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CVRPC | March 2014 Newsletter
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In this issue...
Plan Central Vermont Website Launch
Alternative Ways to Commute
Berlin Pedestrian & Bicycle Study
Plan Update: Economic Development

Central Vermont Food Systems Council
Emergency Relief and Assistance Fund
Community Rating System
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YouTube
YouTube
Website
Website

CVRPC Commissioners


Barre City - Michael Miller
Barre Town - Byron Atwood
Berlin - Robert  Wernecke
Cabot - Richard Payne
Calais - Rolf Mueller
Duxbury - Brian Fitzgerald
East Montpelier -Tim Carver
Fayston - Carol Chamberlin
Marshfield - Faeterri Silver
Middlesex - Ronald Krauth
Montpelier -Tina Ruth
Moretown - Dara Torre
Northfield - Laura Hill-Eubanks
Orange - George Malek
Plainfield - David Strong
Roxbury - David McShane
Waitsfield - Don La Haye
Warren - Craig Klofach
Washington - Gary Winders
Waterbury - Gunner McCain
Williamstown - Larry Hebert
Woodbury - Janet Shatney
Worcester - Bill Arrand

Upcoming Events


Mar. 11  – Monthly CVRPC Commission Meeting
Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce, Berlin

Mar. 25 – Spring Zoning Administrators Roundtable
CVRPC offices, Montpelier

Mar. 25 – Transportation Advisory Committee Meeting
CVRPC offices, Montpelier

Mar. 29 – 2014 Vermont Walk/Bike Summit
Hosted by Chittenden County RPC and Local Motion, the 2014 Summit will include a keynote address and feature workshops on innovative road & sidewalk projects, bicycle community, effective advocacy tactics, and project successes.

Mar. 31 – VT ANR Municipal Day at National Life
A day of workshops and technical assistance for Vermont’s local officials.

Apr. 1 – Regional Plan Draft Review Committee Meeting
CVRPC offices, Montpelier

May 19-21 – Northeast Climate Change Resiliency Conference
Antioch University of New England, Keene, NH

Around the Region

State Government Municipal Day on March 31


The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR), in cooperation with the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) and the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD), invite you to participate in an all-day event that will include poster presentations, workshops, technical assistance, and the opportunity to engage with Agency staff members and municipal colleagues from across the State. For more information or to register, click here.
 

Adamant and Cabot Village Center Designations


The Vermont Downtown Board officially approved Adamant Village in the Town of Calais and Cabot Village in the Town of Cabot as Designated Village Centers in January 2014. Congratulations to Calais and Cabot for successfully completing the application and approval process to designate these two villages that have and continue to serve as the social and small commercial hubs of their communities. 

To view the full list of Designated Village Centers in the State, click here.


 

East Montpelier Launches New Municipal Web Site


The Town of East Montpelier just launched a new web site! The new site at www.eastmontpeliervt.org includes a wealth of information about municipal staff, boards and contact info; resources for residents; ordinances and plans; and a community calendar. Kudos to East Montpelier for enhancing their web presence and making these resources more accessible.

Towns interested in assistance with a municipal web site should consider contacting the Snelling Center for Government that provides assistance on best practices and templates. More info can be found here.

 

Initial Statewide CEDS Findings Released


The Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development has released draft material with initial findings from the Statewide Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) process. These include a Competitive Assessment and Target Sector & Cluster Analysis outlining current conditions and opportunities for advancing Vermont’s economy, as well as weaknesses/issues that should be addressed in the forthcoming action agenda. 
 
The comment period has since closed, but for those interested in reviewing this information, visit the “Resources” section of ACCD’s Strategic Planning web site. Findings from the Statewide CEDS process will be valuable in informing the efforts of the Plan Central Vermont Economic Development working group.

Upcoming Grant and Funding Opportunities


Communities Caring for Tree Canopy Grants, VT Urban & Community Forestry (Deadline-April 11)

Cultural Facilities Grants, Vermont Arts Council (Deadline-May 1)

USDA Rural Development Community Facilities Applications Encouraged (Ongoing)

CVRPC Staff


Susan Sinclair
Executive  Director

Laurie Emery
Office & Grants Manager

Steve Gladczuk
Transportation Planner

Kim McKee
Regional Planner

Dan Currier
GIS Manager

Ashley Andrews
GIS Planning Technician

Stephanie Smith
Community Engagement Coordinator (A*VISTA)

Introducing the new Plan Central Vermont Website!

