WRC NEWSLETTER                                                      JUNE 2018
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WRC Commissioners
WRC CALENDAR
July 5, 6:00 pm:

July 9, 4:30 pm:

July 10, 6:00 pm:

July 11, 6:00 pm:

July 12, 5:30 pm:
July 16, 5:30 pm:
 
July 17, 5:30 pm:
 
July 26, 5:00 pm:
 

**All Committee Meetings take place in the WRC Conference Room unless otherwise noted.
 
**All meetings are subject to change, please check the website for updates.
UPCOMING GRANT OPPORTUNITIES

National Endowment for the Arts
Art Works
DEADLINE   July 12, 2018
DEADLINE:  August 9 , 2018

New England Grass Roots Environmental Fund
Seed Grant
DEADLINE:  Rolling
Grown Grant
DEADLINE: Sept 15, 2018
For more information click here.
USDA Rural Development - Community Facility Loans 
& Grants
DEADLINE:  Ongoing (contact USDA office)
For more information click here.
 
Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development
DEADLINE:  Rolling
Downtown and Village Center Tax credits 
DEADLINE:  July 2, 2018
DEADLINE:  October 1, 2018
Vermont Community Foundation
Special & Urgent Needs
DEADLINE:  Rolling
Spark!  Connecting Community
DEADLINE:  July 26 , 2018
Brattleboro: Crosby-Gannett Fund
DEADLINE:  Oct 11 , 2018
Brattleboro:  Dunham-Mason Fund
DEADLINE:  Oct 11 , 2018

Windham Foundation
DEADLINE: Aug 15, 2018
For more information . click here
Windham Regional Commission
DEADLINE:  Rolling 
DEADLINE:  Rolling 

Upcoming Grants will  be a regular column in the  WRC Newsletter, for  a complete 
list please  click here

For additional  information about  grant possibilities  for your projects  please contact Susan at 
Municipal Highway and Stormwater Mitigation Program Grant Applications due 7/13

VTrans announced its second year of the Municipal Highway Stormwater Mitigation grant program.  There are many eligible transportation projects including planning studies, salt/ sand sheds, bank stabilization, culvert replacement, vactor trucks/ high efficiency sweepers and more. Upsizing culverts to box culverts to achieve bank-full width is eligible for this grant.

Workshops: June 26th and 27th

Application deadline: July 13, 2018
More info can be found here.  

For assistance or more information contact Erica.
WRC Presents Basics of Town Planning Training

On June 21 the WRC conducted a regional training session on the Basics of Town Planning. There were over a dozen interested participants representing Planning Commissions and a Selectboard from 10 towns, as well as enthusiastic attendees from two substance abuse education and prevention organizations. For more information on the topic or a copy of the handout, contact John Bennett at (802) 257-4547 ext. 110.
WCREP Projects Featured at
Tiny House Fest!

WRC's successful Windham County Renewable Energy Program was featured at the Tiny House Fest on Saturday June 23rd. Three of the program's installations were featured in the panel discussion "Energizing Windham County: a glimpse at local renewable energy installations." The panel introduced the featured installations and discussed the impacts the installations have made in our local and broader community. More information is available here.
Notice of Intent (NOI) and Related Fees Announced for Municipal Road General Permit

In January 2018, the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued the Municipal Roads General Permit (MRGP) for stormwater discharges from municipal roads. This permit requires that certain municipal roads achieve state standards to reduce erosion and sediment runoff into state waters. All municipalities in Vermont are required under state law, to apply for coverage under the MRGP, and comply with the permit requirements. Unorganized towns are exempt from the MRGP.

At this time the DEC has released Notice of Intent (NOI) municipalities must submit the completed form with the Administrative Processing fee of $240 before July 31, 2018.
The NOI form can be accessed at the following link. Please complete the form online, print and sign it, and submit it to DEC at the address above.

Information about further MRGP deadlines and fees can be found below:
  • An application review fee of $400 is due by June 1, 2019. In order for municipalities to budget for permit fees, the Legislature allowed for some fees, including the application review fee, to be paid at the end of the fiscal year.
  • The annual operating fee will be billed at the time the municipality is issued a permit authorization from DEC and will be due by June 1, 2019.
The annual operating fee is prorated for each municipality based on population and road mileage. DEC will email MRGP authorizations to the email address provided on the NOI form and to the Town Clerk and mail annual operating fee notices to the town address.
 
