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Annual BCRC Dinner Meeting
This year’s annual meeting will be held on Thursday, May 21 at the Mount Anthony Country Club in Bennington. Vermont’s Lieutenant Governor, Phil Scott, will be the guest speaker at the annual meeting of the Bennington County Regional Commission. Born in Barre and a graduate of Spaulding High School and the University of Vermont, Phil Scott was elected to the Vermont Senate in 2000 and became Vermont’s 79th Lieutenant Governor in

New Regional Plan Adopted
The Bennington County Regional Commission adopted a new comprehensive regional plan following a second public hearing at its March meeting. The plan was developed over the course of 18 months by BCRC staff working with a steering committee chaired by Janet Hurley (Manchester Village). The new plan, consisting of thirteen chapters and 199 pages of text and graphics, can be downloaded

New Co-Working Space in Bennington
BCRC staff have been working with a team of local organizations and VSECU, Vermont’s Banking Cooperative, to develop an exciting new project: the Lightning Jar. Located inside the brand new Bennington Branch of VSECU (North St in Bennington), the Lightning Jar will be Bennington’s first co-working space—a shared office area used by a variety of different individuals with different backgrounds. The Lightning Jar will foster innovation and c
 
The Bennington Idea Fund
AmeriCorps VISTAs and staff at the BCRC are helping to create an innovative new community initiative called The Bennington Idea Fund. Operating similar to a small community foundation, the Idea Fund will collect investments from local businesses and use them to award small grants to various projects. These projects, or ideas, can come from any community member or organization, as long as they meet three criteria: The project must attempt t
 
2015 RAFFL Locally Grown Guide
The Rutland Area Farm and Food Link (RAFFL) just released its 2015 Locally Grown Guide - its tenth edition. The guide helps connect community members to the region's farms, farmers markets, and local food. This year's guide covers Rutland County, the Northshire of Bennington County, southern Addison County, and Washington County in New York. All of the listings are updated for 2015, including some newcomers. You can pick up a cop
 
Manchester—Dorset Public Safety Study Reports Released
The towns of Manchester and Dorset have collaborated on a study of the public safety services provided in the two communities. The towns worked with Municipal Resources Inc. to explore potential operational and cost efficiencies that could be achieved through cooperation or restructuring the current police, rescue, dispatch, and fire services. The final reports are now available at the town websites:
 
Community Rides Volunteer Driver Program
The Community Rides Volunteer Driver Program is a network of volunteer drivers managed through individual regional public transportation providers to offer cost effective transportation to community members in need of a ride. Volunteer drivers provide access to medical and social services, as well as to a variety of other important daily and social needs. Many of those in need of transportation are seniors, individuals with disabilities, a
 
GMNF Schedule of Proposed Actions
The Green Mountain National Forest’s current Schedule of Proposed Action (SOPA) is available at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprd3834191.pdf. Please note the project contact (name, phone number and email address) if you have interest in a particular project.  You can visit the GMNF website for more detailed informatio
 
Sunderland Initiates Safe Roads Study
The Town of Sunderland was awarded a State Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Grant to perform a scoping study that will evaluate potential safety and mobility improvements along Sunderland Hill Road and Hill Farm Road. There are several residential neighborhoods, an elementary school, the town office building and other important destinations along this corridor, but conditions are not ideal for pedestrian or bicycle use. This study will look
 
Household Hazardous Waste Collection
A household hazardos waste collection event will be held on Saturday, May 9th from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. See the flyer for more details.
 
Compost Bin Sale
BCRC is selling compost bins and kitchen containers for compost. See the flyer for details.
 
