Jun 102013

Welcome to the Vermont Planners Association (VPA), a statewide, non-profit, membership-based organization of professional and citizen planners, landscape architects, engineers, housing and economic development specialists, developers and others who support good planning. VPA supports the planning profession through outreach, professional development opportunities and encourages all members to maintain an open dialogue on contemporary planning issues. Through its membership, VPA is advancing the art and science of planning in Vermont.

Learn more about planning events, workshops and training seminars here on our site or at the Vermont Planning Information Center (VPIC)–www.vpic.info.

To learn how to become a member of VPA, go to the “Join VPA” page in this site.

Sep 162016

Registration is now open for the VPA Fall Conference to be held on November 18 in Randolph Center.  Conference focus: Legal Matters.  Join your colleagues to learn about current legal issues driving conversation and concern in Vermont planning.  Public Service Board use of plan provisions; new renewable energy siting law (Act 174); US Supreme Court ruling on sign regulation and freedom of speech. Including: VPA annual meeting, lunch, networking, and a quiz show!  AICP credit is pending and anticipated – including CM law credits.


Registration and details – http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=hwbws8qab&oeidk=a07edcidlw59b0e406e

Apr 252016

Registration is now open for the VPA Spring Workshop to be held on May 13th in Springfield.  The Future of Rural Vermont: Challenges & Choices – Join your colleagues in Springfield to learn about new research on land use trends across the state, and explore what it might mean to achieve Vermont’s goal of compact settlements surrounded by working lands. Act 250 criterion 9(L), rural development success stories, Springfield walking tour!


Jan 132016

For more information on VPA’s work, please click here: http://www.vermontplanners.org/legislation/
For legislative updates and papers, please click here: http://www.vermontplanners.org/legislation/legislative-reports/

Jan 112016

On Thursday, April 28th the Vermont Planners Association will be celebrating this year’s recipients at an awards ceremony beginning at 4PM in the Cedar Creek Room of the Vermont State House.  Please see the below link for the official press release:

2016 VPA awards

Nov 062015

The Vermont Planners Association held an overview of current water quality issues, innovation in planning, and best practices on December 11, 2015 in the Bliss Room of the St. Albans Historical Museum in  St. Albans . This day-long workshop focused on big-picture water quality planning in the morning and best practices in the afternoon. Lessons learned from different implementation techniques will be shared and a walking tour of green infrastructure were provided. While CM credits are still pending, all of the presentations made that day have been uploaded here.

Jun 302015

The Vermont Planners Association is proud to share its adopted 2015 Strategic Plan, produced with the assistance of a $2500 grant through the VCF’s Nonprofit Capacity Building Work, with input received through a well-attended professionally-facilitated session at the Pizzagalli Center at the Shelburne Museum in the Fall of 2014, and many hours of volunteer work from passionate members through the winter and spring. The Strategic Plan was formally adopted at the 2015 VPA Spring Workshop held May 29th.

The purpose of the Vermont Planner’s Association’s 10-year Strategic Plan is to guide the activities and initiatives of the organization as it works to fulfill its mission. The Strategic Plan will be updated every 10 years. The plan will be reviewed, and amended if necessary, every five years to ensure applicability to organization. The Strategic Plan will be the guiding document for the drafting of the VPA’s annual work plan, as adopted by the membership.

VPA Past-President and member of the Strategic Planning Committee Dana Hanley: ” We wish to thank VCF for this important funding.  We are very pleased with the outcome of the whole project. Many  volunteer non-profits can struggle to set and achieve their missions without funding partners. Thanks for being there for us!”



May 272015

Vermont Planners Association

Announces 2015 Planning Awards

Montpelier, VT:  The Vermont Planners Association (VPA) is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2015 planning awards.  Since 1992, the VPA has recognized outstanding achievement in Vermont community planning through its annual awards.  The field of nominations was very competitive, with judging occurring by the New Hampshire Planners Association.  According to Sarah Hadd, President of the Vermont Planners Association, “All of the recipients of this year’s awards are excellent examples of how Vermont citizens can work cooperatively to achieve great results for their communities.”  The awards will be presented in May 29th at the organization’s Spring Workshop in St. Johnsbury at 12:30 at the Catamount Film & Arts Center.

Bob Buermann, of South Hero, Vermont, is recognized as the 2015 Citizen Planner of the Year, for his commitment to Grand Isle County.  He is a tireless advocate for community service, energy conservation, public transportation, smart growth and regional planning.  Buermann serves on a number of local and regional boards and is frequently asked to serve in leadership roles.  Often he simply steps up to initiate and lead community efforts.  Buermann is extremely effective in establishing and coordinating volunteer groups and achieving outcomes that have impacted local and statewide policy, as well as resulted in significant on-the-ground implementation.    Catherine Dimitruk of the Northwest Regional Planning Commission has only high praise for Buermann’s contributions.  “Bob has helped the Board of Commissioners understand the perspectives of his community of South Hero and Grand Isle County in general, applying his knowledge and experience gleaned from his private sector management to his role as a regional commissioner and Vice-Chair of the Board.”


