Community Assessment


Community Assessment

In brief

Often the most challenging obstacle to land use planning is knowing where to begin. Using a diagnostic tool can help you understand your community’s strengths and areas for improvement, enabling you to prioritize how to best direct your energy and resources.

The issue

Let’s say your community would like to implement some of the smart growth principles you have learned about from Smart Growth Vermont. But you or your planning commission are struggling with where to begin. Do you build on your current work, or make a fresh start? Do you begin with a new plan or update your existing one? Are there bylaws and policies that should be developed or re-evaluated?

In any community, a combination of factors may either promote smart growth or allow (even encourage) sprawl. Because Vermont is a state of uncommon beauty and strong, close-knit communities, it is inevitable that we will face pressures to change and grow. Growth itself is neither inherently positive nor negative. The decisions that your community makes, however, will determine whether the impacts of growth are positive or problematic.

Related Case Studies


The Resilient Communities Scorecard provides guidance for beginning a community dialogue and taking the vital first step – assessing where your community is now and determining the key factors that are shaping its future. This community self-assessment tool provides questions that local planners and citizens can ask themselves to see where their town or city stands on the sprawl to smart growth continuum. It’s a valuable guide for updating town plans and regulations and encouraging citizen involvement.

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