Regional Highway Safety Forum
The Vermont Highway Safety Alliance and the Bennington County Regional Commission invite you to participate in the Regional Highway Safety Forum. The forum will be held at the Mount Anthony Country Club on Tuesday, April 28 from 8:30am to 3:00pm. This event is free to attend and includes morning refreshments and lunch. The day will be organized around various speakers and breakout sessions focusing on education, enfor
 
BCRC Begins Work on Regional Energy Planning Project
The Vermont Public Service Department has provided funding to the BCRC and two other regional planning commissions to develop action-oriented energy plans that will support each region’s efforts to achieve overall state energy goals as laid out in Vermont’s Comprehensive Energy Plan. The BCRC initially will work with the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation to develop scenarios that will specify energy conservation and renewable energy de
 
BCRC Completes Analysis of Housing Market
Bennington hired the BCRC to complete a report on the local housing market. This project followed a recommendation contained in the 2013 Bennington Strategic Economic Development Plan to “produce a strategy to develop an adequate supply of housing units at affordability levels consistent with the workforce needs of Bennington businesses”. To develop the report, BCRC collected and analyzed economic, demographic and housing data;
 
ACT Applying for Drug Free Communities Funding
The Alliance for Community Transformations (ACT) is a part of the Bennington Country Regional Commission’s Healthy Community Design program. ACT was originally housed at the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC) and with continued support from SVMC, ACT has joined BCRC to focus on programs that support healthy communities. Ongoing projects are dealing with developing walkable streets, access to fresh healthy food, and improving recrea
 
Wetlands, Floodplains and River Corridors: A Case Study in Arlington
This past summer, the Batten Kill Alliance was preparing to undertake habitat restoration work in the Batten Kill in Arlington. They learned that they might impact a jurisdictional wetland, and the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources required that those wetlands be delineated. To assist them, BCRC mapped the wetlands and provided a report to VT ANR that allowed the Alliance’s project to proceed. The BCRC and the Alliance are usin
 
Benmont Avenue Active Transportation Corridor Study
The BCRC is conducting a study to transform Benmont Avenue into an “Active Transportation Corridor.” Benmont is a critical north/south transportation corridor and the only direct walking and cycling route between downtown Bennington and the commercial and residential area along Northside/Kocher Drive. Despite its importance, Benmont has no sidewalks between the Holden-Leonard Mill Complex and Hunt Street. There are no bicycle lanes, paveme
 
Transportation Board Releases Report on Millennials
The Transportation Board in January released its 2014 Annual Report, which documents the comments the Board received during a recent series of public forums that focused on the transportation needs and wants of young adults. “People have told me they would move back to Bennington if they could get to Boston easier or to New York easier,” a Bennington participant said. “That bothers me. People are not staying or return
 
New Pedestrian Crossing Treatment Guide Available
The Agency of Transportation (VTrans) has released new guidelines that are intended to ensure that pedestrian crossings are treated consistently throughout the state, on both state highways and local roads, by providing guidance on the location of marked and unmarked cross
 
USFS Schedule of Proposed Actions in the National Forest
The Green Mountain National Forest has released its most recent schedule of Proposed Actions (SOPA), available on their website. Please note the project contact (name, phone number and email address provided in the SOPA for each project listed) if you have interest in a particular project. More detailed information about projects on the
 
Public Concerns Meeting
February 23, 2015 6:00pm at the Arlington Town Offices Bennington County Regional Commission is hosting a local concerns meeting about the pedestrian access along VT 7A between VT 313 and the Arlington Recreation Park. This meeting is a part of a scoping study to hear from the public regarding their concerns about this stretch of highway and potential solutions including a new sidewalk or multi use path.
 
Work on Regional Plan Nears Completion
Comments received at public meetings held in the fall and submitted subsequent to those meetings have been incorporated into the draft of the proposed 2015 Bennington County Regional Plan. After a few final revisions, the Commission will decide at the January 22nd meeting when (probably in March) to hold public hearings on the plan.
 
Agricultural Land Use Planning Guides Released
The Farm to Plate Network's Agricultural Land Use Planning Task Force has prepared an update to the “Sustaining Agriculture” Guide, originally developed in 1994. The updated guide provides information and resources on new issues like food system planning, agripreneurism, and composting, while giving detailed guidance on historically important is
 
VTrans On-Road Bicycle Plan
The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) is developing an On-Road Bicycle Plan in an effort to identify needed on-road bicycle improvements on the state highways. The VTrans On-Road Bicycle Plan is a planning effort using public input and roadway characteristics to categorize state highway corridors into several tiers. The tier system will rank the state highway corridors for on-road bicycling based on where bicyclists ride now and wh
 
