Transportation and Housing Topics at September 15 BCRC Meeting in Manchester
The Bennington County Regional Commission will be holding its next regular meeting at the Manchester Community Library (138 Cemetery Avenue, just off Route 7A north of Manchester Center) on Thursday, September 15. Presentations and discussion will focus on two issues that are each critical to the quality of life of area residents and to regional economic development: transportat

New Faces in New Places at the BCRC
The BCRC recently said farewell to regional planner and all-around graphic genius Mickey McGlasson, who is now pursuing a graduate degree in public policy at Carnegie Mellon University. And VISTA Nevin Lassard is off to a pre-dental program at the University of Pennsylvania, while VISTA Rory Price will continue her work in the community with Greater Bennington Interfaith Community Services.

New Roundabout on Northside Drive
The BCRC strongly advocated for construction of a new roundabout on Route 7A in Bennington as part of the Act 250 review of the new Wal-Mart plaza. Traffic analyses completed for the BCRC indicated that a roundabout would be the most effective way to manage through traffic and access to adjacent commercial properties along the region’s busiest section of highway. Cons
Municipalities Receive Better Roads Grants
The Vermont Agency of Transportation recently announced Better Roads Program grant awards for 2017. Municipalities in Bennington County will receive $134,264 for a variety of projects to be completed by December 31, 2017. The BCRC will create updated culvert and road inventories in Manchester, North Bennington, Pownal, Sunderland, and Rupert. This work will help position these communities to be in compliance with the 2018 Municipal Road Ge
Community Energy Dashboard
The Energy Action Network has initiated a soft launch of the Community Energy Dashboard, a tool that can help your community shape its energy future by using a powerful suite of interactive tools to set goals, track progress, map actions, and share stories. The Dashboard helps translate Vermont's goal of 90% of total energy from renewable sources by 2050 into achievable local action across all energy sectors - efficiency, heat, electricity
Act 174: Planning and Renewable Energy Siting
Act 174, designed to support local and regional energy planning and allow for greater local say in the siting of energy generation projects, was passed by the Legislature and signed into law this year. The new law offers communities that do “enhanced energy planning” a higher level of consideration through Section 248, the Public Service Board’s regulatory process under which energy generation and transmission projects are reviewed. For
Whipstock Hill Wildlife Management Area Plan
As part of ongoing planning for the Whipstock Hill Wildlife Management Area, the Vermont Departments of Fish & Wildlife and Forests, Parks & Recreation recently hosted a public meeting and is now accepting public comments on a new management plan. The 425-acre Whipstock Hill property is owned by the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department and is man
Act 171 - Planning for Forests
Act 171 requires that municipal and regional plans adopted on or after January 1, 2018 include consideration of forest resources. Plans will need to be consistent with the expanded state planning goal related to identification and protection of aquifer protection areas, forest blocks, wildlife habitat, and habitat connectors. The Act also states that municipal zoning bylaws may not regulate "forestry operations,” but notes that
ACT 90 Changes Plan Expiration Dates and Approval Requirements
The passage of Act 90 results in several changes to municipal planning procedures that will affect town and village plans. Municipal plans adopted after July 1, 2015 are now valid for eight years (extended from the previous five-year timeframe). Another significant change is a new requirement that communities must be “engaged in a process to implement its municipal plan,” meaning that communities seeking approval of their municipal plan b
Way to Go! Challenge: September 26-October 7
Remember that this year’s Way to Go! Challenge is taking place over two weeks in September and October. You can save energy, reduce your carbon footprint, get active, and maybe even win a prize! Learn more about ways to save energy and the environment through smart transportation choices and sign up at Way to Go!
Learn About Building Energy Audits and Weatherization
Thanks to CAT-TV, local building and weatherization expert, Jim Goodine, and Efficiency Vermont for cooperating the production of an informative video that describes the energy audit process and explains the most cost-effective ways to improve the energy performance of a home. Watch the video at https://youtu.be/bTI0WlrLP0k.
