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Searching 2021-2022 Session

The Vermont Statutes Online


Title 24 : Municipal and County Government


(Cite as: 24 V.S.A. § 2790)
  • § 2790. Legislative policy and purpose

    (a) The General Assembly finds that:

    (1) Economically strong downtowns are critical to the health and well-being of Vermont's communities and that downtowns are the natural location for both small businesses and other uses that together constitute the diverse fabric of communities that define Vermont's quality of life.

    (2) Vermont's distinctive character of historic downtowns and villages surrounded by working landscapes is recognized worldwide. This character defines Vermont's image, economy, and sense of place as well as its community spirit and identity, which are enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. This distinctive character is among our most valuable assets, and investing in its health is a critical component of the State's overall economic well-being. The General Assembly recognizes the particular importance of Vermont's downtowns as historic regional centers providing services and amenities to nonresidents and further recognizes their need for targeted support in avoiding continued loss of commercial and residential land use to the surrounding area.

    (3) Investments made to revitalize the State's historic downtowns and village centers, to encourage pedestrian-oriented development within and around the commercial core, and to build upon the State's traditional settlement patterns support statewide goals concerning energy conservation, the efficient use of transportation and other public infrastructure and services, the protection of the working landscape, and the promotion of healthy lifestyles.

    (4) Strategies, programs, and investments that advance smart growth principles today will result in the long-term fiscal, economic, cultural, and environmental viability of the State.

    (b) It is therefore the intent of the General Assembly to:

    (1) support historic downtowns and villages by providing funding, training, and resources to communities designated under this chapter, to revitalize such communities, to increase and diversify economic development activities, to improve the efficient use of public investments, including water and sewer systems, and to safeguard working landscapes;

    (2) improve the ability of Vermont's historic downtowns and villages to attract residents and businesses by enhancing their livability and unique sense of place; by expanding access to employment, housing, education and schools, services, public facilities, and other basic needs; and by expanding businesses' access to markets;

    (3) coordinate policies and leverage funding to support historic downtowns and villages by removing barriers to collaboration among local downtown organizations, municipal departments, local businesses, and local nonprofit organizations and increasing accountability and effectiveness at all levels of government to revitalize communities and plan for future growth;

    (4) promote healthy, safe, and walkable downtown and village neighborhoods for people of all ages and incomes by increasing investments in those locations; providing energy efficient housing that is closer to jobs, services, health care, stores, entertainment, and schools; and reducing the combined cost of housing and transportation;

    (5) encourage investment in mixed use development and provide for diverse housing options within walking distance of historic downtowns and villages that reinforce Vermont's traditional settlement patterns and meet the needs of community members of all social and economic groups;

    (6) develop safe, reliable, and economical transportation options in historic downtowns and villages to decrease household transportation costs, promote energy independence, improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and promote public health; and

    (7) reflect Vermont's traditional settlement patterns, and to minimize or avoid strip development or other unplanned development throughout the countryside on quality farmland or important natural and cultural landscapes.

    (c) [Repealed.]

    (d) The General Assembly finds that Vermont's communities face challenges as they seek to accommodate growth and development while supporting the economic vitality of the State's downtowns, village centers, and new town centers and maintaining the rural character and working landscape of the surrounding countryside. While it is the intention of the General Assembly to give the highest priority to facilitating development and growth in downtowns and village centers whenever feasible, when that is not feasible, the General Assembly further finds that:

    (1) A large percentage of future growth should occur within duly designated growth centers that have been planned by municipalities in accordance with smart growth principles and Vermont's planning and development goals pursuant to section 4302 of this title.

    (2) Designated growth centers, if properly located and scaled, will serve to support the State's downtowns, village centers, and new town centers by encouraging new residential neighborhoods and compatible civic, commercial, and industrial uses to locate within proximity to historic community centers.

    (3) Designated growth centers will provide a cost-effective means of allocating and targeting limited municipal and State resources to those areas specifically planned to accommodate and support concentrated development and a large percentage of future growth.

    (4) Designated growth centers will provide a mechanism for concentrating private investment in those areas targeted for growth and development through public investments and incentives, and by establishing a process that will effectively reduce cost and delay in the permitting and approval of development.

    (5) Designated growth centers will accomplish these goals if they are economically viable, they are appropriately planned to accommodate future growth needs and a mix of uses, they originate at the municipal or regional level, and they are recognized by the State under State planning, financing, and permitting programs. (Added 1997, No. 120 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 2005, No. 183 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2013, No. 59, § 1.)