BCRC Completes Plan for Franklin Lane Improvements in Downtown Bennington
Franklin Lane connects South Street and Washington Street in the center of Bennington’s downtown, just one block south of Main Street. This public street is beset with numerous problems: unattractive appearance, poor lighting, complete lack of pedestrian facilities, excessive vehicle speeds, and lack of traffic controls among them. Bennington received a Transportation Alternatives grant to study the problem and hired the BCRC to complete
 
VTrans Establishes Chain-up Areas for Trucks on VT 9 in Bennington and Wilmington
The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) has implemented truck chain-up areas in both Bennington and Wilmington, in order to better serve the needs of motorists traveling on Vermont Route 9 and to help alleviate winter weather related traffic tie-ups resulting from tractor trailer units not equipped with tire chains. VTrans has placed message boards on all routes leading to Bennington and Wilmington and will activate them if winter we
 
Tutorial Center’s Youth Agriculture Project Recognized
The global organization World Education highlighted the Tutorial Center’s 9-year-old Youth Agriculture Project initiative as an example of an innovative program meeting the workforce readiness goals of the new Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), in an article on their website called "
 
Public Service Department Releases Vermont Total Energy Study
Vermont’s statutory goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 75 percent by 2050 and its Comprehensive Energy Plan goal of meeting 90 percent of the state’s energy needs with renewable energy by 2050 are ambitious and will require effective policy and technology pathways to be realized. The Public Service Department recently released a “Total Energy Study” that examines the costs, benefits, and challenges associated with various combinati
 
2015 Municipal Planning Grants
Awarded annually and administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development, the Municipal Planning Grant program supports local community revitalization and planning initiatives. Since 1998, the program has provided over $10 million to 230 cities and towns across Vermont to help breathe new life into communities, plan for future growth and development and improve our quality of life. This year over $475,000 was awarded to 4
 
Electric Vehicle Information Available
Electric vehicles are sure to be an important part of our transportation future, especially as Vermont moves toward attainment of its energy efficiency goals. Drive Electric Vermont provides a wealth of information on electric vehicles and charging stations, two of which are scheduled to be installed in Bennington in the near future. Most daily travel can easily be accomplished wit
 
Public Service Department Releases Net Metering Report
Net metering requires electric utilities to permit an individual customer or group of individual customers (referred to as group net metering) to generate their own power using small-scale renewable energy systems and qualified combined heat and power systems using non-renewable fuels. The excess power they generate can be fed back to their utilities. Act 99 of the 2014 Vermont legislative session directed the Public Service Depa
 
Community Flood Readiness Reports Available
The staff of the Green Mountain National Forest invites you to review the current Schedule of Proposed Actions (SOPA) that is now available on their website. More information about specific projects in the National Forest can be found at the projects page of the
 
Community Flood Readiness Reports Available
The Flood Ready website now has a searchable community reporting system that allows creation of reports that include compilations of town-level data pertinent to flood resilience and eligibility for support through the Emergency Relief and Assistance Fund. The website now also inc
 
Shoreland Protection Act Jurisdiction
Vermont’s Watershed Management Division has provided some clarification regarding the jurisdiction of the Shoreland Protection Act, particularly as it pertains to impoundments on rivers. The official list of lakes greater than 10 acres in size includes a number of reservoirs throughout the state. It is expected that those that
 
BCRC Completes Internship Report
BCRC was hired by the Workforce and Education Committee of the Bennington County Industrial Corporation (BCIC) to undertake an evaluation of internship programs in the Bennington area and to make recommendations to move toward a more comprehensive local program to benefit students, businesses and adults who may be in career transition. The initial evaluation report has been completed including recommendations for next steps. The report loo
 
Submitting Electronic Copies of Plans and Bylaws
The Department of Housing and Community Development has provided straightforward directions for required submissions of proposed and adopted plans and bylaws. Vermont municipalities are required to provide DHCD with copies of the first hearing notice and any proposed municipal plan or bylaw and also to send the final adopted versions.  By submitting the documents in a searchable digital format, DHCD can build a useful database for plan and
 
