Sustainable Communities

For over two centuries Vermonters have sought a balanced path to economic well-being that recognizes the importance and interdependence of both community and countryside. VNRC’s Sustainable Communities Program raises awareness about how we can sustain our communities, economy, and natural environment with the land use decisions we make. To accomplish this, the Sustainable Communities Program builds on Vermont’s long tradition of compact, vibrant settlements surrounded by farms, forests and unique natural areas, and promotes Smart Growth approaches that give people real options for transportation, housing, and employment. We do all of this with a keen awareness of the role that community-based land use planning can – and should – play in climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The Sustainable Communities Program at VNRC focuses on:

  • Promoting innovative land use planning, with a particular focus on Smart Growth approaches, to create communities that are environmentally sustainable, economically viable, inclusive and resilient.
  • Ensuring the continued strength and effectiveness of Act 250, Vermont’s landmark development law, as well as complementary state policies that reduce sprawl.
  • Providing planning resources and expertise to professional and non-professional planners alike, through the Community Planning Toolbox, research, outreach and education, capacity building, and collaboration with partner organizations.
  • Supporting the state’s farming and forest economies to ensure long-term land availability and economic viability.

Program director:  Kate McCarthy, 802-223-2328 x114

Sustainable Communities Projects

Act 250 and Permitting

VNRC has, and will continue, to be a strong supporter of the integrity of Act 250 and an ardent supporter of open citizen access to the Act 250 process.

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Community Planning Toolbox

The Community Planning Toolbox can helps towns find ways to promote compact centers surrounding by working lands and open spaces.

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Designations/Growth Centers

Vermont “designates” downtowns, villages, growth centers, new town centers, and neighborhoods in order to channel growth and discouraging scattered development across Vermont’s valuable farm and forestland.

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Land Use Planning/Smart Growth

By focusing on land use planning and smart growth, VNRC supports Vermont communities working to create vibrant downtowns and villages surrounding by open lands, and to promote state policies that reinforce our historic development pattern.

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VNRC believes environmental policy should be based on sound research, and so undertakes research of its own where appropriate.

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Tax Policy

VNRC broadly supports land-use related tax policy that supports downtown investment as well as the viability of the working landscape.

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Working Lands

VNRC promotes the preservation of working lands through advocacy in the State House, and by developing educational materials to build capacity on these issues at the local and regional level.

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Small Grants for Smart Growth

The Small Grants for Smart Growth program, launched in 2018, provides seed money for community-based, local initiatives related to smart growth.

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