VERNON—In early 2017, a group of Vernon residents organized a Vermont nonprofit corporation called Friends of Vernon Center, Inc. to help envision, plan, and promote the establishment of a village center in Vernon for the benefit of the town’s residents and visitors.
Since then, the Friends of Vernon Center has worked in cooperation with the town’s Planning Commission and Selectboard to make that village center a reality.
The organization recently announced that the IRS has determined that the Friends of Vernon Center qualifies as a tax-exempt charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
As such, donors may take a deduction on their federal income tax returns for financial contributions they make to the organization to further its work, and the Friends are qualified to receive tax-deductible bequests, transfers, or gifts.
Since its creation, the Friends organization successfully worked with the town to apply to the state for designation of an area of Vernon as an official Vermont Village Center. The designated area includes the Town Office Building, the Elementary School, the Governor Hunt House, a number of residential properties and some undeveloped land.
The Friends say that Village Center designation brings a number of benefits. These include financial incentives, training, and technical assistance to help attract new businesses and vitality.
It also qualifies towns and property owners to apply for historic tax credits to help finance development projects; and permits the town to apply for grants for purposes such as development planning.
The designation does not create zoning or other restrictions on property owners.
Since gaining the designation, the Friends of Vernon Center worked with the town to help it successfully apply for a 2018 Vermont Municipal Planning Grant from the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development for the purpose of development planning for the village area.
The town used the grant to engage planning consultants to prepare a conceptual development plan, including a detailed action plan to bring new businesses, homes, and vitality to the village. The plan was completed at the beginning of 2019.
The process provides multiple opportunities for Vernon residents to offer their ideas on the types of development to be pursued. The Friends contributed $4,000 in matching funds to maximize the size of the grant the town received.