Water Quality Standards
The Department of Environmental Conservation has proposed structural changes to the water quality standards. The main areas being revised include how the state's water resources are classified with Water Management Types (A1, B1, A2, B2) and the development of an Antidegradation Rule. Water Management Types outline the uses that a water body is expected to support such as boating, swimming, fishing, or enjoyment of aesthetic use,
Batten Kill Watershed and Water Quality Planning Topic of July BCRC Meeting in Sunderland
The July meeting of the BCRC will be held at the Sunderland Town Hall on Thursday, the 21st, and will focus on conservation and water quality issues and projects in the Batten Kill watershed, subjects that also inform river, water quality, and land use planning throughout the region. The meeting will begin with a light meal and informal networking session. Following a brief public hearing and vote on the updated Bennington Town
Implementing Vermont’s Clean Water Law - Act 64
The Vermont Clean Water Act 64 became law on June 16, 2015. This act amends or enacts multiple statutes related to water quality in the State of Vermont including agricultural and forestry practices, stormwater runoff permitting, and the establishment of the Vermont Clean Water Fund. Major components of Act 64 are discussed in more detail below. Agriculture Act 64 amends several provisions regarding agricultural water
BCRC Supports Downtown Bennington Redevelopment
A consortium of local business leaders, institutions and civic-minded investors are organizing to transform the block of historic buildings at the Four Corners of Bennington into a vibrant, mixed use downtown space with offices, in-town living, restaurants and retail. Bennington Redevelopment Group LLC (BRG LLC) has reached an agreement to acquire the buildings and approximately four acres of land that include the Putnam Hotel, the Old Co
BCRC Receives $50,000 from Vermont Legislature to Build Regional Economic Development Capacity
The Vermont Legislature approved $50,000 for the BCRC to begin to build the regional economic development capacity required to implement the recommendations of the Southern Vermont Economic Development Zone Report. This money will be utilized to build a steering committee of primarily private-sector representatives to partner with Windham County to create a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) for Southern Vermont. This wor
ACT Programs in the Community
The Alliance for Community Transformations (ACT) is a regional coalition of businesses, education, health care, local organizations, parents, youth and more that work on issues of public health in the greater Bennington region. Headed by Kiah Morris, ACT serves a program of BCRC’s Healthy Communities Division. In October 2015 BCRC was awarded the national Drug-Free Communities grant to be implemented through the efforts of ACT an
Hoosic River Corridor Plan
In October of 2015, the Pownal Select Board and Planning Commission held a joint meeting to discuss the need for the town to develop a hazard mitigation plan. Much of that discussion revolved around the vulnerability of several of the mobile home parks in the town to flooding. Flooding can result from waters rising along the Hoosic or from restricted flows through culverts that pass under the railroad. The BCRC applied for and re
Southwestern Vermont COAD and the American Red Cross DAT
The BCRC held an informational meeting in June to discuss the formation of the Southwestern Vermont COAD. COADs are Community Organizations Active in Disasters and are comprised of various public, private and non-profit agencies, and community members that come together to enhance the area’s ability to recover from disasters. COADs are essential to helping individuals affected by a disaster. For small or large disasters, COADs pu
Bennington Trail Map
The Bennington area is rich with natural resources, including many trails and scenic getaways, but often those resources are unknown and go unused by residents and visitors. The BCRC is working with the Town of Bennington (with the support of the local trail enthusiasts) to create publicly accessible trail maps for more than a dozen existing trails in Bennington. The project is funded through an Agency of Commerce and Community Development
Ninja Path Update
The first section of Bennington’s Ninja Path will open soon. When complete, the path will provide a safe and comfortable walking, biking, and running route between Bennington College and Downtown Bennington, and points in between. The Town’s Highway Department will break ground on Phase 1, a 12-foot wide, paved, multi-use path connecting the Bennington College entrance to Hannaford Plaza, this July. Funding for Phase I comes from the Town
USFS South of Route 9 Integrated Resource Project Environmental Assessment Released for Comment
The South of Route 9 project has been designed to achieve desired conditions across the forest landscape such as improving wildlife and fish habitat, restoring soils and wetlands, improving a network of sustainable roads and trails, increasing the quality of recreation opportunities in the area, and protecting heritage resources. The proposal also includes the harvesting of timber to provide wood products to the local and regional economy,
Farm to School and Food Systems Education Initiatives at Northshire Grows and Hildene
Northshire Grows plans to offer a VT-FEED 101 training in the Southshire next fall. These courses for teachers, administrators, nutrition directors and wellness managers provide an overview of the many aspects of Farm to School programming and its connections to curriculum, cafeteria, and community. Northshire Grows also has started working with VT-FEED's Abbie Nelson and food service directors at Southwestern Vermont Supervisory Union a
Way to Go! Challenge: September 26-October 7
Remember that this year’s Way to Go! Challenge is taking place over two weeks in September and October. You can save energy, reduce your carbon footprint, get active, and maybe even win a prize! Learn more about ways to save energy and the environment through smart transportation choices and sign up at Way to Go!
