September, 2017


Regional Plan Approved
by Public Service Department
 
 
On September 19 th , 2017, the Northwest Regional Plan received a "determination of energy planning compliance" from the Vermont Department of Public Service. This approval from the Department of Public Service is the culmination of an over two-year planning effort by Northwest Regional Planning Commission (NRPC) to develop a Regional Energy Plan and amend the Northwest Regional Plan. NRPC is only the second regional planning commission in Vermont to achieve this type of approval from the Department of Public Service.
 
NRPC Board of Commissioners Chair Bob Buermann states that the NRPC's effort "sets the standard for how local citizen planning is applied to sustainable energy planning" in Vermont. In the decision from the Department of Public Service, Commissioner June Tierney noted as well that "The NRPC conducted a robust process that provided public notice of the planning activities..." Buermann also praised the efforts of the NRPC Regional Energy Committee for their diligent work on the project for the last several years.
 
While focusing on how Northwest Vermont will achieve ambitious regional and state renewable energy goals, the Regional Plan also addresses the NRPC's approach to renewable energy facility siting. Through a combination of identifying preferred locations for renewable energy facilities and natural resources to be protected, NRPC has provided developers, municipalities, and the Public Utilities Commission (PUC, formerly the Public Service Board) with a clearer sense of how it believes renewable energy facilities should be sited in the region.
 
Receiving "determination" from the Department of Public Service is an important accomplishment for NRPC because it enables the Regional Plan to have a greater weight in proceedings before the Vermont Public Utilities Commission. "The opportunity to have greater local control over siting is something that is important to our Regional Commissioners and our communities" states Executive Director Catherine Dimitruk. "Our staff and Commissioners deserve a lot of credit for navigating the requirements of Act 174, the energy bill passed in 2016, and ensuring that the region will be heard in future cases before the PUC."
 
NRPC's efforts will now turn towards helping municipalities in the region achieve the same standard. This will involve working with municipalities to amend their municipal plans to meet the newly created standards for "enhanced" energy planning. Efforts have already begun in cooperation with the Planning Commissions in Highgate, Enosburgh, Richford and Fairfax.
 
The Northwest Regional Plan may be found here: http://www.nrpcvt.com/RegionalPlan.html. 
  
 
 

 
A look at the strides Wastewater Treatment  
Facilities are taking for Clean Water 
 
Clean Water Advisory Committee members
with St. Albans City staff Alan Robtoy and
Brian Willett, toured the St. Albans
Wastewater Treatment Facility on Sept. 28.  
 
   
On September 28th the Clean Water Advisory Committee members toured the St. Albans Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF). Members were interested in hearing what steps the facility was taking to address the requirements under the 2016 Lake Champlain TMDL and impact stormwater has on the capacity of the plant.
 
Chip Sawyer, the Director of Planning and Development and Alan Robtoy, Director of Public Works, described the challenges the City faces with areas of the system that collect stormwater and connect it to the sewer system. This is called a CSO or combined sewer overflow.
 
In the city approximately 25 percent of the public stormwater system is connected to the sewage system, sending stormwater to the WWTF. This becomes a problem when a large rainstorm hits sending too much water into the system all at once. The WWTF can exceed capacity and then goes into bypass mode. In bypass mode, effluent is treated with chlorine to kill bacteria, including e coli, and then dechlorinated before being discharged. The bypass mode does not treat effluent for phosphorous or other contaminants before it flows out and into Stevens Brook.
 
In 2016 the City removed 10 catch basins on Fairfield Street from the sewer system and replaced them with new catch basins and stormwater line. Improvements like this one help to reduce the flow received by the WWTF and the risk of a combined sewer overflow. However this creates a new challenge for the City to then identify how they will treat the stormwater before it is discharged into Stevens Brook.
 
 
 
Brian Willett describes the use of Trickling
Filters as a stage it the secondary treatment
of effluent. This stage is an aerobic treatment
system that utilizes microorganisms attached
to a medium (plastic discs) to remove organic
matter from wastewater. 
Brian Willet, the Wastewater Chief Officer, gave a tour of the facility and discussed the upgrades the City will be taking on in 2018. The City will be investing $18 million in upgrades that will largely focus on replacing mechanical components from the 1980s; a USDA's Water & Waste Disposal Loan & Grant Program will cover $4 million of the cost.
 
Two million dollars will be spent to install cloth filters for additional phosphorus treatment and removal during the secondary treatment of the effluent. The City is conducting this improvement to address the requirements from the 2016 Lake Champlain TMDL that specifies allowable phosphorus loads, or waste load allocations (WLA), expressed as metric tons per year (mt/yr), for each of the 59 wastewater treatment facility (WWTF) that discharge to the lake's watershed. The TMDL, or Total Maximum Daily Load, places a cap on the maximum amount of phosphorus from point and non-point sources that is allowed to flow into the lake while still meeting Vermont's water quality standards.