Vermont 2020 CEDS
In June, 2014, Vermont became one of the few states in the nation to complete a statewide comprehensive economic development strategy (CEDS). The Vermont 2020 CEDS was completed with a great deal of help and input from stakeholders around the state and with guidance and funding from the U.S. Economic Development Authority. It was approved by Governor Shumlin and accepted by the EDA in July 2014. Designed to help Vermont build become
 
LaFlammes Furniture Store Relocates
LaFlammes Furniture Store located at 239 West Main Street in Bennington, Vermont is OPEN FOR BUSINESS! The site, a former automobile sales and service facility, had been unoccupied for the past ten years. The BCRC Brownfield Redevelopment Program, funded through the Environmental Protection Agency, has completed numerous Environmental Site Assessments between 1998 and 2013. That program funded a Corrective Action Plan, prepared last year b
 
Bennington and BCRC Awarded a Grant To Build a Pathway Between the Applegate and Willowbrook Neighborhoods
The Town of Bennington received a $131,000 VTrans Bicycle and Pedestrian Grant for the design and construction of a multi-use path to connect Applegate Apartments and Willowbrook Apartments. A BCRC scoping study was the basis of the grant application. The Commission will continue to manage the project. The new path will span a wetland and stream to connect a 1
 
High Risk Rural Roads Program
For the fourth year in a row, the BCRC is taking part in the High Risk Rural Roads (HRRR) program offered by the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans). The program is federally funded and primarily focuses on updating road signs, pavement markings, delineators (reflective pavement markers), and object markers. The HRRR program was developed to help implement low cost safety improvements targeted at reducing major crashes on Vermont’s r
 
New Online Resource to Help Vermont Communities Avoid Flood Damage
A new online tool is available to help communities become more flood resilient: Flood Ready Vermont at www.floodready.vermont.gov. Flood Ready Vermont compiles maps, information, and learning from around the state. This website will help community leaders in their work to avoid damage from flooding and to become more flood resilient. You will find information on post-di
 
BCRC VISTAs, Staff Settle Into New Office
The BCRC Office Expansion is complete, and the nearly 1,000 square feet of renovated space adjacent to the BCRC office is open for business, complete with five office stations, a storage closet, a small meeting area, and a refrigerator, microwave, and coffee machine. The project was undertaken over the last few months to accommodate our expanding staff, including: Pete Domine, Assistant Planner for the Solid Waste Management and
 
Planning for Act 148
The Vermont Legislature passed Act 148, the Universal Recycling Law, in 2012. The law seeks to increase the amount of material that is recycled by phasing out what can be sent to landfills, including banning recyclables, food scraps and yard debris from landfills. The law also seeks to provide more choices and convenience for Vermont residents, businesses and institutions to foster recycling and composting. The Vermont Agency of Natural Re
 
Stamford: Hazard Mitigation Draft
The Town of Stamford has completed a draft hazard mitigation plan intended to identify mitigation measures for potential natural hazards that could affect the town. If you have comments or questions, please contact Michael Batcher at mbatcher@bcrcvt.org or 802-442-0713 x 2 by August 21, 2014.
 
Bill Colvin Runs More than Community Development Programs
BCRC’s Sustainable Community Development Program Director, Bill Colvin, also is a runner—and a good one. After completing the Vermont City Marathon over the Memorial Day weekend, Bill returned to Bennington to run the UCS Go the Distance 5K, and won! Bill covered the hilly route in 20:11, just edging out the second place finisher, his wife, Jessica. The United Counseling Service of Bennington County organizes the annual 5K to hel
 
BCRC Completes Study of Bicycle Parking
For the past ten weeks, Pete Domine, the BCRC’s Transportation Program Intern, has been working with staff to create a Bicycle Parking Report for the region. Bicycle parking facilities at key destinations are a necessary part of a community’s cycling infrastructure. Providing plentiful and functional bicycle parking will encourage the use and continued growth of this mode of tr
 
BCRC’s Office and Staff Continue to Grow
The BCRC is welcoming Kiah Morris to the staff as a part-time employee who will be overseeing work funded by a Vermont Department of Health grant while also directing the Alliance for Community Transformations (ACT). Pete Domine also will be joining us as a part-time employee, working on solid waste management projects and transportation planning studies.
 