Interest in the Region’s Village Centers Continues to Grow
In acknowledgement of Arlington’s efforts to support economic and community revitalization, the Vermont Downtown Development Board awarded village center designations to both Arlington and East Arlington Villages. This designation recognizes Arlington’s commitment to build strong and healthy village centers and creates a new partnership with the Department of Housing and Community Development to support the community’s ongoing revitalizat
Planning and Development in the Legislature
Several pieces of legislation coming out of the current session in Montpelier may affect local and regional planning and development. The BCRC has participated in the process of reviewing these proposals and advocating for changes that will benefit our communities. Some of the most significant include: Energy Siting: S. 230 enhances the requirements for local and regional plans and their energy chapters. In excha
PFOA Contamination Update
Work continues to evaluate the level and extent of PFOA contamination in water and soils, and potential related health concerns, in Bennington, North Bennington, and Pownal. The contamination is believed to be linked to former industrial operations at locations in North Bennington and Pownal. Engineering studies to determine the feasibility and costs of expanding municipal water supply infrastructure to residents impacted by PFOA
Energy Planning and Regulation To Be Discussed at March 24 BCRC Meeting
The regular March meeting of the BCRC will be held one week later than usual—on Thursday, March 24—at Arlington Memorial High School’s Mack Center. The first item on the agenda is a presentation about a new energy planning tool, the Community Energy Dashboard, by Linda McGinnis of the Energy Action Network. The “Dashboard” is an online tool where people can easily find out about renewable energy projects, evaluate possible locations for ne
Bennington Downtown Area-Wide Plan
The Bennington Downtown Area-Wide Plan was a hybrid project utilizing the protocols from two successful programs in Vermont - a new brownfields program sponsored by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) and the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) and the processes employed in eight communities as part of the Vermont Downtown Action Team (VDAT) disaster recovery project. The Town of Bennington hire
BCRC and BCIC Announce New Partnership
The BCRC and the Bennington County Industrial Corporation (BCIC) have entered into an agreement to work together in an innovative collaboration to ensure vital economic development planning, implementation, and resource development services for the Bennington region. This partnership is being undertaken with the strategic goal of consolidating resources, eliminating redundant effort, improving outcomes, and galvanizing the economic develop
Northshire Economic Development Strategy
The Northshire Economic Development Strategy (NEDS) brought together Manchester, Dorset and Manchester Village to discuss and plan the economic future of the Northshire area. This project was led by a diverse Steering Committee made up of representatives from each of the communities. The BCRC was hired to coordinate the study and to produce substantial elements of the project, working in conjunction with Camoin Associates of Saratoga Sprin
PFOA Water Contamination in North Bennington
The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation tested a number of water sources near the former Chem Fab plant in North Bennington, and results show varying levels of a potentially harmful chemical, perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA. The public water supplies in North Bennington and Bennington have been tested and are not affected, but five other residential and
Transportation Funding Alternatives Studied
The Agency of Transportation (AOT) has completed a study of potential funding sources, other than motor vehicle fuel taxes that will be sufficient to maintain the State’s transportation system in the face of declining gasoline tax revenues. Gasoline consumption in Vermont has declined consistently since 2005. A general reduction in vehicle miles traveled (VMT), stat
Green Building Cluster and Southern VT Business Accelerator
The BCRC and BCIC recently hosted Frank Knott and Jim Haguewood from Vital Economy, as well as Adam Grinold, Laura Sibilia and Kristin Mehalick from the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (BDCC)/SeVEDS, our economic development partners in Windham County. Vital Economy was the consulting team that worked with the Windham Region to develop its acclaimed comprehensive economic development strategy (CEDS) and the firm has been hired t
Public Meeting Focuses on South Shaftsbury Village
Over forty residents of Shaftsbury turned out recently at a meeting with representatives from the Department of Housing and Community Development and the BCRC to discuss challenges and potential solutions for the South Shaftsbury Village area. The Village is an officially designated Village Center, offering some important benefits and opportunities to access special programs and funding. The BCRC’s transportation program manager,
New Planning Manual Available
