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Ferrisburgh Residents Call on Smart Growth Vermont for Guidance

In November of 2008, Ferrisburgh resident Judy Chaves contacted Smart Growth Vermont to ask for help. She was one of the founders of a group of neighbors – Friends of Ferrisburgh for Responsible Growth – who were trying to figure out how to defeat a large truck stop, convenience store, and fast-food restaurant proposed for a site on Route 7 in Ferrisburgh. The group knew that the proposal was out of keeping with what they wanted for the future of their town, but they were unsure about how to get any traction to stop it.

“We were at the point where we really needed some good advice,” Chaves said. “The zoning process is really confusing if you aren’t an expert, and we were anything but experts. Smart Growth Vermont has done a great job of helping us learn the ropes, and we’ve become a lot more effective thanks to their assistance.”

But Friends of Ferrisburgh is going beyond simply opposing a project that does not fit with the town’s character. They are also working with the Ferrisburgh Planning Commission to initiate a complete rewrite of the zoning standards for the entire Route 7 corridor through town. “We want more development along Route 7, but what we want are small businesses that are consistent with the character of the community,” Chaves said. “This is what our Town Plan calls for. What we realized through this process is that our bylaws need to be updated to make them work with the Town Plan.”

Smart Growth Vermont’s work with Friends of Ferrisburgh has been routed through the Vermont Smart Growth Collaborative, which has brought in several other organizations that have added their own expertise and resources. In particular, the Vermont Natural Resources Council has provided advice on strategy, and Preservation Trust of Vermont has offered the group up to $5,000 in matching funds.

If your community needs help identifying sensible solutions to development issues, please contact Jason Van Driesche, Program Director, at 864-6310 or by email: jason@smartgrowthvermont.org.