VT Standard River Management Principles and Practices
The VT Rivers Program has been under development for a decade but since Tropical Storm Irene, a number of important policies and regulations have been developed and updated. Some of the key rules, permit information, and management guidelines can be found at the Rivers Program website:
 
Loan Limits Increased for Agricultural and Forestry Borrowers
The Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) has announced that aggregate loan limits for agricultural and forest products borrowers have increased substantially.  Effective July 1, 2014, the statutory limit on the aggregate outstanding loan balances to any borrower at any time through VEDA’s agricultural loan program, the Vermont Agricultural Credit Corporation (VACC), has gone from $1.355 million to $2.0 million. VACC is a
 
Municipal Planning Grant Applications Now Available
The Department of Housing and Community Development has released application materials for this year’s municipal planning grant program. Up to $20,000 will be awarded to eligible municipalities chosen through a competitive selection process. See the FY15 MPG Program Description for details on eligibility, funding
 
Community Flood Readiness Reports Available
The staff of the Green Mountain National Forest invites you to review the current Schedule of Proposed Actions (SOPA) that is now available on their website. More information about specific projects in the National Forest can be found at the projects page of the
 
Manchester Depot Street Re-Design Public Meeting
The BCRC will present an updated Depot Street Corridor Study at the Manchester Planning Commission meeting on Monday, July 21 at 7 p.m. in the Kilburn Room in Town Hall. The meeting is open to the public and comments are welcome. The study recommends changes to Depot Street to make it a safer and more appealing for cyclists and pedestrians. For more information, contact
 
Manchester Depot Street Re-Design Public Meeting
Efficiency Vermont is working with Vermont municipalities to encourage their residents to build more energy efficient homes. As part of this effort, EV and the Energy Code Assistance Center have prepared a new Municipal Guide to Vermont Energy Codes and Above-Code Programs. This resource document provides background informati
 
Solar Energy Property Tax Changes
The Legislature made some important changes to solar property tax law in an effort to create more consistency while maintaining incentives. The State Education Fund now exempts systems 50kW and under from state tax (up from 10kW) and removes the sunset provision in 2023 that would have caused the 50kW exemption to automatically expire. Systems over 50kW will continue to be taxed at a rate of $4/kW. A new methodology for municipal
 
Shoreland Protection Act Informational Meeting July 21 in Woodford
As you may already be aware, this May the Vermont General Assembly passed shoreland protection legislation that applies to activities within 250 feet of a lake’s mean water level for all lakes greater than 10 acres in size. The Shoreland Protection Act (Chapter 49A of Title 10 §1441 et seq.), effective July 1st of this year, establishes a new state regulation for guiding shoreland development. The intent of the Act is to prevent degradatio
 
Summer 2014 Solid Waste Management Newsletter
There are numerous opportunities in Bennington County for recycling clothing, shoes and other textiles. This Summer 2014 BCRC Solid Waste Management Newsletter lists locations where residents can bring used clothing for reuse or recycling. The main requirement is that clothing be clean and odor free.
 
Working Land Enterprise Grants Awarded
Wilcox Ice Cream receives funding to support manufacturing The Working Lands Enterprise Board announced this year’s grant recipients from its “Enterprise Investment” area, awarding approximately $300,000 to 19 grantees in 11 counties of the state representing the agriculture, forestry and forest products sectors, (3 forestry projects and 16 agriculture projects), leveraging over $350,000 in matching funds. “W
 
New Universal Recycling Law - Act 148
Vermont’s new Universal Recycling law establishes uniform standards and requirements for recycling across the state that will facilitate re-use of valuable materials that would otherwise be landfilled. There is a potential to at least double the amount of materials recycled in Vermont. Recycling materials and compositing food scraps and leaf and yard debris will save money, lower Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions (estimated 38% improv
 
Flood Resiliency Guide
A property owner's guide to re-building for flood resiliency was produced by Peg Elmer of Community-Resilience.org with help from numerous organizations and individuals. It provides guidance and links to resources for property owners interested in learning how they can make their properties less vulnerable to flood damage.
 
