Our Work

Smart Growth in Action: Fundamental Principles

Smart Growth Vermont is kicking off the New Year with a series on the principles of smart growth, and we’re starting with: Plan development so as to maintain the historic settlement pattern of compact village and urban centers separated by rural countryside.

Our ancestors had it right. Vermont’s traditional settlement pattern of clustering homes and services close together is sustainable and practical, allows for greater mobility options and nurtures a sense of community. The key to incorporating this principle is how we use our land.

Instead of building at the edges of our towns or cities on open land, we should first look to existing open or undeveloped parcels within our downtowns and village centers. Abandoned buildings can be given new life with thoughtful renovation. Infill properties can become homes, business and public facilities with the right design. With modifications to zoning regulations, towns can encourage new homes in their centers by decreasing their minimum lot sizes. These are a few of the many ways to utilize the land to maintain traditional settlement patterns.

One key outcome to concentrating our growth and development in our centers is protection of our open and working landscape. Updated town plans and bylaws are key to how we use the land. Careful consideration of where we build must be at the center of our planning decisions. Revised regulations that clearly define where growth should occur are crucial to the planning process. And the key to these revisions is active citizen participation. Ask questions. Attend hearings and meetings. Be a catalyst in your town.

Learn more about this and other smart growth principles on our website.