Please contact Jim Ryan at (802) 490-6140 or jim.ryan@vermont.gov with any questions related to the MRGP, including assistance with the application and permit requirements.
WRC STAFF
Executive Director

Associate Director

Office Manager

Finance Manager

Senior Planner

Planner

Planner

Senior Planner

Transportation Planner

Planner
WRC Receives Determination of Energy Compliance from the State of Vermont!

The WRC is pleased to announce the Regional Energy Plan has received a certificate of energy compliance from the Commissioner of Public Service. The plan itself analyzes the Region's current and future energy needs and sets targets for consumption, efficiency, conservation, and fuel switching as well as new generation. It also integrates energy planning with land use planning. This certificate from the state enables the WRC to review town enhanced energy plans for the town's determination of energy compliance. With an affirmative determination, the Region and the towns will receive substantial deference during energy generation permitting processes. We'd once again like to thank everyone who contributed to the plan.
Lisa Donnelly and Andrew Starace Join WRC Staff This Summer

Armed with a digital level and a tablet, and sporting orange safety vests, two new WRC staff will be walking the back roads this summer conducting road erosion inventories.  Lisa Donnelly and Andrew Starace are WRC's GIS/Transporatation Technicians for 2018. Besides road erosion inventories, they'll be doing a host of other field work including helping with traffic counts and bike/ped counts, and doing some GIS tasks in the office as well.
Lisa is a recent Keene State College Geography graduate and lives in West Brattleboro.  She knows downtown Brattleboro well, having worked for a half dozen years as a concierge at the Latchis Hotel, and she looks forward to exploring more of the Windham Region.  Lisa also has a good handle on planning and GIS from her internship at Southwest Region Planning Commission in Keene; we look forward to her sharing her knowledge with us.
Andrew is currently a Geology major at Keene State College and hails from a small town just outside Saratoga Springs, NY.  His geology background (and maybe his love of rock climbing) will come in handy when doing erosion inventories.  Andrew previously worked summers as a white water rafting guide and in sales and customer service at NY's largest paddle sports dealer.  He is excited to be spending time in the field this summer.
West Dummerston and Westminster West Selected for the
"Village Sanitation Pilot Study"
 
On May 25th , community representatives from both West Dummerston and Westminster West submitted, on behalf of participating homeowners in each of their respective neighborhoods, a Letter of Interest to the Windham Regional Commission and the Rich Earth Institute for the Village Sanitation Pilot Study (VSPS). The VSPS is an innovative partnership project that provides a feasibility study to a community that is challenged by septic or wastewater limitations in our historic community centers. The feasibility study will provide a pathway for innovative wastewater solutions which can help address aging septic systems that may impact ground and/or surface water quality, human health, and the financial ability of home and business owners to properly maintain and update these on-site systems.

While the original intent of this program was to work with only one community, the WRC and Rich Earth received two very strong Letters of Interest that made this decision to choose either Westminster West or West Dummerston difficult. Both recruited an impressive number of interested and participating homeowners, sought approval from their respective Planning Commission and Selectboard, and had provided a compelling narrative for why their community would be a good candidate to receive this technical assistance.

So, Windham Regional and the Rich Earth Institute are seeking ways to garner grant funds to support their staff in working with both communities. Several grant applications have already been submitted, and the partners expect to have a clearer picture of their own working capacity by the end of the summer, 2018.

Although working with both neighborhoods is ideal for the VSPS (and, may be a stronger case study overall), the West Dummerston neighborhood group will receive priority and a secured place in the study. This is because there is a clear and stated need for this kind of planning support in the 2018 Dummerston Town Plan, which states that it will, "Support collaborative wastewater planning efforts," and "Explore funding for a wastewater capacity study in West Dummerston Village."  Neighbors in Westminster West  have also demonstrated a strong interest in this program, and a clear ability to mobilize homeowners and organize around this community-building effort. They were able to include a number of civic buildings into their list of participating landowners, and have the support of the Living Earth Action Coalition.

