From the Director, Spring 2018 - Beginning the Update of the Windham Regional Plan

Chris CampanyAn update of the Windham Regional Plan is getting underway. We invite everyone to read the current regional plan, the Windham Regional Transportation Plan, and even the just-adopted Regional Energy Plan to let us know what you feel could be improved. Are the underlying assumptions about existing and future conditions valid? Are the goals and objectives for the future of the region the right ones? Do the current policies get us to where we want to be? Have those policies been effective? What specific actions can the Commission take to move the region forward per the direction of the plan? The Committees of the WRC will be discussing these questions and more over the coming 6 months. Everyone's input is welcome!

Plans are meant to be evaluated and updated on a regular basis. While the state has extended the required update period from 5 to 8 years for both town and regional plans, enough has happened and is happening to prompt us to get the review and update process underway now. We've had a major shift in the economy of part of the region with the closure of Vermont Yankee. We've ramped up collaboration with our counterparts in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, recognizing we have shared socioeconomic interests, especially at the household level. New laws are in place including those relating to clean water, forest block continuity, river corridors, and regional and town energy planning. The evolution of energy planning and rules within Vermont and the New England region has created a dynamic renewable energy development situation. What was the Windham Regional Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) is being expanded to include all of the Bennington Region to create a Southern Vermont CEDS. We've had more experience with damaging extreme precipitation and wind events. Rates of poverty and hunger are on the increase. Effects of the opioid epidemic are being felt throughout the region. We've seen new investment in ski resorts. Rail service to Greenfield, Massachusetts is set to expand by an additional 4 trips per day, leading to the potential for increased service into Vermont. Might this make commuter rail service to the region a possibility within the next decade? Case law has further defined the standing and application of regional and town plans. Act 250 is being reviewed. VTrans is revising its project prioritization process in a way that would enable regions to send projects up for consideration. And the Agency of Natural Resources is seeking greater input from the regions and towns in basin planning, as well as prioritization of basin plan projects. There's a lot going on!

By November we hope to have a sense of the full scope of the plan update, and from that scope we'll develop a detailed work plan. The goal is to take the time needed to do the work that needs doing well, involving towns and the public every step of the way. Please let us know what issues you feel need to be addressed.

Last Updated: 07 January 2021
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