Pat Moulton Powden to Head Commerce and Community Development
Pat Moulton Powden will replace current ACCD Secretary Lawrence Miller in June. Secretary Miller will become senior advisor to the Governor and Chief of Health Care Reform. Pat has held several key posts in state government, including Chair of the Natural Resources Board, Labor Commissioner, and most recently as Deputy Secretary of ACCD. She currently serves as the executive director of the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation. Pat
 
Open Studio on the Molly Stark Byway
Vermont residents rave about Open Studio Weekend. Experience it for yourself to find out why. On May 24 and 25, 2014, participating art and craft studios welcome visitors for browsing, conversation and sales. Artists and artisans located along and near the Molly Stark Byway will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Meet the makers of fine furniture, glass, pottery, garden art, paintings, and more and take a behind-the-scenes look at how it's m
 
Northeast Climate Change Preparedness Conference
May 19—21, Manchester, NH Antioch University New England and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Regions 1 and 2 are hosting a regional conference for local planners, decision-makers and educators to understand how to create healthy resilient communities that are better prepared to handle severe weather and climate impacts. The first two days of the conference are about Building Resilient Communities
 
New Report from FEMA: Integrating the Local Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan into a Community’s Comprehensive Plan
FEMA developed this GUIDEBOOK to explain and demonstrate how to integrate natural hazard mitigation concepts into local comprehensive plans. The guidebook describes the benefits of integration, provides examples of how it can be accomplished, reviews existing state authorities and regulations, and highl
 
Act 250 Data Shows Most Cases Reviewed as Minor Applications and Few Denials
An average of 356 Act 250 permits were applied for, statewide, each year between 2008 and 2013. Of these permits, 80% were treated as minor (meaning that the applications did not require a hearing). If the District Environmental Commission finds that a proposed project is not likely to significantly or adversely affect the environment under the Act's ten review criteria, it is generally treated as a minor application which can proceed on a
 
Regional Plan Update Progress
BCRC staff have been working with the Regional Plan update committee over the past several months. The “People” and “Landscape” chapters of the Plan will be completed by mid-June when they will be posted on our website. We will review and discuss those sections at our regular meeting in July—look for a notice!
 
VT Low-Impact Hydropower Screening Proposal Being Developed
A proposal is being developed for consideration that may result in assistance and expedited review of hydroelectric projects located at existing dam sites (such as the projects currently being pursued on the Walloomsac and Hoosic Rivers in our region). The initiative would see the Vermont Public Service Department, Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, and Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development coordinate efforts to assist dev
 
Renewable Energy Atlas Provides Easy Access to Information On Wind, Solar, Hydroelectric, and Other Resources
The Renewable Energy Atlas of Vermont is a tool for identifying, analyzing, and visualizing existing and promising locations for renewable energy projects. You can click on a town (or several towns or county / counties) and select from a thorough suite of renewable energy options: biomass, effic
 
Mixed Use Development Concept for Downtown
The BCRC has worked with local officials in Bennington to create a concept for a mixed use development project in the downtown area. The project could include a mix of retail, residential, community, and open space uses. Its location in the downtown would help to revitalize surrounding properties and bring new life to the area. The town has expressed an interest in
 
2014 Bike-Ped Grant Application
VTrans has released the applications for this year’s bicycle and pedestrian grant program. The Bike/Ped Program provides funding for either a scoping study or a design/construction project for the following facilities: Bicycle lanes (on-road facility delineated with pavement markings and signs) Shoulders (generally a minimum of 3-feet wide to accommodate bicyclists) Sidewalks Pedestrian crossing imp
 
Municipal Planning Grant Applications to be Released in June
The Department of Housing and Community Development will announce the details of the FY15 Municipal Planning Grants (MPGs)
 
 
Planning and Zoning Forum
June 4 - Lake Morey Resort, Fairlee Land use officials from around the state will discuss important topics in planning and zoning regulation at this workshop. Representatives from the Environmental Division of the Superior Court will discuss decision making with municipal land use officials and present an introduction to the mediation process. Other experts will weigh in on enforcement of land use decision and regulations, conducti