The WRC is excited to take the lead in the state and partner with local expertise in these systems to take on challenges facing our communities. Being a part of the VSPS would bring multiple benefits to those who support this work. The Towns will receive village center planning related to wastewater systems, an understanding of wastewater management issues confronting home and business owners, and first steps towards the development of a larger wastewater feasibility study. Participating neighbors will receive free consultation regarding viable alternatives to conventional septic systems and human waste management, access to professional and scientific resources related to wastewater management, and an ability to participate in scientific research about our wastewater systems on a neighborhood scale.

For more information about the Village Sanitation Pilot Study, contact staff Planner Emily Davis at edavis@windhamregional.org .
Windham Region Submits Two Bicycle and Pedestrian Grant Applications

The WRC supported Weston and Putney in their preparation of Bi cycle and Pedestrian grant applications for the Vermont Department of Transportation's (VTrans) 2018 Bike Pedestrian Grant Program. The intent of the program is to improve access and safety for bicyclists and/or pedestrians through the planning, design and construction of infrastructure projects. 

The Town of Weston applied for the Bike Ped Scoping grant to explore infrastructure solutions to pedestrian and bicyclist safety in the Weston Village Center. The project will study pedestrian/bicyclist connections along VT Rte. 100 from one end of the town to the other (the intersection of Rte. 100 and Chester Mountain Road at the north end of town to the intersection of Mill Lane and Rte. 100 at the south). If funded, the scoping study will address findings from a safety audit performed by VTrans in 2017.

The Town of Putney applied for additional funding to complete phase three of an ambitious three phase village sidewalk project initiated in 2008. Phase three is the final phase of the sidewalk construction program, and will complete the pedestrian connection from the village core to Landmark College along US Route 5 and Vinegar Lane. This segment of sidewalk, with steep slopes, guardrail, houses close to the road, and state highway traffic volumes, is the most complex segment, yet the most critical missing link in the Putney Village Sidewalk Network.

For more information contact  Erica.
LEPC-6 Transition
 
You may have heard that the Local Emergency Planning Commission 6 (LEPC-6) is in transition. That is true, and here is some information about what's new.
 
The June 19th  LEPC-6 meeting was the last meeting organized with WRC involvement.  For a number of reasons, WRC felt it was the right time to transition away from LEPC-6 involvement and towards creating our own method of involving the public and our emergency management partners going forward. June 30th  is the last day that WRC will serve in the Secretary and Treasurer roles.  Additionally, Paul Fraser is stepping down as Chair on June 30th .  We want to thank him for his dedicated, enthusiastic and entertaining service throughout the last three and a half years. The LEPC-6 will move forward starting on July 1 under the leadership of the current Vice Chair and soon-to-be Chair, Erik Rosenbauer.  Erik has become familiar with the LEPC-6 during his committed involvement over the last several years, and he is a member of the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC). We will support him and his efforts into the foreseeable future as he gets the LEPC-6 set up in his vision.
 
The LEPC-6 has always been an independent organization and will continue to be.  What this means for current members is that Erik will now organize and lead the bi-monthly meetings.   Tier II filings and all LEPC-6 related emails should go to the new email account: lepc6vt@gmail.com .  There will also soon be a new LEPC-6 website.
 
A benefit of this transition is that the WRC will be able to provide greater focus on the needs of our town emergency management directors and other local emergency planners.  The LEPC-6 had been a forum through which the region's emergency managers would convene, but its actual statutory focus is limited to Tier II hazardous materials.  WRC will begin having quarterly Emergency Planning related meetings, forums, and roundtables beginning this fall.  Please stay tuned for more about this coming soon!  We will be reaching out to local emergency responders, planners and interested parties to inform us how best to work with and learn from one another, what the priority issues are, and what role the WRC can best serve in supporting emergency management for the Windham Region. We're not going anywhere-we're just shifting! We hope you will stay tuned and get involved!
WRC Facilitates Open Meeting Law Training

