Smart Growth

Smart growth describes a pattern of land development that uses land efficiently, reinforces community vitality and protects natural resources. Smart Growth is about promoting development that is good for the economy, community and the environment. Key benefits of smart growth include the creation of diverse housing options; protection of farm and forest land; diverse transportation options and less dependence on the automobile; greater social interaction with neighbors; lower cost for public services resulting in reduced taxes; and a higher quality of life.  Our publication Smart Growth in Vermont features examples of Vermont projects that embody smart growth principles.

SMART GROWTH SAVES MONEYUnder a smart growth vs. sprawl scenario, between 2000 and 2025, the United States could save:

  • $12.6 billion in sewer and water infrastructure cost
  • $109.6 billion in local road infrastructure cost
  • $423 billion in property development costs

The key to successfully integrating smart growth projects into your community is careful attention to design and scale.  The development should be designed for pedestrians and fit the local context. If done correctly, smart growth projects will contribute to the evolution of Vermont’s towns and cities that has been ongoing since the last 1700’s in a manner that enhances the character and social fabric of our communities.

Smart Growth Principles

  1. Plan development so as to maintain the historic settlement pattern of compact village and urban centers separated by rural countryside.
  2. Promote the health and vitality of Vermont communities through economic and residential growth that is targeted to compact, mixed use centers, including resort centers, at a scale convenient and accessible for pedestrians and appropriate for the community.
  3. Enable choice in the mode of transportation available and insure that transportation options are integrated and consistent with land use objectives.
  4. Protect and preserve environmental quality and important natural and historic features of Vermont, including natural areas, water resources, air quality, scenic resources, and historic sites and districts.
  5. Provide the public with access to formal and informal open spaces, including parks, playgrounds, public greens, water bodies, forests and mountains.
  6. Encourage and strengthen agricultural and forest enterprises and minimize conflicts of development with these businesses.
  7. Provide for housing that meets the needs of a diversity of social and income groups in each Vermont community, but especially in communities that are most rapidly growing.
  8. Support a diversity of viable business enterprises in downtowns and villages, including locally-owned businesses, and a diversity of agricultural and forestry enterprises in the countryside.
  9. Balance growth with the availability of economic and efficient public utilities and services and through the investment of public funds consistent with these principles.
  10. Accomplish goals and strategies for smart growth through coalitions with stakeholders and engagement of the public.

Learn more about these smart growth principles.