The new Plan Central Vermont website is now live at www.plancentralvermont.org! Here you will be able to learn more about the Plan Central Vermont project and our progress, as well as how you can get involved in guiding the Central Vermont Region toward a more sustainable future. Visit the Project Basics tab to learn about the purpose of the project, the timeline, and the vision for the future of Central Vermont. Visit The Plan tab to see our progress on the Regional Plan document by element beginning with the Economy element.

The interactive piece of the new Plan Central Vermont website is our Community Input Map. Here you will be able to provide comments and upload photos on a map of the Region in a variety of topic areas, including the environment, transportation, housing, and public health. These comments will be used throughout the planning process to inform the different elements of the Plan.

(There is more on the Regional Plan process later in this newsletter.)

Alternative Ways to Commute

Way To Go is a week-long challenge for commuters to find alternatives to driving alone to work. Started in Chittenden County in 1994, the Vermont event expanded geographically to encompass participants in 250 municipalities throughout the State in 2013. More information about the Statewide challenge can be found here.

What is happening for 2014?

This year's commuter challenge is May 12 – 16, 2014.  If you are interested in getting involved in this year’s event, please contact Steve Gladczuk at CVRPC at gladczuk@cvregion.com.

How can I benefit from finding an alternative way to commute?
There are several advantages to not travelling alone in your car/ truck, including:
  • Reducing the amount you have to spend on gas
  • Reducing transportation pollution
  • Improving your health
What commuting options are there in the area?
Commuting options in Central Vermont include:

Taking the Bus – Try Green Mountain Transit Agency in town and out-of-town routes.
Carpool/Rideshare – Talk to colleagues and neighbors, or check out the Go Vermont carpool database which includes a guaranteed ride home benefit. Also check out their Park and Ride options.
Bike – In addition to cycling along the roads, you could try out sections of the Central Vermont Regional Path in Montpelier and Barre Town.
Walking – There are several sidewalk networks in city and village centers that connect homes, schools, businesses and shops.
Telecommute - It’s simple and now more than ever, technology is on your side. Online services like Skype and Go To Meeting allow you to attend meetings from virtually anywhere. Telecommuting can also reduce stress and increase productivity.

The US Route 302 – Berlin Pedestrian & Bicycle Scoping Study


Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission (CVRPC) and the Town of Berlin (Town) have hired DuBois & King for professional services to develop a Pedestrian and Bicycle Scoping Study for the U.S. Route 302 corridor (aka the Barre-Montpelier Road) in Berlin.
 
The Town recently determined that the Berlin section of the proposed Montpelier-Berlin Bike Path cannot be constructed as planned. The abandoned rail corridor upon which the path was to be built is no longer available due to planned railroad operations. The Town and CVRPC are investigating other ways to safely accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians who travel along the U.S. 302 corridor in Berlin or otherwise travel between Montpelier and Barre City. If bicycle and pedestrian facilities can be implemented along the U.S. 302 corridor, they would serve as Berlin’s portion of the Central Vermont Regional Path (at least until a recreational trail can be developed along the abandoned rail line or at another location).
 
DuBois & King will inventory existing conditions, analyze current and future traffic patterns, identify alternatives to improve the mobility and safety of non-motorized travelers, and make recommendations for ways to best accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians along this busy corridor. The project limits extend approximately one mile in length from the Wayside Restaurant to Ames Drive.
 