On June 27 the WRC facilitated a regional training session on the Open Meeting Law. Attorney Jim Barlow, who spent nearly a decade with the VLCT Municipal Assistance Center, gave a very informative presentation on the details of the law and best practices for complying with it. There were participants representing numerous perspectives, including Town Clerk, Selectboard, Planning Commission, and Zoning Board of Adjustment, and towns' WRC representatives, from a half dozen towns. For more information on the topic or copies of the handouts, contact  John Bennett at (802) 257-4547 ext. 110.
Hinsdale-Brattleboro Existing Bridge Sub-Committee Convened a Second Meeting at the Brooks Memorial Library in Brattleboro
The Hinsdale-Brattleboro Existing Bridge Sub-Committee was formed by request of the Hinsdale-Brattleboro Bridge Project Advisory Committee with the task of identifying a vision for the reuse of the existing Hinsdale Bridges. Sub-committee members include town officials, public safety officers, public works officials, regional economic development leaders, trail groups, public health officials, and regional historic experts from Brattleboro and Hinsdale. The sub-committee is supported by staff members from the WRC in Vermont, and the Southwest Region Planning Commission in New Hampshire, as well as the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NHDOT) and the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans).

At the first meeting the sub-committee voted to adopt a purpose, membership structure, and proposed process. The purpose of the Existing Bridges Subcommittee as adopted "is to develop a vision for the Charles Dana and Anna Hunt Marsh Bridges and Hinsdale Island, including the envisioned activities and uses of the bridges and island, physical changes, management and maintenance considerations, and expected impacts on economic development, tourism, transportation/access, and recreational opportunities."

At the second sub-committee meeting the committee decided to pursue a scenario planning approach to arrive at a recommended vision. Scenario planning refers to the analysis and evaluation of different alternative futures. Alternative futures can be assessed by multiple criteria. For example, the sub-committee will be able to explore how different investment options and constraints might impact alternate plans for the bridges. Over the summer, the sub-committee will begin brainstorming alternative scenarios as well as the information that will need to be collected to evaluate those scenarios. An evaluation of scenarios will be presented to the public for their feedback. The sub-committee visioning process is planned as an approximately two-year process and will enable the committee to develop a publicly supported and feasible alternative to recommend to the Hinsdale-Brattleboro Bridge Project Advisory Committee.

All subcommittee meetings are noticed and open to the public. The sub-committee anticipates two formal public outreach meetings as part of the scenario planning process.
FROM THE DIRECTOR
  

What's the big idea?


In my last article I explained that we are beginning the update of the Windham Regional Plan. We'd like to hear from you about what ideas - big and small - the Commission should consider as it plans for the region's future. We'd also like to hear ideas about engaging with a broader cross-section of those who live and work within the region. We particularly want to engage with youth. What is their vision for life and living in the Windham Region in 2040? What would it take for that vision to be realized?

Here are some ideas I'm pondering.
 
What would be the influence of commuter rail service to the region within 10 years? Sound far-fetched? Our counterpart just to our south, the Franklin Regional Council of Governments, is advocating for commuter service to Greenfield, and the Massachusetts Governor just announced a three year pilot of two additional round-trips to Greenfield from Springfield, Massachusetts beginning next year.
 
How do we plan for, and build, housing to meet the needs of current and future residents? How do we provide diverse housing options to allow aging residents and families to down size, and growing families to up size? How do we tackle the issues of affordability, cost of construction, livability of existing housing stock, proximity to jobs and services, and return on owner investment?
 
How should we plan for storms of the future, especially rain events? Throughout the nation and the world extreme precipitation events are becoming more frequent. We have traditionally planned around "100-year" flood events. How should we think about the prospect of larger and more frequent floods, and the relationship between our rivers and streams and our settlement patterns?
 
How do we best implement the new regional energy plan? What partnerships can we form at the regional level to move us forward towards energy conservation, switching to renewable fuel sources, development of renewable energy generation, and spending our fuel dollars locally rather than sending them far beyond our region?
 
How do we sustain our villages? How do we help these settlements that were largely built in the early 1800s adapt to demands of modern life, including drinking water and wastewater requirements? How do we ensure that these cultural and economic centers of southeastern Vermont life remain viable and vibrant?
 
What's on your mind? What are your ideas? What questions should we be asking? We'd like to know.
Windham Regional Commission 
139 Main Street, Suite 505
Brattleboro, VT 05301
Phone: (802) 257-4547
Fax: (802) 254-6383