SENIOR PLANNER: jOHN bENNETT
24 V.S.A. Chapter 117 enables towns to guide their futures with Town Plans. The plans must contain at a minimum 12 specific elements, and the plan needs to address 14 specific Vermont planning goals. Every five years, Town Plans are:
- written by the town's Planning Commission,
- adopted by the town's Selectboard, and
- approved by the Regional Commission, if so requested by the Town.
- Click here for a chart (PDF) showing the status of 1) Town Plans for towns in the Windham Region, including adoption date, expiration date, and the status of WRC approval, and 2) the status of Bylaws and Ordinances for towns in the Windham Region, including zoning, subdivision, flood hazard, telecom, and sewage or health, as well as the status of a Zoning Board of Adjustment or a Development Review Board.
Useful Documents from the WRC:
WRC Municipal Services Policy, PDF
Town Plan Review Duties and Responsibilities, PDF (45kb):
- Serves as a summary or simplified account of the Approval process described in the above Guide
- Describes the town plan review process by WRC that may lead to Town Plan approval
Town Self-Assessment Form PDF (74kb):
- Helps insure that nothing that is required by law is left out of the plan
- Lists all the required goals and elements of the Town Plan, and asks the Planning Commission to state on what page(s) these are addressed.
- This form, completed by the Planning Commission, accompanies the draft plan to both the Selectboard and the WRC for their hearings and their separate adoption/approval processes.
Guidelines for Addressing the Vermont Child Care Planning Goal PDF (61kb):
- Produced in cooperation with the Windham Child Care Association
- Useful for towns that must address the Child Care Planning Goal (Goal 13).
- Includes definitions, resources, and options for addressing the components of the Goal
- Vermont Planning Information Center (VPIC) - publications and information on local land use planning and regulation
- Town Plan and Bylaw Adoption Tools - an excellent step by step guide
Why do Towns need a Town Plan?
Towns wishing to have a strong hand in Act 250 applications need to have a Town Plan, duly adopted by the selectboard, that protects their interests and those of its townspeople. If the Town wishes to be eligible for State Municipal Planning Grants to further their planning processes, such as updating zoning or subdivision regulations, or conducting special studies, it must also have its plan approved by the WRC, which will also confirm its planning processes.
The Windham Regional Commission, Bennington County Regional Commission, Rutland Regional Planning Commission, and the Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission, co-sponsored a workshop on inter-local agreements held at the Landgrove Inn on July 26, 2012. Mutual aid agreements related to emergency services or road maintenance are perhaps the best known form of inter-local agreement, but Vermont statute allows such agreements to be used for a wide range of municipal services, and the sharing of equipment. The workshop presenter was Jim Barlow, Senior Staff Attorney with the Vermont League of Cities and Towns. His presentation is available here.