WRC NEWSLETTER                                                  MARCH 2015
Website  |  About  |  Meetings & Events  |  News  |  Committees  |  Publications  |  Towns |  Contact
WRC Commissioners

March 2, 12:00 pm:

Public Policy & Leg.


March 4, 2:00 pm:

Natural Resources


March 5, 9:00 am:

50th Anniversary


March 5, 5:30 pm:

Energy Committee 


March 9, 12:00 pm:

Public Policy & Leg.


March 9, 4:30 pm:



March 9, 7:00 pm:

Stratton Town Plan Public Hearing


March 10, 7:00 pm:

Executive Board


March 12, 4:30 pm:

Community Development


March 13, 1:00 pm:

Windham Town Plan Public Hearing


March 16, 5:30 pm:
Planning Coordination


March 17, 5:30 pm:
Local Emergency Planning
Brattleboro Fire Department 


March 23, 12:00 pm:
Public Policy & Leg.


March 31, 7:00 pm: 

Full Commission

Location TBD


**All Committee Meetings take place in the WRC Conference Room unless otherwise noted.


**All meetings are subject to change, please check the website for updates.


Crosby-Gannett Fund (Brattleboro and Surrounding Area)

Deadline: April 15 and October 15, 2015

For more information click here


Dunham-Mason Fund (Brattleboro and Surrounding Area)

Deadline: April 15 and October 15, 2015

For more information click here.


National Endowment for the Arts

Art Works

DEADLINE: July 23, 2015
Challenge America

DEADLINE: April 16, 2015
For more information 
click here.

USDA Rural Development - Community Facility Loans
& Grants

DEADLINE:  Ongoing (contact USDA office)

For more information click here.

New England Grass Roots Environmental Fund

DEADLINE:  Rolling (Seed Grant) and March 15 and September 15, 2015 (Grow Grant)

For more information click here.

Vermont Arts Council - Project Grant

DEADLINE:  May 15, 2015

For more information click here

Vermont Community Development Program

DEADLINE:  Rolling

For more information click here.

Vermont Community Foundation

Small & Inspiring

DEADLINE:  April 1, August 3, October 1, and December 1, 2015

Special & Urgent Needs

DEADLINE:  Rolling

For more information click here.

Vermont Urban and Community Forestry - Caring for Canopy Grants

DEADLINE:  April 10, 2015

For more information click here.


Windham Foundation

DEADLINE: May 11, 2015, and August 5, 2015

For more information click here.  



Upcoming Grants will be a regular column in the WRC Newsletter, for a complete list please click here
For additional information about grant possibilities for your projects please contact Susan at 


In observance of the 50th anniversary of the Windham Regional Commission, we'll be sharing perspectives about the history the Commission and our service to our towns.



The Windham Regional Planning & Development Commission (WRPDC) and the Creation of
Act 250


Act 250 was conceived 40 years ago on May 28 in Brattleboro and after an active pregnancy was birthed nine-plus months later by the legislature and signed into law by

Governor Deane Davis.


Before commenting on the conception let me note that the scene for it was set on May 14, 1969 at the Second Annual Governor's Conference on Natural Resources held at the Statehouse in Montpelier. The Conference theme was; "Maintaining Environmental Quality In Vermont." Some 500 attended. In the opening panel that had the task of identifying Vermont's environmental problems, land development issues were only generally alluded to. Water pollution, air pollution and other environmental issues received the most attention. It was at this conference that Governor Davis established his Commission on Environmental Control, chaired by Art Gibb, "to develop a comprehensive program of proposed legislation for presentation to the 1970 session of the General Assembly" to protect and preserve our environment.


Two weeks after this conference Governor Davis and some of his cabinet heads and staff came to Brattleboro for the Chamber of Commerce's first annual Governor's Day. The day began with a breakfast meeting with the Executive Board of the Windham Regional Commission. The Commission invited the Governor to breakfast to talk with him about the second home development taking place in western Windham County, development that stretched from Whitingham and Halifax in the south through the Deerfield Valley towns of Wilmington and Dover to Stratton and Winhall in the north. Wilmington and Dover were the towns focused on in this meeting.