The 2016 edition of the Planning Manual is now available for download on the DHCD Planning Manual webpage.  This edition comprehensively overhauls the last one written in 1988 and is designed to help communities identify the issues that matter most and to help them focus on developing action-oriented strategies to tackle them. The Plannin
Bennington Oral Health Coalition Makes A Difference in the Community
The mission of the Bennington Oral Health Coalition (BOHC) is to improve oral health outcomes in the Bennington area. This past year a team of volunteers has created amazing results to change the overall oral health of many citizens in Bennington, making sure that dental health is a valuable and critical part of staying healthy, self confident, employable, and pain free. BOHC’s volunteers have been involved in teaching education
State Comprehensive Energy Plan Released
The Public Service Department (PSD) has released the final version of Vermont’s updated Comprehensive Energy Plan (CEP). The plan reaffirms Vermont’s ambitious goal of meeting 90% of the state’s energy needs – for heating, transportation and electricity – through renewable sources by 2050. The new CEP also sets interim t
Northshire Economic Development Strategy
The Northshire Econonomic Development Strategy (NEDS) brought together the Town of Manchester, The Town of Dorset and the Village of Manchester to discuss and plan for economic future of the three municipalities. This project was led by a diverse Steering Committee made up of representatives from each of the communities. BCRC was hired to coordinate the study and to produce substantial elements of the project working in conjunction with pr
New Federal Transportation Bill Provides Funding for Vermont
Congress has agreed on a five-year, $305 billion transportation bill. Vermont Transportation Secretary Chris Cole says the legislation appropriates $1.1 billion to Vermont over the five-year period. This total represents an increase of roughly ten percent for a variety of transportation programs. The additional funds will allow VTrans to accelerate its road repair program. Secretary Cole stated that progress has been made on imp
Municipal Planning Grants Announced
The Department of Housing and Community Development has announced awards for the 2016 Municipal Planning Grant program. The grants support local planning and community revitalization initiatives that build strong communities and improve Vermont’s quality of life. Grants are awarded annually; since 1998 the program has provided over $11 million to 232 cities and towns. This year, over $478,000 was awarded to 45 municipalities. Bennington
NeighborWorks of Western Vermont Services Available
The mission of NeighborWorks of Western Vermont (NWWVT) is to strengthen the development of a regional economy by promoting safe, efficient and stable housing—and community projects—through education, technical assistance, and financial services. NWWVT has redesigned their websites to provide easy access to all of their programs. One website provides information on the ful
Better Backroads Program
Due to anticipated funding for the Better Backroads (Municipal Mitigation) Grant Program next year, the types of projects that can be funded have been expanded and there will be higher caps on the grant amounts. The program also will fund work associated with paved roads. Types of project and maximum funding levels for each: Category A: Road Erosion Inventory and Capital Budget Planning - capped at $8,000 state with $2,000 loc
Vermont Outcomes and Indicators Report for 2015
The State of Vermont's Agency of Administration has posted the second annual State of Vermont Outcomes and Indicator Report, highlighting nine outcomes relating to the economy, communities, health, vulnerable populations, families, government, environment, and infrastructure. The report includes extensive data illustrated with charts and graphs, just two of which are presented below. To read the full report, go to
Solicitation for Local Investment Financing Proposals
The Local Investment Advisory Committee (LIAC), chaired by the State Treasurer, will receive proposals for local investment financing from interested parties from December 5, 2015 through May 13, 2016. Please see the Vermont Treasurer’s website for details on the program. Proposals for financing will be considered in the following area
Resilience and Adaptation in New England Database
The Resilience and Adaptation in New England (RAINE) web page is now available. This database catalogs activities in more than 100 jurisdictions in New England addressing flooding, heat, extreme weather events, sea level rise and more. You can use the database to learn from others, research actions that are being taken at the state, regional, or community level, and share actions that
Vermont Clean Water Initiative
The Clean Water Fund Board recommended spending $10.4 million to reduce nutrient pollution in Vermont’s waterways. The funds will be administered by state agencies in 2016 and 2017 once the legislature approves the plan during the upcoming session. Nutrient pollution carried in runoff can fuel excessive plant and algae growth in Vermont’s waters, such as blue green algae blooms in Lake Champlain. Over the past few decades, water
Thank You, Collette Galusha!
