What is the Toolbox?

The Community Planning Toolbox (the “Toolbox”) introduces users to issues, techniques, and resources for smart growth planning. It features case studies and sample tools that demonstrate how other communities have addressed similar challenges to those facing your community. 

The Toolbox was developed by Smart Growth Vermont, which merged with VNRC in 2011. Since then, VNRC has maintained and updated this resource, which is organized into three main sections:

  • Issues provide summaries of common issues such as preserving farmland or providing a greater variety of housing types, and are designed as a general overview to provide a starting point for community discussions. Additional resources are provided for those who would like to delve more deeply into an issue.
  • Tools outline particular policies, plans, bylaws or techniques that can be used to address a particular issue in your community.
  • Case Studies demonstrate how a community has implemented a particular smart growth tool. The Toolbox includes a range of samples from around the state, including rural, suburban and more urban examples.

How to use the Toolbox

Browse Issues, Tools, and Case Studies using the categories in the left sidebar or using the drop-down menus below. If there’s a specific term you’re interested in (ie: Overlay; Scenic; Wildlife), type it into the search bar below for a list of all Toolbox entries (inclusive of Issues, Tools and Case Studies) that relate to your search term.

Our goal is to make the Toolbox as easy to use as possible. Email Kati Gallagher at kgallagher@vnrc.org with any questions or concerns.


We thank the project partners, municipal officials, organizations, private developers, consultants and dedicated Vermont residents who contributed to the Toolbox. Special thanks to the students and staff of a key partner, the Vermont Law School’s Land Use Institute and Land Use Clinic.

We are especially grateful to foundations who have supported the Toolbox’s development and implementation: the Argosy Foundation, People’s United Bank, the Davis Conservation Foundation, the Lintilhac Foundation, the Maverick Lloyd Foundation, the Vermont Community Foundation, TD Bank, and the Windham Foundation.