The U.S. 302 corridor within the project area is highly commercial and is lined with businesses, driveways, turning lanes, signs, a rail crossing, utility poles, and several traffic signals. The project area has a roadway cross section that varies from two to five lanes and is one of the most heavily traveled traffic corridors in Central Vermont.  However, it has virtually no sidewalks, crosswalks, or bicycle facilities. Given its close proximity to Barre, Montpelier, and numerous commercial interests and its use as a commuter route between Barre and Montpelier, it is a corridor that begs for attention to better accommodate non-motorized users. This is especially true now that the Berlin portion of the Montpelier-Berlin Bike Path has literally been “derailed.”  DuBois & King will investigate methods to better accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists. These may include:
  • The addition of a separated, shared use path;
  • The addition of sidewalks coupled with the addition/widening of roadway shoulders;
  • Implementing a “road diet” to reduce the number and/or width of travel lanes;
  • Addition of crosswalks;
  • Consolidation of driveway openings; and
  • Creation of bulb-outs and/or pedestrian refuge islands.
It is hoped that some of the recommendations from this Study can be implemented in an upcoming paving project.  If the Study is adopted by the Town, other recommendations can be a guide for future development in the corridor.  For more information, please contact CVRPC Senior Transportation Planner, Steve Gladczuk, 229-0389, gladczuk@cvregion.com.

Plan Central Vermont Kicks Off Addressing Economic Development

A healthy economy is essential to maintaining Vermont’s quality of life.  The Regional Plan provides the community vision which guides the use, conservation, and prioritization of community resources, and gives direction for sound public investment that supports economic growth.  Key issues with regard to the Region’s economy identified at September’s kick-off meeting included the need to provide for an aging population, for a stronger understanding of what skills employers need for a strong qualified workforce, the need for more public transportation options, and the need to support value-added agriculture and technology sectors.

CVRPC staff has begun convening the Economic Development working group which is comprised of representatives from economic development groups, workforce development organizations, state agencies, area businesses, and municipalities within the Region.  The working group will bring their knowledge and expertise to the table to hone in on the key issues and trends affecting the Region’s economy, and to identify future collaborations and action steps to support future economic growth and the high quality of life we enjoy in Central Vermont. 

To review the meeting summaries and various draft materials as they are developed, visit the Strong & Diverse Economy page of the Plan Central Vermont website. The upcoming meeting schedule can be viewed here.

Central Vermont Food Systems Council: Winter Forum

The Central Vermont Food Systems Council held a winter forum on January 16 at Lost Nation Theater in Montpelier. The event featured an engaging talk from Herbalist Guido Masé about the medicine in our backyards and how to incorporate it into our food. The three Food Systems Council working groups then met to discuss some exciting projects and goals. Over the course of the next year, the Food Access, Education, and Public Health working group will focus their efforts on completing the Garden in Every School initiative in the three remaining schools within Washington County.   They will also work on enhancing school garden programs by creating a follow-up system and an online portal for teachers and garden managers to share information and resources. The Home Foods Systems working group discussed the creation of a Capital Area garden network for garden shares and educational opportunities. The Food Hubs, Economic Development, Land Use Planning and Conservation working group discussed opportunities for incorporating food systems planning into CVRPC’s Regional Plan update.

If you are interested in getting involved, it's not too late!  Please email Hannah at hreckhow@montpelier-vt.org and save the date of March 20 for the next quarterly meeting.

Emergency Relief and Assistance Fund (ERAF) Rule


The State has implemented an important change regarding State assistance after a major flood or other natural disaster.  ERAF provides State funding to match Federal public assistance (PA) after federally-declared disasters.  Eligible public costs are reimbursed by Federal taxpayers at 75%.  For disasters after October 23, 2014, the State of Vermont will contribute an additional 7.5% toward the costs. For communities that take specific steps to reduce flood damage, the State will contribute 12.5% or 17.5% of the total cost.

