East Central Vermont: What We Want is the product of a three-year planning process funded by a Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant from the Department of U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, an interagency partnership consisting of HUD, the Department of Transportation (DOT), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The program’s goal was to support planning efforts that integrate housing, land use, economic and workforce development, transportation, and infrastructure investments in a manner that empowers jurisdictions to consider the interdependent challenges of: (1) economic competitiveness and revitalization; (2) social equity, inclusion, and access to opportunity; (3) energy use and climate change; and (4) public health and environmental impact.
This plan is consistent with the Partnership for Sustainable Communities’ six Livability Principles:
Provide more transportation choices: Develop safe, reliable, and economical transportation choices to decrease household transportation costs, reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and promote public health.
Promote equitable, affordable housing: Expand location- and energy-efficient housing choices for people of all ages, incomes, races, and ethnicities to increase mobility and lower the combined cost of housing and transportation.
Enhance economic competitiveness: Improve economic competitiveness through reliable and timely access to employment centers, educational opportunities, services and other basic needs by workers, as well as expanded business access to markets.
Support existing communities: Target federal funding toward existing communities—through strategies like transit-oriented, mixed-use development and land recycling—to increase community revitalization and the efficiency of public works investments and safeguard rural landscapes.
Coordinate and leverage federal policies and investment: Align federal policies and funding to remove barriers to collaboration, leverage funding, and increase the accountability and effectiveness of all levels of government to plan for future growth, including making smart energy choices such as locally generated renewable energy.
Value communities and neighborhoods: Enhance the unique characteristics of all communities by investing in healthy, safe, and walkable neighborhoods—rural, urban, or suburban.
Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission (TRORC) was the lead applicant for the grant and—with much help from the Consortium for a Sustainable East Central Vermont (Consortium), Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission (SWCRPC), our other subgrantees, community volunteers, and consultants—we created this action plan that moves us toward a more sustainable future.
The groundwork for the above-mentioned Consortium was set up before the grant was awarded. Each of the 40 towns in the region were invited to participate, and we sought input from agencies/organizations representing groups that traditionally do not participate in planning activities, especially the elderly and people with lower incomes and disabilities. Once the award was made, the Consortium was formed and guided the direction of this plan. We pursued eight interconnected areas of focus: Economic Development, Our Homes, Energy Use in the Built Environment, Regional Transportation, Healthy Communities, Climate Resilience, Regional Habitat Conservation, and Public Water Supply and Treatment.
This plan strives to support activity that will create a more resilient infrastructure that can withstand climate change, better local/state/federal budgeting for infrastructure needs, improved alignment of public services with private sector needs, a more integrated regional transportation network with fewer overall vehicle miles traveled, a more diverse and equitable demographic pattern, greater concentration of development in previously built areas, improved access to employment, and a pattern and form of land use that is more efficient, affordable, safe, and healthy.
HUD Preferred Sustainability Status (PSS)
Our region has been designated as a Preferred Sustainability Status (PSS) community because we received this grant. If any towns or entities within our region’s 40 towns are applying for federal grant funding, they might be eligible for two bonus points because they are located in a PSS region. HUD and its partners have committed to awarding these additional points through January 15, 2018. For more information about eligibility, contact TRORC at 802-457-3188.