Municipal Development Plan – We Need You!

Please Give Us Your Feedback and Help Shape the Future of Vergennes

The Planning Commission is currently working to update the City’s award-winning Municipal Development Plan [.pdf] in preparation for its required renewal by September 2019.  The purpose of this Web page is to welcome and solicit your feedback on the potential changes to the Plan, and to keep you well informed of the status of the renewal effort. Please check back often for updates!

Table of Contents:

What is the Municipal Development Plan?

The Municipal Development Plan (the Plan) is a planning document used to shape every key aspect of life in Vergennes, thus making it one of the City’s most important documents. It acts as a historical biography, branding and marketing tool, regulatory aid, community guide, project prioritization reference, and planning goal post. It encapsulates our community history and fully identifies who we are now, while projecting who we want to be. It sets broad goals and objectives for the future of the community, and, in doing so, guides the land use, growth, development, conservation, recreation, municipal and business activities in Vergennes. It helps us to make informed decisions about a broad range of issues and, ultimately, create the type of community that we envision. The Plan is also necessary for the City to be able to participate in certain beneficial state programs, receive grant contributions and obtain external funding for municipal projects.  In addition, all developments and subdivisions, including those required to obtain a permit under Act 250, must conform to the City’s duly adopted Plan.  In summary, the Plan is as vital to the successful management and growth of the City as an NFL team’s playbook.

The current Plan was adopted by the Vergennes City Council on September 30, 2014 with amendments adopted by the Council on July 18, 2017. In accordance with State law, municipal development plans automatically expire five years after their last date of adoption, thereby requiring the City to renew its Plan by September 30, 2019. The Plan must be reviewed and the information on which it is based be updated before it expires.

Notices and Updates

We NEED Your Feedback!

Any municipal development plan shines brightest and works best when it’s created with the community’s full participation.  The Planning Commission greatly encourages you to attend the Public Forum or review the Forum materials (when made available below), and provide your feedback on the City’s Plan in the form of comments, questions, complaints, new ideas or suggestions at the Public Forum or via email to:

vergennesplan@gmail.com

Possible Changes to the Municipal Development Plan

Key issue areas under consideration by the Planning Commission for revision and updating in the Municipal Development Plan include, but are not limited to, the following:

1. Regarding the High Density Residential District (the orange sections of the Land Use Map and Zoning Map [.pdf]) – Do the current dimensional standards (for minimum lot size, front yard set-back, rear yard set-back, building height, etc.) make sense for a “high density” district? What should development look like in this district? What type of development should be approved (or denied) by the City for this district?

2. Regarding the Agricultural and Rural Residential District (the green sections of the Land Use Map and Zoning Map [.pdf]) – Given our small size and identity as a city center for several local communities, should we continue to have this district and, if not, what should that area look like in the future?

3. What should the City look like in the future in terms of accessibility / connectivity / pedestrian safety, including:  walking & biking options (trails? paths? the rail trail? a greenbelt connecting right-of-ways?); vehicle speeds, tractor trailer truck traffic, safer crossings; and is the ½ mile radius around downtown truly walkable and, if not, how is that goal to be achieved?

4. How will the City meet the community’s energy needs in the future?

Missed the Public Forum? Learn About It HERE

Plans and Regulations

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: How does the Municipal Development Plan affect me? Why should I get involved in its renewal?

The Plan shapes every key aspect of life in Vergennes, including land use, growth, development, conservation, recreation, municipal and business activities – all or some of which do (or will) affect you as a City resident, landowner, business owner or local neighbor.  You should get involved in the Plan’s renewal as a means of being proactive – by steering the City in the direction you desire – rather than being reactive – by fighting against future decisions based on the Plan that you don’t agree with.

Q. What public involvement opportunities will be made available for the Municipal Development Plan renewal?

The Planning Commission welcomes public involvement throughout the Plan’s renewal process.  The avenues for involvement include:
(a) attend the Public Forum (September 13, 2018, 7pm, Vergennes Opera House),
(b) submit comments via email to vergennesplan@gmail.com at any time,
(c) attend a Planning Commission meeting (first Monday of each month, 7pm, City Hall),
(d) talk directly to a Planning Commission member, and
(e) complete any surveys developed by the Commission, which will be made available on this Web page.