Municipal Roads General Permit
Draft Available
Comments due October 27th
 
This 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 systems. The plan will include bringing road drainage systems up to basic maintenance standards, and additional corrective measures to reduce erosion as necessary to meet a TMDL or other water quality restoration effort. The permit is required by Act 64, the Vermont Clean Water Act, and the Lake Champlain Phase I TMDL.
 
The draft permit includes standards for:
Gravel and Paved Roads with Ditches
Rill or Gully Erosion
Paved Roads with Catch Basins
Connected Class 4 Roads
 
Please contact Bethany at NRPC by email or at 524-5958 if you have questions or concerns. Formal comments on the draft MRGP should be emailed to Jim Ryan or mailed to: Jim Ryan DEC Stormwater Program 1 National Life Drive, Main 2 Montpelier, VT 05620-3522.
 
Public information meetings will be held on the following dates, times, and locations:
  • Date: Tuesday, October 10, 2017, Time: 6:00-8:00, Location: Central Vermont RPC office, 29 Main Street Suite 4 Montpelier
  • Date: Wednesday, October 11, 2017, Time: 2:00-4:00, Location: Johnson Town Offices, 293 Lower Main Street (Route 15) Johnson
  • Date: Monday, October 16, 2017, Time: 2:00-4:00, Location: Martin Memorial Building, Ascutney
  • Date: Tuesday, October 17, 2017, Time: 2:00-4:00, Location: Brandon Town Hall, 1 Conant Square, Brandon
  • Date: Wednesday, October 18, 2017, Time: 2:00-4:00, Location: Northern Vermont Development Association, 36 Eastern Ave., St. Johnsbury
 
A copy of the MRGP and related documents may be downloaded from here .
 
 
 


 
VLCT Fall Planning & Zoning Forum
 
VLCT will be holding workshop on November 1, 2017 that offers municipal planning and zoning officials a dynamic mix of legal information, practical solutions, and policy discussions, as well as many opportunities to ask questions and share experiences. Zoning administrators, planning commissioners, DRB/ZBA members, town managers and administrators, municipal planners, and regional planning commission staff are all encouraged to attend. For a full agenda and information registration click here. 

 


Municipal Planning - News and Notes
 
  • Congratulations to the Swanton for being granted a renewal of its village designation by the VT Agency of Commerce and Community Development. The renewal includes expansion of the village designation area to include additional properties in two areas: the "northern gateway" of the village at the corners of River Street and Depot Street and near the intersection of Canada Street and York Street.
  • The Planning Commissions in Highgate and Richford have warned public hearings for amendments to their municipal plans. Each amendment would include a municipal enhanced energy plan as enabled by Act 174 of 2016. Highgate and Richford are the first two municipalities in the region to consider adoption a municipal enhanced energy plan.
  • The Fairfax Planning Commission continued to work on a municipal plan update. Recent accomplishments for the project include completing a community survey that received 258 responses.
  • This fall the Town and Village of Alburgh will begin the adoption process for the community's first Land Use and Development Regulation.
  • Congratulations to the Town of Franklin and St. Albans City for having their municipal plans regionally approved at NRPC's September Board of Commissioners meeting. The Board of Commissioners also confirmed the planning process of both municipalities at their meeting.
   



 
2018 Transportation Alternatives Grant
 
VTrans is offering this funding opportunity as part of its commitment to improve the quality of state waters and provide funding to municipalities to assist in their efforts. Applications are due November 22. Online applicant briefings will be held October 5th and 10th.
 
Eligible projects require a 20% match and include:
Planning Studies (stormwater inventories, flow restoration plans, phosphorus control planning)        · Salt/Sand Sheds · Vactor Trucks/High Efficiency Sweepers · Bank Stabilization · Culvert Replacement/ Re-sizing · Stream Bank Stabilization · Detention Ponds · Check Dams · Swirl Separators · Permeable Pavers · Infiltration Basins · Gravel Wetlands · Subsurface Detention Systems · Bio Filters · Bio Retention Systems
 
For assistance with project development or grant applications contact Bethany or Amanda at NRPC. For more information visit the website. 
 



VT Agency of Agriculture,  
Food & Markets Grant Programs                               
  1. Working Lands Enterprise Initiative $750,000 for agriculture and forest sector businesses. Applications open in October for Business Investments and Service Provider Investments. Informational videos will be online Oct 3rd.  
  2. Trade Show Assistance Grants are for Vermont producers to connect with new markets and buyers. Applications open Nov 1st.   
  3. Farm-to-School Grants will be available for schools to invest in a program to improve nutrition and connect food producers to local schools. A webinar on Oct 11th will cover the application information.  
  4. Vermont Produce Safety Improvement Grant (first round) These grants will be for Vermont farms with average annual produce sales of greater than $25,000, for produce safety improvements on farms growing "covered produce." The application period will open in November.
  More information on these grant programs, including application instructions can be found here.

   
 

Northwest Regional Planning Commission
Address: 75 Fairfield Street, St. Albans, VT 05478
Phone: 802.524.5958      Fax: 802.527.2948     Website: www.nrpcvt.com