Land Use: Amendments to the 2008 Element
In Central Vermont, new growth has historically occurred in a compact form within or adjacent to established centers. This pattern allowed businesses and residents to take advantage of existing services and facilities and helped to reinforce the economic and social importance of our downtowns and villages.
Over the past several decades, however, this pattern has started to change. Much of the residential construction over the past thirty years has taken place on large lots located on the back roads of predominantly rural communities. With greater frequency, new businesses have located along the state highways, interstate exits, and collector roads, or in areas where other infrastructure improvements have been provided.
The Land Use Element of Plan Central Vermont will address desired future land use patterns for the Region, including the appropriate location, intensity and character of development, and goals and strategies to reinforce Vermont’s traditional settlement pattern of compact centers separated by rural countryside.
Land Use Element Updates
State Statute directs Regional Plans to include a “land use element, which shall consist of a map and statement of present and prospective land uses.” (24 V.S.A. § 4348). The Map identifies general Planning Areas that will be used to guide land use and development in the Central Vermont Region over the next eight year regional planning cycle. CVRPC is currently amending the Land Use element of the 2008 Regional Plan to address this specific statutory requirement. The full Plan update will be adopted in 2016.
For further background, view a video of a March 9 presentation by Peter Gregory, Executive Director of Two Rivers Ottauquechee Regional Commission. The presentation addresses the statutory requirements and role of the regional future land use plan (presentation begins at minute 5:30).
The Planning Areas are not meant to be detailed representations of current conditions, nor are they intended to be distinct areas of segregated future land uses. The Planning Areas focus on the overall pattern and form of development across the rural to urban spectrum rather than on specific densities or uses, which are more properly defined at the local level.
For a full understanding of the draft Amendments to the 2008 Land Use Element, the following materials will be helpful:
- Text of the draft Amendments to the 2008 Land Use Element, available here, that includes more detailed planning area descriptions and accompanying policies and strategies on page 2-18.
- Explanation of how staff designated draft future land uses, available here.
- 2008 Future Land Use Map, which delineates Future Land Use planning areas
Draft Land Use Planning Areas
The following are brief descriptions of the draft proposed land use planning areas (here is the methodology for delineating these areas). Click here to read full planning area descriptions with accompanying draft policies and strategies starting on page 2-18:
Regional Centers are the Region’s core downtowns, plus their surrounding mixed-use neighborhoods, which accommodate high density commercial, institutional, and housing services. They are served by infrastructure – including but not limited to urban road networks, sidewalks, public water and wastewater systems – that support the highest densities in the Region.
- Town Centers are less densely populated settlements and smaller than regional centers, but similarly accommodate many of the same residential, civic, commercial and light industrial uses. Town centers have residential densities of 1 unit per acre or higher and are served by municipal infrastructure.
- Industrial consists of areas where existing and future commercial and industrial activities are encouraged, including new development and redevelopment.
- Mixed Use Commercial concentrated along US 302, VT 14, and Fischer Rd in Berlin, include areas of mixed-use development built in a spread out pattern. Typically dominated by commercial service industries, the intent of this land use category is to transform these areas into higher-density, mixed-use settlements through infill and redevelopment.
- Resort Centers are developments that are associated with large-scale recreational facilities, which in this region are concentrated around ski area facilities (note: Resort Centers are represented by points, not delineated boundaries which are determined locally).
Rural areas, which encompass the majority of the Region’s land area and are generally rural in character. These areas encompass much of the Region’s large forest blocks, sand/gravel/mineral deposits, and prime agricultural soils that, when in productive use, contribute to the working landscape and have significant economic value. Rural areas also include residential, small-scale commercial and industrial, and recreational uses.
- Hamlets are smaller than villages, and are typically concentrated residential settlements in rural areas that may or may not provide minor commercial and civic services (note: Hamlets are represented by points, not delineated boundaries which are determined locally).
- Resource areas are dominated by lands requiring special protection or consideration due to their uniqueness, irreplaceable or fragile nature, or important ecological function. These include protected lands; elevations above 2,500 ft (elevations above 1,700 ft in Waitsfield, as regulated); slopes of 25% or more; rare, threatened or endangered species and significant natural communities; wetlands, special flood hazard areas; and shoreline protection areas. As a subcategory of Resource lands, this plan recognizes critical resource areas as key sites that are particularly sensitive and should be given maximum protection.
Provide Input to the Draft Future Land Use map
CVRPC is seeking input from local planning commissions, selectboards and the public on the 2008 Future Land Use Map. It is also recommended that one view the draft Future Land Use descriptions, policies and strategies while one considers the planning areas delineated on the Future Land use map. They start on page 2-18 of the 2008 Amendments Land Use Element. There are two ways in which the map can be viewed and input provided:
- View the map at a regional scale
- View the map at a local scale with parcel boundaries and local roads visible (click on City/Town name to view): BARRE CITY ● BARRE TOWN ● BERLIN ● CABOT ● CALAIS ● DUXBURY ● EAST MONTPELIER ● FAYSTON ● MARSHFIELD ● MIDDLESEX ● MONTPELIER ● MORETOWN ● NORTHFIELD ● ORANGE ● PLAINFIELD ● ROXBURY ● WAITSFIELD ● WARREN ● WASHINGTON ● WATERBURY ● WILLIAMSTOWN ● WOODBURY ● WORCESTER (Maps are best viewed using Internet Explorer or Firefox)
CVRPC is currently collecting comments on these revisions to the 2008 Land Use Element. Input can be received by staff via email or phone (802-229-0389).