January 9, 6:00 pm:
January 10, 6:30 pm:
January 11, 4:30 pm:
January 15, 5:30 pm:
January 16, 5:30 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
Clif Bar Family Foundation
DEADLINE: Feb 1, 2018
DEADLINE: April 12,, 2018
New England Grass Roots Environmental Fund
DEADLINE: Rolling (Seed Grant)
USDA Rural Development - Community Facility Loans
DEADLINE: Ongoing (contact USDA office)
Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development
Vermont Community Foundation
DEADLINE: Feb 14, 2018
Windham Regional Commission
Upcoming Grants will
be a regular column in the
WRC Newsletter, for
for your projects
please contact Susan at
Floodplain Administrator Brown Bag Lunch Session Held
John Bennett and Alyssa Sabetto co-hosted an informational brown bag lunch session along with John Broker-Campbell, ANR Regional Floodplain Manager for Southern Vermont. Nine Floodplain Administrators or Review Board Members from around the region showed up for this open peer to peer discussion and Q&A session. Topics covered included duties of the Floodplain Administrator, permit reviews, inspections, flood insurance, difficulties of the role, and lessons learned. Experienced Floodplain Administrators, and others involved with on-the-ground floodplain surveying, contributed much to the conversation. Materials from the meeting are available from Alyssa. The common theme and take-away from the event was that no one is alone in the role of Floodplain Administrator. There are resources, advice and technical assistance available from WRC, ANR and FEMA. WRC hopes to hold more events like this in the future, so stay tuned!
| Regional Energy Plan Meetings and Hearings
The Windham Regional Commission's Energy, Natural Resources, and Project Review Committees have reviewed the updated draft of the Regional Energy Plan. The updated draft plan incorporates comments from the committees and commissioners as well as comments from the Department of Public Service. WRC has hosted two public meetings for comments on the draft. Two more meetings will be held in January on the 8
in Townshend and Jamaica respectively. The draft plan is available on the WRC website on the Act 174 page and Energy Planning (
). Written comments are also welcome.
WRC staff will be updating the draft based on public comments after these meetings to produce a hearing draft. Hearings will be held in March with a final vote of adoption by the full commission at the end of March.
State Paving Project Prioritization
The WRC usually supports VTrans by soliciting annual input from towns through our Transportation Committee on what state paving projects should be given priority within the region. This year VTrans won't be soliciting regional commission input because so little change has occurred in the past year. Regional commissions will resume the promotion of local input into this process as change warrants the revisiting of priorities.
Windham County Hosts State-Wide Conference on Wood Heat
Windham Wood Heat (WWH) co-hosted the State Wood Energy Team's Annual Wood Energy Users Conference in November. WWH is a program administered by the Windham Regional Commission that provides technical and financial assistance to schools, towns, and non-profits to install modern wood
fueled heating systems.
The event was held in Brattleboro with over 60 attendees. The day consisted of an informative morning session with presentations from the Biomass Energy Resource Center on the basics of modern wood heat, the Northern Forest Center on promoting wood heat,
Windham Wood Heat Initiative on lessons learned and opportunities, and a panel from state program leaders. Event attendees had the opportunity to learn about fixing or optimizing installed systems and to interact one-on-one with installers and venders. The afternoon was dedicated to a tour of wood heated facilities in the area. There were 5 facilities included in the tour, two of which were funded by the Windham Wood Heat Initiative. Green Street School, NECCA (both WWH funded) along with a Windham Windsor Housing Trust redevelopment, the Brattleboro Union High School, and Hermit Thrush Brewery were the facilities included in the tour. The event wrapped up with networking and beer tasting at the Hermit Thrush Brewery. The event was very well received with positive feedback on the engaging presentations alongside the hands-on aspect of seeing these systems in action. WWH was happy to co-host the event as it highlighted the activity happening with wood heat in Windham County.
Transportation Infrastructure Grants
The WRC has been active this fall working with towns in our region to apply for transportation infrastructure grants. The Better Roads and Transportation Alternatives grant opportunities are administered by the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans). Both opportunities place emphasis this year on improving transportation infrastructure while also improving storm water management and water quality in the region.
We know for sure that at least nine towns submitted sixteen applications. The WRC provides assistance to towns that would like our help. This year we provided targeted outreach to a
ll towns that have not yet applied for grant support to conduct a Road Erosion Inventory. This is a core requirement of the forthcoming Municipal Roads General Permit.
Towns in the region applied for Better Roads grants for projects including ditching, culverts, streambank stabilization, fish and wildlife access, and box culvert construction. Two towns submitted Transportation Alternatives grant applications; one for a new Salt Shed and the other for a box culvert. Contact Erica Roper for more information.
Guilford Considering Adoption of Updated Flood Hazard Bylaw
WRC is working with the Town of Guilford on updating their Flood Hazard Bylaw to incorporate River Corridors. Steve Lembke, Guilford's Floodplain Administrator, is shown above explaining the Bylaw update to the 73 members of the public that attended a public informational meeting on November 29th.
Enhanced Energy Element Technical Assistance Awarded to Three Region Towns
The Windham Regional Commission has received funding to grant technical assistance to six towns to help them discuss and draft an enhanced energy element for the town plans that would comport with Act 174. The towns that have asked for and that are receiving support are Grafton, Jamaica, Rockingham, Wardsboro, Weston, and Windham. This follows the pilot round which supported Londonderry, Vernon and Westminster. The enhanced elements will include analysis of current and projected use of energy; defined targets for conservation, efficiency, and generation; defined policies and pathways to attaining targets, and a mapping section which analyses potential energy generation.