BCRC’s Holiday Open House doubled as a Farewell and Happy Retirement Celebration for BCRC’s long-time (44 years!) office and financial manager, Collette Galusha. In typically modest fashion, Collette accepted sincere thanks from many of the commissioners, local officials, and staff she has worked with during her time of invaluable service with the BCRC.
Draft Watershed Plan for Batten Kill, Walloomsac, and Hoosic Rivers
The Draft Water Quality Management Plan for the Batten Kill, Walloomsac, and Hoosic Rivers (tributaries to the Hudson River in New York) has been developed to protect and restore surface waters in these watersheds. The Batten Kill, Walloomsac, and Hoosic Rivers are significant source waters for the upper Hudson River. High elevation surface waters impaired due to acidity and elevated levels of sediment and nutrients also are reviewed in t
State Plan for Wildlife Protection
Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department recently released a draft Wildlife Action Plan that lays out the state’s strategic vision for conserving species during the next ten years. The plan assesses the health of Vermont’s wildlife and wild lands, identifies the problems they face, and outlines the actions needed to conserve them for the long term. According to the departm
Energy News
State Comprehensive Energy Plan Under Review The Public Service continues to seek input on the Public Review Draft of the 2015 Comprehensive Energy Plan (CEP). The draft reaffirms Vermont’s goal of meeting 90% of the state’s energy needs through renewable sources by 2050 and provides additional details on how to get there. The CEP includes several references to the regional energy planning work currently underway at the BCRC an
Public Meetings on New Required Agricultural Practices
Act 64 amended several provisions regarding agricultural water quality.  The “accepted agricultural practices” are renamed the “required agricultural practices (RAPs).”  The Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets has been charged to revise the RAPs by rule on or before July 1, 2016.  The revised RAPs have been changed to include requirements for: small farm certification, nutrient storage, soil health, buffer zones, livestock exclusion, nu
New ‘Clean Water’ Website
The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation Watershed Management Division has launched a new website, Clean Water Vermont, with helpful factsheets, presentations, and frequently asked questions. The new Vermont Clean Water Initiative – Clean Water Vermont -- reflects an exciting and
Municipal Roads General Permit
This new general permit is intended to achieve significant reductions in stormwater-related erosion from municipal roads, both paved and unpaved. Municipalities will implement a customized, multi-year plan to stabilize their road drainage system. The plan will include activities for bringing road drainage systems up to basic maintenance standards and additional corrective measures to reduce erosion to meet water quality standards.
Farm and Food Grant
The staff of the Green Mountain National Forest invites you to look over the October 1 to December 31, 2015 edition of the Schedule of Proposed Action (SOPA) available at their website: http://prdp2fs.ess.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd474881.pdf Please note the project contact (name, phone number and email address
Farm and Food Grant
The BCRC recently received a $5,000 grant from the Vermont Community Foundation’s Food and Farm Initiative to improve collaboration in the local food system and help develop an outlet for healthy local food in Bennington. This is the first grant the BCRC has received from the Food and Farm Initiative, the Vermont Community Foundation’s effort to provide healthy food to all Vermonters while increasing the viability of our local farms.
BCRC Welcomes New VISTA
Michelle Marrocco has started work at the BCRC under the SerVermont VISTA program, with support from Southwestern Vermont Health Care. Michelle is a graduate of Hofstra University and spent the past summer as a “Bike and Build” volunteer, bicycling from Portsmouth, NH to Vancouver, British Columbia with 23 other riders to support efforts to provide affordable housing across the country. Michelle will be working on a variety of projects i
Harvest of the Month Calendars
You can support Northshire Grows and their Farm to School Initiative by purchasing a 2016 Harvest of the Month Calendar. These beautifully illustrated wall calendars highlight Vermont fruits and vegetables, include delicious recipes and preparation tips as well as information about where to source local food in Southern Vermont! Co-published with Food Connects and Green Mountain Farm to School. They will make great holiday and corporate gi
Become an AmeriCorps VISTA at BCRC!
