Smart Growth Scorecard – Waterbury

Case Studies

Smart Growth Scorecard – Waterbury

Community overview

While the opening of Exit 10 on Interstate 89 in 1960 brought economic growth and tourism to Waterbury and neighboring communities, it also changed local traffic patterns and brought new development pressures. While areas outside of Waterbury Village were developed, many historic buildings in the Village suffered from neglect. For the past two decades, the community has worked to reverse this trend by attracting major employers, such as Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, within walking distance of the historic downtown, restored the historic Stimpson-Graves Building and Railroad Station, and ensured central services remain in the village.

Tools you can use

Before re-writing their Municipal Plan, the Town and Village of Waterbury wanted to first understand their strengths and weaknesses, as well as what local residents value about their community. They conducted surveys, held public meetings and sponsored a Community Fair to solicit feedback from residents. They also decided to answer the questions in the Smart Growth Scorecard in order to determine in what areas the Town was already implementing smart growth policies, and which areas needed improvement. This evaluation of their community helped the Planning Commission to identify priorities and topics for research and implementation.

Below is an excerpt from the 2003 Municipal Plan for the Town and Village of Waterbury, Vermont, October/November 2003:

Chapter 11: Land Use

11.5 “Smart Growth” for Waterbury
In November 2000, the Waterbury Planning Commission completed a community assessment tool developed by the Vermont Forum on Sprawl (VFOS) called the “Vermont Smart Growth Scorecard”. This assessment evaluated the impact of “sprawl” within communities. As defined by VFOS, “sprawl” is characterized by low density development outside compact urban and village centers, along highways and in rural countryside.  Some tell-tale features of sprawl include large lot developments, low average densities, large paved areas, fragmented open spaces, separation of uses into distinct areas, and the necessity of automobile-travel to meet basic needs. “Smart Growth” is an antidote to sprawl and seeks to preserve compact settlement patterns, encourage mixed-use development, preserve working land as well as historic and cultural facilities, offer choices in both housing and transportation, and involve citizens in the deciding the community’s future. Results of the Smart Growth Scorecard demonstrated that the assets of Waterbury village, with a mix of uses (commercial, residential, industrial and institutions) contribute to the town’s “smart growth” development patterns. However, the town’s current growth pattern, which is dominated by low density, scattered development, suggests that sprawl is becoming a problem in Waterbury, particularly along the Route 100 corridor.

Lessons Learned

  • A community diagnostic tool can help the Planning Commission and Select Board step back and analyze their community from a fresh perspective.
  • The Scorecard reinforced that the Village was an important asset, one that should continue to receive resources and community support.

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