited from state reconstruction of the Interstate 91 bridges and private rail track upgrades.

The Brattleboro Housing Partnerships has permitted a floodplain restoration project for Melrose Terrace; the Partnerships hopes to receive pre-disaster mitigation funding to allow construction this year.

The Vermont River Conservancy is in the permitting process for a restoration project at 250 Birge St. Both projects will help protect adjacent and downstream properties and infrastructure. There will also be water quality and recreation benefits.

The 2015 Land Use Regulations incorporate improved regulation of natural hazards, including riparian zone management, steep slopes restrictions, and improved design standards for private drives and roads. The town has received emergency services ISO re-certification.

The town was re-certified as a Class 8 community in the Community Rating System of the National Flood Insurance Program. The town hasn't adopted local higher road and bridge standards, adopting the state standards. The state has been upgrading those standards with an emphasis on stormwater management.

The town has been supportive of BHP’s efforts to relocate residents from Melrose Terrace, with 11 buildings now unoccupied. The Partnerships has identified a site adjacent to Red Clover Commons for the phase II relocation. The town is currently working with Tri-Park Cooperative Housing to develop a master plan to relocate homes at high flood risk.

The town is working with the Army Corps of Engineers to develop dam inundation models and emergency response plans. The town hasn't pursued a drought response plan.

The town continues to implement National Incident Management/Incident Command System training and works with other agencies to maintain the school crisis plan.

Public information projects have been added as part of the CRS re-certification, but the town hasn't developed a Program for Public Information. Public outreach for the 2021 plan update will begin in early 2020.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #504 (Wednesday, April 3, 2019).

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