Q. How do I provide comments on the current Municipal Development Plan or the proposed changes?

You may provide comments at the Public Forum (September 13, 2018, 7pm, Vergennes Opera House) in verbal or written form, or submit your comments via email to vergennesplan@gmail.com at any time.

Q. What is the deadline for providing comments on the current Municipal Development Plan or the proposed changes?

You may provide your comments via email to vergennesplan@gmail.com until the Plan is renewed in September 2019.  However, your comments have a greater chance of impacting the decisions of the Planning Commission the sooner they are submitted in the renewal process.  The Commission recommends submitting your comments as soon as you have an opinion.

Q. Will my comments on the current Municipal Development Plan or the proposed changes be addressed in the renewed Plan?

The Planning Commission will acknowledge and discuss your comments at the Public Forum or subsequent Commission meetings; however, we cannot guarantee that they will be reflected in the renewed Plan.

Q. Will my questions on the current Municipal Development Plan or the proposed changes be answered?

The Planning Commission will acknowledge and respond to your questions in the manner they are received, either at the Public Forum or via email.

Q. How is the Municipal Development Plan different from the 2016 Vergennes-Basin Master Plan?

The Municipal Development Plan addresses the entirety of the City of Vergennes, is required under State law, and plays many significant government roles that are tied to regulations, permits, grants, and funding.  The 2016 Vergennes-Basin Master Plan addresses only the needs and desires of the downtown and adjacent river basin area, and, while an invaluable planning document, is it not legally required.

Q. Will the 2016 Vergennes-Basin Master Plan be incorporated into the Municipal Development Plan?

The 2017 Amendments to the Municipal Development Plan included incorporating the 2016 Vergennes-Basin Master Plan by reference only.  The Planning Commission plans to revise the Municipal Development Plan to also incorporate some of the content of the 2016 Vergennes-Basin Master Plan, where appropriate.

Definitions / Acronyms

Below are just some of the terms used on this Web page – a more comprehensive list of definitions can be found here: Zoning and Subdivision Regulations [.pdf]

Agricultural and Rural Residential District (AGR) = The AGR encompasses two considerable areas of undeveloped and agriculturally significant lands that remain open in Vergennes. These areas are seen when arriving from the south on Route 22A, or from the north along Comfort Hill and Macdonough Drive. The purpose of the AGR is to preserve and maintain the rural character of open lands and to protect and promote viable agriculture, important scenic vistas and landscapes, open spaces, passive recreational values and other natural, cultural and environmental resources. The AGR is the green sections of the City’s Land Use Map and Zoning Map [.pdf].

Greenbelt = A greenbelt is a land use designation used to retain largely undeveloped, wild, or agricultural areas surrounding or neighboring urban areas. A greenbelt can be used for recreation and/or conservation purposes.

High Density Residential District (HDR) = The HDR is comprised of areas that are generally undeveloped, close to older sections of the city, can be serviced by public utilities, and generally held in large parcels. However, these vacant lands generally have one or more limitations that require careful site and building design including severe topography, utility locations, as well as areas of significant natural resources. The purpose of the HDR is to allow the continuation and expansion of residential and related uses while permitting higher clustered densities to accommodate topographical and natural resource constraints.  The HDR is the orange sections of the City’s Land Use Map and Zoning Map [.pdf].

Right-of-way (ROW) = A ROW is a type of easement granted or reserved over the land for transportation purposes, this can be for a highway, public footpath, rail transport, canal, as well as electrical transmission lines, oil and gas pipelines.

Walkable = An adjective meaning that an area is capable of being traveled, crossed or covered by walking.  Several factors influence the measure of walkability, including: the presence or absence of quality footpaths, sidewalks or other pedestrian rights-of-way, traffic and road conditions, and safety.

Contact Us

The Planning Commission wants to hear from you! Please submit your comments, questions, complaints, new ideas or suggestions regarding the Municipal Development Plan to:

vergennesplan@gmail.com