What is needed?  In order for the State to continue to provide funds at 50-50 (i.e. 12.5% of the total PA) towns need to have:
  1. Town and road bridge standards consistent with or exceeding those listed under the most current version of Town Road & Bridge Standards Handbook for Local Officials, published by VTrans;
  2.  A flood hazard bylaw or an adopted interim flood hazard bylaw as an intermediary step (24 VSA §4414) to secure enrollment and participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), if applicable;
  3. A local hazard mitigation plan (LHMP) that meets the provisions of 44CFR § 201.6 that has been adopted by the local community and is approved or in the process of securing final approval by FEMA.  The local mitigation plan may be part of a larger regional mitigation plan; and,
  4. Adoption of a local emergency operations plan (EOP) in accordance with State standards.
To increase the State share to 70-30 (i.e. 17.5% with the towns covering the last 7.5%), a town would need to implement either:
  1. Maintenance of an active rate classification (class #1- 9) under FEMA’s Community Rating System (CRS) that includes activities that prohibit new structures in mapped flood hazard zones; or
  2. Adoption of a fluvial erosion hazard (FEH) or other river corridor or floodplain protection bylaw that meets or exceeds the ANR FEH model regulations and scoping guidelines.
What does my community need to do?
Click here to check your town's status.  Nearly every town in the CVRPC Region has adopted the 2013 Road and Bridge Standards, all are in the National Flood Insurance Program,  and 19 communities have FEMA-approved local hazard mitigation plans with four communities'  LHMP’s under review. The local emergency operations plans will be worked on in April after Town Meeting, and in 2013 almost all Central Vermont towns adopted emergency operations plans.

Community Rating System of the National Flood Insurance Program

Implemented in 1990, the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) Community Rating System (CRS) is a voluntary program for recognizing and encouraging community floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum NFIP standards to reduce flood losses, facilitate accurate insurance ratings, and promote the awareness of flood insurance.

How CRS Works:  CRS communities are awarded points and then rated based on their local floodplain management activities that exceed NFIP minimum requirements. The communities are then placed into categories from class 10 to class 1 based on point totals.  All communities start out as a class 10 (no discount) and receive an additional 5% premium discount for each class as they progress toward a class 1 (45% discount).  The CRS point system is heavily weighted towards non-structural mitigation techniques, such as land use planning, zoning ordinances, open space conservation, building codes, flood warning systems, etc. 
The four categories of creditable activities include:
  • Public Information activities:  Local activities that advise people about flood hazard, flood insurance, and flood protection measures.  The activities can be directed toward floodplain residents, property owners, insurance agents, real estate agents, and others.
  • Mapping and Regulations:  Communities can receive credit for enacting and enforcing regulations exceeding the NFIP’s minimum standards.
  • Flood Damage Reduction: Communities can receive credit for efforts that focus on reducing flood damage to existing buildings.  Recognized damage reduction measures include:  acquiring, relocating or retrofitting existing buildings; maintaining and improving drainage systems; and planning for the best way to implement these and other loss prevention and reduction activities.
  • Flood Preparedness:  Communities can receive credit for effective flood warning and response
    systems in a comprehensive floodplain management program.
CRS in Vermont: Currently, the City of Montpelier is one of three communities in the State of Vermont and the only community in Central Vermont participating in CRS.  Montpelier is a Class 9 CRS Community and NFIP policyholders receive a 5% discount on their premiums.  Many Central Vermont communities are already undertaking some of these important steps to improve resilience to future flood events and could benefit from participation in CRS and reduced premiums for policy-holders.  For example, communities receive credit for having an approved local hazard mitigation plan or for having preserved open space in a special flood hazard area.

Where to start?  The CRS application process and documentation needed to verify annual implementation of these activities can be an administrative burden and communities should take this into consideration.  CVRPC staff is currently exploring ways in which CVRPC services can support communities participating in the Community Rating System.  To begin the application process, communities must submit a letter of interest to their FEMA Regional Office and document that they are implementing floodplain management activities that warrant at least 500 CRS credit points.  The quick check spreadsheet can be downloaded here.
 
Municipal officials and staff interested in learning more about the Community Rating System are invited to attend the Spring Zoning Administrators Roundtable focusing on CRS and being held at CVRPC offices on Wednesday, March 25 from 2-4pm.  Please RSVP to Kim McKee at mckee@cvregion.com or get in touch with questions about the program.

There will also be several CRS webinar trainings that will be FREE and held over the course of the next few months.  You can sign up for the webinars via CRSResources.org/training.  Upcoming trainings are listed below:
 
  • Mar. 18 – Webinar: Introduction to the Community Rating System
  • Mar. 19 – Webinar: Higher Regulatory Standards for the Community Rating System
  • Apr. 16 – Webinar: Developing Outreach Projects for the Community Rating System
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