Melissa Manka, Westford Planning Coordinator, is receiving the 2015 Mark Blucher Professional Planner of the Year Award.  As Westford’s Planning Coordinator over the last ten years, she has overseen several zoning revisions and a major rewrite of the Westford Town Plan, plus other major milestones, including spearheading the Westford Town Center Revitalization project and Village Center Designation.  Manka provides staff support to a number of the local boards, a particularly challenging job in a community that is transitioning from mostly rural to becoming a bedroom community for Burlington.  She deals all on her own with all of the same issues, concerns, and concepts as do the larger Chittenden County communities.  As Lee Krohn, of the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission says, “She is a one-person dynamo, toiling quietly in the hills of Westford, helping to make her community a better place. She has helped their Planning Commission work through some complex issues; handles the Development Review Board as well; helps bring parties together to collaborate on areas of mutual concern; creates a community photo calendar every year, and sells it to raise funds for community purposes; helps gain grants; and even watered new trees on the Town Common.  She has a style, manner, and demeanor that are perfect for her boards and for her community.”


The Development Review Board of South Burlington is being recognized as the 2015 Citizen Board of the Year.   A municipal Development Review Board (DRB) is responsible for all types of development review, including subdivisions, site plans, conditional uses, variances, and appeals of the zoning administrator’s decisions.  The South Burlington (DRB) is among the busiest, if not the busiest in the entire state and have processed an incredible 427 different applications, or over 80 per year.  The sheer volume of applications does not, however, tell the true story of this DRB’s work.  Many larger applications span multiple, productive, meetings, and each application includes individual quirks and needs.  South Burlington’s Land Development Regulations include a total of fifty (50) different zoning districts and overlay zoning districts and Land Development Regulations exceeding 300 pages in length. Understanding and applying standards within these districts, all in a community of 18,000 residents, is a massive undertaking for a volunteer board.  While the Board is quasi-judicial, with the power of decision, they always, as a matter of course, encourage applicants to work out differences towards successful outcomes within the confines for the regulations.  Paul Conner, South Burlington’s Director of Planning and Zoning, finds the City’s DRB a pleasure to work with.  “The City is fortunate to have a long tradition of extremely thoughtful members with a range of backgrounds and skills.   This balance of different areas of expertise and perspectives has been one of the strengths of this Board over the years.”



Two of the state’s regional planning commissions are the recipients of VPA’s 2015 Plan of the Year Award for their development of the plan East Central Vermont: What We Want.  The Two Rivers-Ottauquechee (TRORC) and the Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commissions joined forces to create a plan that explicitly acknowledges challenges and aims to create a more sustainable region.  The plan covers the 40-town area of the two regional planning commissions and it represents a consortium of dozens of organizations, towns, agencies and citizens that worked on developing it, as well as several formal organizational partners that lent valuable expertise.  In order to help make it more accessible to the lay person, the plan leaves much of the background material out, relegating it to a series of white papers.  There was a constant push to condense the plan, since thick plans are often not read.   As Kevin Geiger of TRORC says, “this plan is a beautiful, readable, honest look at several planning issues and a set of actions, many associated with metrics, aimed at creating change that moves us toward a sustainable way of living.”   The organization of the plan ensured that each vision had at least one goal, and that policies related to that goal, and then actions to those policies.  The plan ends with a quote by Robert Liberty saying that, “a good plan that is not implemented is a waste of money and a fraud on the public.”  Geiger says that all planners should take this to heart.


The award for 2015 Project of the Year Award is given to the Lamoille County Planning Commission and the Smugglers Notch Partners for their Barnes Camp Restoration and the Smugglers Notch Scenic Highway.   The restoration of Barnes Camp, situated along Route 108 at the southern gateway of Smugglers’ Notch, represents the capstone achievement of a 20+ year planning effort to improve public facilities in the Smugglers Notch State Park and Scenic Highway.  This project represents a true community effort, receiving financial support from a broad range of public and private partners, as well as in-kind donations by community members.   Barnes Camp will serve as a visitor’s center for the Smugglers’ Notch Scenic Highway and State Park, and is managed through a public-private partnership between the Lamoille County Planning Commission, Green Mountain Club, Stowe Mountain Resort, and the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation, a good example of a partnership between State agencies, local businesses, and non-profits.  The restoration is a showcase of innovative, green technology to meet today’s public and environmental needs, at the same time remaining true to the building’s historic appearance.  As Seth Jensen, Interim Executive Director of the Lamoille County Planning Commission, succinctly puts it, “With the restoration complete, Barnes Camp will now serve as the key point of contact for one of the most unique scenic highways in Vermont, greatly enhancing public enjoyment of the Notch, while introducing and educating the visitors about the area’s numerous cultural, historic, and natural resources.”


For more information about the Vermont Planners Association Awards, you can visit their web site at http://www.vermontplanners.org/awards.html.  You can also follow up on twitter @VT_Planning.  The Vermont Planners Association is a statewide, non-profit, membership-based organization of professional and citizen planners, and other related professionals, dedicated to advancing the art and science of planning in Vermont.  VPA supports the planning profession through outreach, professional development opportunities and encourages all members to maintain an open dialogue on contemporary planning issues. Special thanks is provided to the New Hampshire Planners Association for their help in judging the VPA awards this year.