(802) 674-9201     info@swcrpc.org 
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Happy New Year!
Around the Region
Congratulations West Windsor!
The Town of West Windsor finalized the ski resort land acquisition on December 15, 2015.  According to the Town website,  after two years of hard work by many people representing many organizations, the Town finally owns 460 acres of the former Ascutney Ski Area as well as the day skier parking lot, the maintenance garage parcel, and Hotel Road.  
Renewed Downtown Designation for Windsor 
On November 23, 2015, the Vermont Downtown Board voted to renew the Windsor Downtown District  designation .  The purpose of the Downtown Program is to support local downtown revitalization efforts.  A number of benefits are associated with Downtown Designation, such as loans or grants through the Downtown Transportation Funds, and tax credits for improvements to eligible buildings.  See this website for more information.
Brownfields
SWCRPC Awarded Additional Brownfields Fund
The Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission was recently awarded $250,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency to supplement its Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund.  The funds will be used to assist towns, property owners, or prospective purchasers of properties contaminated or suspected of being contaminated by hazardous waste. For more information, contact Dan Potter or call him at (802) 674-9201.
Municipal Planning Grants
Municipal Planning Grant Award
There was a big demand for Municipal Planning Grants (MPGs) this year.  MPGs provide funding from the Department of Housing and Community Development to support a variety of local planning activities.  There were 72 municipalities requesting over $770,000 this year.  Four towns from this region applied for more than $33,000.  This round, over $478,000 was awarded to 45 municipalities.  Projects awarded funding in this region include:
  • Reading Zoning and Subdivision Bylaw Updates: The Town of Reading will use funds to update their zoning bylaws and map to address several items identified in their 2015 town plan including flood hazards and wildlife travel corridors.  Total project cost is $8,280.
     
  • Weathersfield Zoning Bylaw Updates: Weathersfield will update their zoning bylaws to conform with new policies in the town plan, focusing on economic development and flood resiliency. Grant funds will also be used to develop a website to provide easy public access to town plan information and gather feedback on proposed changes.  Total project cost is $9,410.
     
  • West Windsor Unified Bylaws: West Windsor will combine its existing land use bylaws into a single unified development bylaw. This effort will include a variety of updates related to the new town plan including flood resilience, building densities, affordable housing, renewable energy, wildlife habitat, conservation, and development on steep slopes.  Total project cost is $9,360.
Contact Jason Rasmussen for more information.
Natural Resources
Vermont Clean Water Act
Through an $18,500 grant provided from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) the SWCRPC has launched an effort focused on improving water quality and assisting municipalities in meeting the requirements of the Vermont Clean Water Act (VCWA).   SWCRPC will work with municipal staff and boards to provide information about the requirements for municipalities triggered by the VCWA and also work with them on options such as stronger municipal protections against flood hazards and river corridor erosion, stormwater master planning, and other town plan or zoning changes to improve water quality. SWCRPC staff will update fluvial erosion hazard/river corridor maps for the towns and assist them with compiling existing information to use in developing implementation plans under the municipal roads stormwater general permit.  As part of DEC's Tactical Basin Planning program, the SWCRPC will work closely with DEC staff to facilitate municipal participation in the development of the update to the Black River Basin Plan.  Please contact Dan Potter , with any questions (802) 674-9201.
604(b) Water Quality Grant  Awarded
SWCRPC has received a $3,000 grant from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation through Section 604b of the Clean Water Act to partner with VT Agency of Natural Resources Watershed Coordinator Marie Levesque-Caduto to develop 2-3 shovel ready projects in the Mill Brook Watershed.  The final project deliverables will be completed in spring of 2016.  Please contact Dan Potter with any questions or call 674-9201.
Transportation News
New Rider Survey for The Current Bus Routes in Springfield, Ludlow, Bellows Falls, Cavendish, and Chester
In early 2016, Southeast Vermont Transit will be evaluating some of "The Current" bus routes, mainly in the Springfield, Bellows Falls, and Ludlow areas.  Finding out why existing riders use the buses as well as why potential riders currently do not is very important to this project.  It is hoped that through this input we will identify small improvements to existing routes so they can increase ridership and decrease cost.  Your input is important!  A survey will be available for completion between 1/4/2016 and 1/24/2016.  For more information about the project go to our site  or contact Katharine .  For more information on existing bus routes go this site.
Expanded Funding and Eligibility for Better Backroads Grant Program
For the last sixteen years, the Vermont Better Backroads Program has been a popular funding source for towns to address road erosion problems.  It has funded a variety of projects such as slope stabilization, stone-lining ditches, and culvert upgrades.  After the Legislature passed Act 64, the Vermont Clean Water Initiative, it is one of the key financial aid programs available to help towns to comply with the related water quality requirements for town highways.  Click  here  for more information on the Vermont Clean Water Initiative.
 