Busy Time in the Brownfields Program
The Windham Regional Brownfields Reuse Initiative and the Brattleboro Brownfields Program presented a workshop on Environmental Due Diligence in Property Transactions on November 17th. The workshop was well attended with over 30 attendees from municipalities, design firms, developers, law firms and banks. The workshop covered:
- Federal environmental liability and exemptions for lenders and prospective property owners
- State liability programs for banks and prospective property owners
- The importance of a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment
- Tools to help pre-screen environmental concerns
- Resources to assist in the redevelopment of properties
Speakers included Joe Ferrari, US EPA Region 1, Patricia Coppolino, VT Department of Environmental Conservation, Susan McMahon, Windham Regional Commission and Sue Fillion, Town of Brattleboro. A link to their presentations can be found
On December 5th, Susan McMahon presented at the National Brownfields Conference in Pittsburgh, PA. The presentation, Unlikely Developer - Turning Stage Fright into Success, focused on the fact that in rural communities, brownfields redevelopment is often taken on by non-profit organizations. In particular, over the last couple of years, arts organizations have taken the lead in redevelopment in downtowns and villages in southeastern Vermont. Susan presented two recent brownfield redevelopment examples - New England Youth Theatre (Brattleboro) and Main Street Arts (Saxtons River).
NEYT Ribbon Cutting
Five Towns Win Municipal Planning Grants
Five Windham Region towns have been awarded 2018 Municipal Planning Grants from the Department of Housing and Community Development. Halifax (for town plan update), Newfane (town plan update), Rockingham (town plan update), Vernon (Village Center master planning), and Whitingham (zoning update) successfully secured Municipal Planning Grants.
WRC assists with local Watershed Collaborative Landowner Workshop
On October 28th the Saxtons River Watershed Collaborative (SRWC), which was started by a grant applied for and awarded to the Windham Regional Commission by the High Meadows Fund in 2015, hosted a landowner workshop in the Town of Grafton titled "Watershed Dynamics, the Role of Forests, and Conserving Private and Municipal Land." The SRWC is a community-led watershed group that addresses flood resilience, invasive species migration, and water quality. This is part of the WRC's ongoing efforts to promote comprehensive watershed scale planning. Twenty participants from across the region, and particularly the Saxtons River Watershed, eagerly filled the conference room of the Grafton Inn waiting to hear how to better manage their property. Presenters explored topics including the dynamics of watersheds and rivers, best management practices for forestry, using the Agency of Natural Resources Atlas to discover characteristics of land parcels, and developing conservation easements.
The WRC was represented by Billy Ernest, resident ECOAmeriCorps member and water quality planning associate, who presented on the Natural Resources Atlas.
After presentations, Marie Caduto (DEC Watershed Management) and County Forester Sam Schneski lead participants on a tour of a local landowner's property that is currently under conservation easement through the Vermont River Conservancy.
Windham County Renewable Energy Program Funding Round II
The Windham County Renewable Energy Program has accepted a second round of applications, with 8 applications totaling $779,420 in requested funds. The WRC Energy Committee met to discuss each application and forwarded recommendations to the Executive Board. The committee recommended partially funding many projects over fully funding a select few. After deliberation, the committee recommended funding for 6 of the 8 projects which would result in the installation of a diverse mix of renewable energy technologies. The Executive Board approved the recommendation at their meeting in December. Contact Marion Major for more information.
Want to Know More About What We Do & What We're Doing? Glad You Asked!
It's been a productive year at the Windham Regional Commission. Our assistance to towns as they implement the new state clean water initiative, especially new regulations that relate to town roads, is occupying at least part of the time of three staff and two interns. Developing a regional energy plan that is compliant with Act 174, and which will serve as the statutory basis for our determination of compliance of town plan energy elements, is approaching hearing draft stage. We've developed data and targets necessary for towns to develop Act 174-compliant town energy plan elements, and we've begun in-depth assistance to towns that want to develop those energy plans. We're managing two renewable energy grant programs: one assists schools, towns, and non-profit organizations install modern wood heating systems; the other supports renewable energy development. Our Brownfields program continues to assist with the redevelopment of properties throughout southern Vermont. But this is just a partial snapshot of what we've been working on. We are proud of our work and want you to know what we are doing.
In addition to our meetings and related agendas and minutes, we produce
monthly staff activity summaries
that are linked at the top of our home page just below the "This week at the WRC" heading. These are highlights, but they provide a detailed glimpse into our day to day and week to week work. We also produce
most months. These are available by email and through our website at
. If you'd like to be added to our mailing list, contact our Office Manager, Ashley Collins, at
. We produce an
, which is available on our About the WRC webpage
(and which also includes all kinds of other information about what we do and how we do it). And if you want our
annual summary of what we've done for your town lately
, click on your town's name on our Towns webpage (
), click on your town, and look for "WRC Town Support Highlights." We'll have these summaries updated for 2017 soon after the new year.
If you'd like to know more about regional planning commissions (RPCs) throughout the state, I invite you to explore the newly-updated website of the Vermont Association of Planning and Development Agencies at
. There you can find the annual reports, and a summary report, of all of the RPCs. We're proud of the service our Commissions provide to our towns and the role we play in the State by linking local, state and federal government in the absence of county government. As Vermont's Commissioner of Housing and Community Development, Katie Buckley (who is also a former WRC Commissioner for Guilford) remarked at a recent WRC Full Commission meeting, RPCs are where everything comes together.