BCRC is currently recruiting for an open AmeriCorps VISTA position. We’re looking for someone who is passionate, dedicated, and eager to approach problems with a fresh perspective. The VISTA will support a variety of existing programs and develop new projects; he or she will serve for a one-year term starting in late fall, 2015. Candidates can apply through the AmeriCorps application portal using this link. If you have any questions about
Two Regional Public Meetings Focus on Renewable Energy Resources Planning
The September meeting of the BCRC will include a public presentation and discussion of the region’s energy future. The regular September meeting will be held on Thursday, September 17, at the Manchester Town Offices on Route 7A. The meeting will begin at 6:00 PM with several short BCRC business items, and the public meeting will follow immediately upon completion of those items. A second public meeting, covering the same energy planning to
EPA Community Energy Challenge Monthly Update
Speaking of energy, the New England Office of the US Environmental Protection Agency prepares a monthly update of covering a wide range of topics related to energy efficiency and renewable energy. The site provides access to important news, energy-related events, training, funding opportunities, and more. You can access this information through EPA’s
Community Solar Energy Resource
The Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network (VECAN) has created an online Community Solar Toolbox that provides up-to-date resources and information for anyone exploring solar energy. There are many types of “community solar” solution
Municipal Planning Grants
The online application for the FY16 Municipal Planning Grant (MPG) program is available. A little over $457,00 will be distributed statewide and up to $20,000 will be awarded to eligible municipalities chosen through a competitive selection process. See the FY16 MPG Program Description for details on eligibili
National Forest Comprehensive Trail Strategy
The United States Forest Service has developed a Comprehensive Trail Strategy to provide guidance and recommendations for the sustainable management of nonmotorized and motorized trails across the Green Mountain National Forest (GMNF). The purpose of the Strategy is to enable the Forest Service to efficiently and effectively respond to stakeholde
Transportation Alternatives Program Grants
The Vermont Agency of Transportation is pleased to announce that they are now accepting applications for the Transportation Alternatives Program. This year, roughly 50% of the TAP funding is reserved for Environmental Mitigation projects relating to stormwater and highways. The Program provides funding for the follow
Downtown and Village Center Tool Kit
Vermont’s downtowns and village centers define Vermont’s identity and brand and play a key role in our economy. These centers have been the heart and soul of Vermont for generations. The state targets incentives and aligns its policies and programs to both revitalize and attract new development to designated downtowns and village centers. This new publication describes strategies and examples of actions that can be taken to support and enh
Downtown Bennington Area Wide Plan – Greenberg Properties Conceptual Redevelopment Scenarios
The Town of Bennington is engaged in a project known as the Downtown Bennington Area Wide Plan. One particularly exciting component of the project is the creation of various possible redevelopment scenarios for the critical southwest quadrant of downtown Bennington (Greenberg properties). There is no developer in place at this time, but rather this work is intended to identify what may be possible at the site with an eye toward sparking in
Forest Stewardship Atlas
As part of a statewide forest stewardship project funded by The U.S. Forest Service, BCRC, along with several other regional planning commissions and The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, has developed a forest stewardship centric web platform called the
Northshire Economic Development Strategy
The Northshire Economic Development Strategy (NEDS) brought together Manchester, Dorset and Manchester Village to discuss and plan the economic future of the Northshire area. This project was led by a diverse Steering Committee made up of representatives from each of the communities. The BCRC was hired to coordinate the study and to produce substantial elements of the project, working in conjunction with Camoin Associates of Saratoga Sprin
Municipal Planning Grants
The online application for the FY16 Municipal Planning Grant (MPG) program is available. A little over $457,00 will be distributed statewide and up to $20,000 will be awarded to eligible municipalities chosen through a competitive selection process. See the FY16 MPG Program Description for details on eligibili
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
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 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
Farm and Food Grant
The staff of the Green Mountain National Forest invites you to look over the October 1 to December 31, 2015 edition of the Schedule of Proposed Action (SOPA) available at their website: http://prdp2fs.ess.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd474881.pdf Please note the project contact (name, phone number and email address
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
Farm and Food Grant
The staff of the Green Mountain National Forest invites you to look over the October 1 to December 31, 2015 edition of the Schedule of Proposed Action (SOPA) available at their website: http://prdp2fs.ess.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd474881.pdf Please note the project contact (name, phone number and email address
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