Smart Growth Report Card

The 2021 Smart Growth Progress Report is now available! View it here.

What is the Progress Report?

In 2003, the Vermont Smart Growth Collaborative (which included Smart Growth Vermont*, VNRC, Conservation Law Foundation, Preservation Trust of Vermont, and others) evaluated state policies and spending practices to determine the extent to which those decisions were reinforcing – or undermining – the state’s smart growth policies.

The result of that evaluation was presented in the State of Vermont Smart Growth Progress Report, published in 2003. The report covered the period between 1998 and 2002. It focused on state programs most likely to affect land use and development patterns and analyzed spending and budgetary decisions to determine whether they promoted smart growth or sprawl.

In 2007, Smart Growth Vermont published an update of the Progress Report (find it here) that evaluated state investments between 2002 and 2006. The 2021 update looks at investments from 2013 to 2019.

*Smart Growth Vermont merged with VNRC in 2011.


There are many causes of sprawl. These range from the choices that people make about where to live, work and shop, to the decisions of municipal and state governments related to economic development, housing, transportation and infrastructure improvements, and the location of public offices.

Despite a common perception that land use patterns are largely the result of market forces, state policy and spending decisions exert a significant influence on how our communities grow, and how private developers decide where to locate new homes and commercial space.

In Vermont, the state’s official policy has been to plan development so as to maintain the historic settlement pattern of compact village and urban centers separated by rural countryside since at least the passage of Act 200 in 1988. In addition, the state planning and development goals that were adopted at that time state that “economic growth should be encouraged in locally designated growth areas, or employed to revitalize existing village and urban centers, or both” and that “public investments, including the construction or expansion of infrastructure, should reinforce the general character and planned growth patterns of the area.”

To achieve these goals, the state must focus public investments on facilities, infrastructure and development activities that support smart growth, and avoid those decisions and investments that subsidize sprawl.

Click here or on the image to view the 2021 Smart Growth Progress Report.

The 2003 and 2007 Smart Growth Progress Reports are also available to view. The 2007 Progress Report was designed as a supplement to the 2003 report, and therefore does not include detailed background information regarding existing smart growth laws, programs and policies in Vermont and other states, comprehensive definitions of sprawl and smart growth, or exhaustive descriptions of the various programs and the methodology used to compile and analyze the information.