The breakfast was fascinating. Jack Veller, the Commission's chair and also the chair of the Dover Planning Commission and a realtor, described the second home development then occurring in Wilmington and Dover, development stimulated by the three ski areas in these towns (there were nine ski areas in the county at this time). In Wilmington there were some 36 active subdivisions, in Dover 25. Some like the 1,100 acre Chimney Hill development in Wilmington were virtually sold out. Others like the 4,000 acre Dover Hills in Dover were in process. Still others like Haystack in Wilmington were in the planning stage. The Dover Hills land was 1/6th of Dover's land base. Land speculation and sale was occurring at an order of magnitude never before seen in Vermont.


Governor Davis learned that some subdivision lots were a quarter to half acre in size on 10-15 degree slopes, that water was promised lot buyers in some subdivisions but no water source was identified, that on-site septic was resulting in sewage overflow on steep slopes, that some subdivision roads could not accommodate fire trucks or school buses, that development on high elevation sites had significant ecological impacts, that town services and officials were overwhelmed by developers' demands on them, and much more. It's clear that the Vermont Development Department's 1960s "Beckoning Country" slogan had over-beckoned.

This was all new to the Governor. He was amazed by what he heard and asked many questions, stretching a breakfast that was to last an hour or so to almost two hours. When it ended he said he wanted to come back soon to spend a day touring some of the developments we described to him, and also to talk with some of the local officials, realtors, bankers and some people involved in the land development business.


He returned two weeks later. We spent the morning touring some developments in Wilmington, including Chimney Hill, and had lunch with the Wilmington select board and listers. The afternoon was spent in Dover where we drove some of the 12-15 miles of road in Dover Hills seeing one acre lots one after another. Dinner was at the Red Mill in Wilmington with over 100 developers, town officials, bankers, realtors, and others present. There was lots of back and forth with the Governor asking many questions.


The day's tour and gatherings made it abundantly evident that the towns did not have the manpower or expertise to guide and regulate the second home development that was taking place. Local plans and bylaws like zoning were only then being written. State standards and controls were needed to fill the gap.


At June's end Governor Davis came to Windham County once again, this time to address the annual meeting of the Windham Regional Commission.  He told the Commission that he was directing the Gibb Commission to make a land development control bill a top priority for the 1970 legislative session. He also said he was forming a technical advisory team, headed by Walter Blucher, to look into the proposed new 2,000 acre Haystack Development in Wilmington.


Conception had more than occurred. What came to be Act 250 was off and running. The next eight months were a busy time in Windham County and Montpelier. Many of the Gibb Commission members, legislators and others came to see what was happening in the Deerfield Valley and Windham County. The Governor's technical advisory team  reviewed several large developments and Governor Davis himself personally intervened to stop two undesirable major second home development projects, one in Stratton and the other in the unorganized town of Somerset. The Health Department enacted interim health subdivision regulations to deal with some immediate sewage disposal health issues. WRPDC chair Jack Veller served on the Governor's Environmental Control Commission and Arthur Westing and I were on the Environmental Control Commission's Advisory Committee.


In March 1970 House Bill 417 on Environmental Control, which came to be known as Act 250, became law. 


With the passage of Act 250 a conference looking forward to the law's implementation in the state and region - and the implementation of the other new environmental laws - was held with the WRPDC and Southeastern Vermont Board of Realtors as cosponsors. The conference, titled "Vermont's Environment: Talk and Action," took place on May 28, 1970 at Windham College in Putney and was attended by WRPDC commissioners, realtors, town selectboard, planning and zoning board members, town clerks, area legislators, attorneys, land developers, members of the press and others.


Gov. Davis was the keynote speaker. He concluded his remarks with these words:

".... in closing let me express my appreciation to the WRPDC for the work done on behalf of the State of Vermont. There is no organization in the state that has cooperated more closely or more effectively with my office in the last year than this commission. Through your efforts we realized the land development problem in Vermont, tried out temporary solutions such as the Governor's Development Advisory Team, and had a thorough debate and discussion on the environmental package."

Act 250 called for the creation of district environmental commissions and a development permit review process backed by a state land use plan to guide the location of larger developments. This plan would also provide guidance to state agencies in preparing plans for capital programs and, importantly, would coordinate the state's plans under 250 with duly adopted local and regional plans.