On December 15, 2015, VTrans announced that next year they anticipate funding levels that will allow an increase in maximum funding levels and expansion of the types of projects under the Better Backroads Program.  Summarized below are the anticipated project types and funding levels:
  • Category A - road erosion and capital budget planning - maximum $10,000 project (i.e. $8,000 award with a $2,000 local match)
  • Category B - correction of a road related erosion problem/stormwater mitigation - maximum $25,000 project (i.e. $20,000 award with a $5,000 local match)
  • Category C - correction of a stream bank or slope-related problem - maximum $50,000 project (i.e. $40,000 award with a $10,000 local match)
  • Category D - structure/culvert upgrades - maximum $50,000 project (i.e. $40,000 award with a $10,000 local match) 
The next Better Backroads funding opportunity is expected to be announced this spring.  For more information on this program, click  here .
New Federal Transportation Bill Passed
The new federal transportation bill, known as the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, will bring some changes to our transportation programs - both on a state and town level.  The federal Act provides funding for a significant amount of the transportation work in Vermont at both State and Town level including planning, bridge construction, road paving, highway safety improvements.  Details about exactly how things will be changing will take several months to work through.  Quick summaries about this new Act are available here.
Funding Opportunities - Grants & Loans
Working Lands Enterprise Board Announces $550,000 in Available Grant Funds
The Working Lands Enterprise Board (WLEB) recently announced the opening of this year's grant cycle and the availability of approximately $550,000 in grant funds for the 2016 program year.  These grants will fund forestry and agriculture projects that enhance Vermont's communities, economy, and culture.  To view the applicant guide click here.

Strong Communities, Better Connections
The program supports implementation-focused municipal planning initiatives that coordinate land use decisions and transportation investments advance the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Livability Principles; and support statewide planning and transportation objectives and goals.   Grant applications are due January 15, 2016.  Check this site f or more details.

Downtown Transportation Fund Program
Funds are available for transportation-related capital improvements in Vermont's Designated Downtowns. Past projects include streetscape improvements, bicycle & pedestrian paths, rail or bus facilities, utility relocation, street lighting, way-finding signage and other transportation related projects.   Application deadline is March 7, 2016.   For more details go here.

Vermont Community Development Grants
The Vermont Community Development Program (VCDP) assists communities on a competitive basis by providing financial and technical assistance to identify and address local needs in the areas of housing, economic development, public facilities, public services, and handicapped accessibility modifications.
For more details go here.

USDA Rural Development
A number of funding opportunities are available through the USDA Rural Development office, such as rural business development grants, community facilities, water, and waste disposal loan and grant programs.   For more details visit this site.  

Vermont Wood Manufacturers Association (VWMA)
There is no formal application process as projects are considered on a first-come, first-served basis.  Contact Steve Rohde (603) 229-0679 or e-mail  srohde@northernforest.org .

The Vermont Farm Fund
More info at this site.
Highlights from the Holiday Dinner
Meet the Owner's of The Free Range 
On December 3rd, The Commissioners and Staff gathered for a wonderful meal hosted by The Free Range in Chester, VT. Each year the RPC likes to showcase our local talent within the region and we were treated to fabulous food, intimate atmosphere, attentive and warm staff. Thank you to the Paterno's and the staff of The Free Range for a lovely evening!
SW/WC Solid Waste District
Battery Recycling Program
In response to a new Vermont law, Call2Recycle, a non-profit organization created by the manufacturers, will work with solid waste districts and retail locations throughout the state to collect and recycle alkaline batteries. Call2Recycle has been doing this with rechargeable batteries for years but the alkaline battery initiative will be brand new in January 2016. In fact, Vermont is the first-in-the-nation to have a manufacturer-sponsored recycling program for alkalines, which make up 80% of the battery market. And the program will be free to residents.
For More Details visit here.
Stay Connected
Are you on Front Porch Forum?
The towns of Cavendish, Reading, Weathersfield, West Windsor, and Windsor have all joined. The mission of Front Porch Forum is to help neighbors connect and build community. It does that by hosting regional networks of online neighborhood forums. Common sense and a growing body of research tell us that well-connected neighborhoods are friendlier places to live, with less crime, healthier residents, higher property values, and better service from local government and public utilities.
S outhern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission 
PO Box 320
38 Ascutney Park Road
Ascutney, VT 05030
Telephone: 802-674-9201
Fax: 802-674-5711
General Email: info@swcrpc.org