October is National Community Planning Month! Community planning helps shape sustainable, vibrant communities, and this annual celebration is a welcome opportunity to reflect on some of our favorite community planning resources created over the years. In no particular order, here are our Top Five Community Planning resources:
Community Planning Toolbox
The Community Planning Toolbox introduces users to the 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 is organized into five main sections:
- Land Use Planning in Vermont– provides the background and framework for planning in the state;
- Legal Issues in Planning– touches on key legal issues associated with land use regulation;
- Issues– summarizes common issues such as preserving farmland or providing housing for residents. These summaries 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– outlines a particular policy, plan, bylaw or technique that can be used to address a particular issue in your community. The summary of each tool describes how it can be used and where to find additional resources. For general information on a variety of smart growth and planning topics, please go to our Smart Growth Resources section
- Case Studies– demonstrates 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.
Community Strategies for Vermont’s Forests and Wildlife
Over the years, VNRC has supported Vermont communities by offering proactive solutions to reduce forest fragmentation and parcelization in Vermont to maintain the rural function and character of our state. There are many different ways that communities can help sustain forests and wildlife at the local and regional levels, and the Community Strategies for Vermont’s Forests and Wildlife guide provides town officials and interested citizens with the tools – both regulatory and nonregulatory – to do just that.
Resilient Communities Scorecard
The Resilient Communities Scorecard helps Vermont communities assess their resilience to the growing threat of community disruption caused by climate change and energy scarcity, among other challenges. The Scorecard focuses on key areas including land use, transportation, energy, and healthy community design. Knowing where your community stands is a first step toward developing goals, action steps, and investment strategies that build or reinforce resilience. This tool builds on the original Smart Growth Scorecard, which assessed how well municipalities were prepared for the pressures of changing settlement patterns, especially sprawl. The updated tool will help communities address today’s difficult challenges – like incremental and scattered development, rising energy costs, and climate change – and help position them to meet those challenges. The Resilient Communities Scorecard is made up of 12 checklists on topics ranging from energy to land use to business development. Each checklist has a series of questions that when answered, create a “score” for each topic.
Groundwater Protection in Your Town: A Guide
Because of the importance of groundwater the Vermont Legislature passed Act 199 in 2008, creating (among many other things) new groundwater protection options for municipalities. For instance, now, large groundwater withdrawals must comply with town and regional plans, and the public has an opportunity to weigh in on a new state permitting process for large withdrawal projects. VNRC’s revised Groundwater Protection in Your Town guide summarizes what Act 199 means to municipalities.
Act 199 declares groundwater to be a public trust resource. That means it belongs to all Vermonters – a significant step in protecting the water we depend on. Declaring groundwater a public trust resource means that Vermonters – not any private individual or corporation – own Vermont’s water. The Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) is entrusted with the stewardship of our groundwater, and is enabled to regulate it in a way that benefits all Vermonters.
Maintaining the quality and availability of current and future groundwater supplies requires vigilance and involvement by private citizens, local officials, and state regulatory bodies, and each group has a role to play. This guide is designed to clarify those roles and help towns understand how they may take action to manage their local groundwater resources.
Municipal Planning Manual (from the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development)
The purpose of the Municipal Planning Manual is to provide a guide for municipal planning commissions in fulfilling their role and responsibilities as set forth in 24 V.S.A. Chapter 117, the Municipal and Regional Planning and Development Act. A major role of the municipal planning commission is to develop the municipal plan. The Planning Manual provides information that will help the planning commission with this complex task, from designing the planning program to adopting the plan.