Town Planning

staff:  matt bachler, mike mcconnell

24 V.S.A. Chapter 117 enables towns to guide their futures with Town Plans. To be approved, Plans must contain 12 specific required elements and address conformance with 14 specific Vermont state planning goals. Plans expire eight years after adoption.
Town Plans are:

    • written by the town Planning Commission,
    • adopted by the town Selectboard, and may be
    • approved by the Regional Commission, if so requested by the Town.
    • Click here for a chart (PDF, last updated February 9, 2023) 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, and NFIP-compliant flood hazard area regulations, as well as the status of whether the town has a Zoning Board of Adjustment or a Development Review Board.

Useful Documents from the WRC:   

   Basics of Land Use Planning and Regulation PDFNEW!

  • Presentation on essentials of town planning, land use regulation, and open meeting law

   Addressing COVID-19 Restrictions with Interim Bylaws PDF:

  • For towns interested in addressing issues in their zoning that may hinder re-opening of businesses under COVID-19 restrictions
  • Developed by WRC and numerous partners 

  WRC Municipal Services Policy, PDF

   Town Plan Review Duties and Responsibilities, PDF (45kb):

  • Serves as a summary or simplified account of the Regional Commission Approval process
  • Describes the town plan review process by WRC for Town Plan approval 

   Town Self-Assessment Form PDF (74kb):

  • Helps ensure that nothing that is required by law is left out of the plan 
  • Lists all the required elements of the Town Plan and the state planning goals and asks the Planning Commission to state on what page(s) these are addressed.
  • This form, completed by the Planning Commission, may accompany 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 addressing the Child Care Planning Goal (Goal 13).
  • Includes definitions, resources, and options for addressing the components of the Goal

Useful Links:

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 townspeople. If a Town wishes to be eligible for state Municipal Planning Grants to further its planning processes, such as updating the Plan or zoning or subdivision regulations, or applying for and renewing state Village Center designation, or conducting special studies, it must have its plan approved and its planning processes confirmed by the WRC.

Intergovernmental Agreements

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, then Senior Staff Attorney with the Vermont League of Cities and Towns.  His presentation is available here.

Last Updated: 13 February 2023
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