A draft of a state land use plan was prepared. It was the last of three plans called for in Act 250. The first plan, the interim land capability plan, was adopted in 1972.  The second plan, the land capability and development plan, was adopted by the General Assembly in 1973. The third and final plan, the state land use plan, was presented at public hearings throughout the state in late 1973 but was not approved by the General Assembly in 1974. The failure of the General Assembly to enact a state land use plan was Governor Davis' greatest regret on leaving office.


The WRPDC for its part coordinated with state planners and others in the early 1970s in the drafting of the various state plans and, following the failure of the proposed state land use plan to become law, drafted the Commission's second regional plan and a model town plan and zoning bylaw based on the state land capability and development plan. The commission also undertook a related ecological planning study in 1970-72 in Dover and Wilmington under the direction of nationally known landscape architect Ian McHarg.


Bill Schmidt

February 2015
Cross Country Skiing
1960 - Putney, VT
Westminster, VT 
Executive Director

Associate Director

Office Manager

Finance Manager

Senior Planner

Planning Technician

Senior Planner

Senior Planner


Assistant Planner

Who is Serving Your Town?

Town meeting has just passed and it is time to update contact information for the officials serving your town. Having up to date information is an invaluable resource for the Commission, staff, towns, and other state agencies. In addition to updating the town officials form, please advise us who from your town has been appointed to serve as WRC Commissioners. Please fill out the forms completely with contact information for all of your officials, including phone, mailing address, and email.

Please contact Ashley Collins if you have any questions (802) 257-4547 ext 107, or ashleyc@windhamregional.org.

Municipal Shared Services
Discussion Reminder


On March 19th at 6:00 p.m.  at the Townshend Town Hall we will have a discussion on the possibility of shared municipal services and procurement.  A light dinner will be served so please RSVP at wrc@windhamregional.org or 257-4547.  

For more information contact Susan McMahon x114 or susan@windhamregional.org.

Route 30 Transit Feasibility Study:

Seeking Input from Potential Users on
Tuesday, March 17


Who within the VT Route 30 corridor would use public transit if it was available and where would they go? This is a reminder that the second of two public meetings on the topic will be held Tuesday, March 17that 6 p.m. at the Newbrook Fire Station.  

For more information contact Transportation Planner Matt Mann (x120).

Emerald Ash Borer Workshop:
Responding Today


The imminent arrival of the exotic emerald ash borer (EAB) is likely to have significant implications for public and private infrastructure and for our forests. The EAB causes nearly 100% mortality of ash trees, which are among the 10 most common trees in Vermont. Towns, road crews, and utilities throughout New England are preparing for and responding to the EAB in order to protect public safety and infrastructure and to minimize its spread.

Join us on March 18th for an Emerald Ash Borer Workshop. This event will provide the knowledge and tools needed to plan for and respond to the emerald ash borer. Designed for decision-makers and maintenance crews, this workshop will lead you through the process of conducting an inventory, developing a plan, and implementing it, including important information on regulations, quarantines, utilization opportunities, and disposal.


When: Wednesday, March 18, 2015 at 9am - noon

Where: NewBrook Fire and Rescue Station, Route 30 in Newfane, VT (0.5 miles north of Newfane Village)

WhoTown officials (Selectboards, Planning Commissions, Town Managers, Conservation Commissions, and Town Tree Wardens), local and state road foremen and crews, utility companies, foresters and other forestry-related professionals.


Environmental Road Scholar Program credits from the Local Roads Program will be available.

Refreshments will be served.


Speakers for the event include:

  • Jim EsdenForester II, VT Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation
  • Mollie Klepack, Forest Pest Outreach Coordinator, UVM Extension
  • Bob Everingham, VT Forest Pest First Responder & Owner, All about Trees

The event is co-sponsored by the Windham Regional Commission's Natural Resources Committee, Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation, University of Vermont Extension, All about Trees, the Windham County Natural Resources Conservation District, and the Town of Brattleboro.


An RSVP is greatly appreciated. To RSVP or to receive additional information please email Kim Smith at ksmith@windhamregional.org or call (802) 257-4547 ext 108. 

WRC Emergency Planner Gets Certification


Alyssa Sabetto, Emergency Planner here at WRC, recently became a Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM).  In the past, Alyssa has worked as a FEMA contractor, assisting numerous towns throughout her native Pennsylvania with their bylaw updates.   She looks forward to assisting more towns in our region.    If your town desires assistance with floodplain bylaw updates, or has questions related to floodplain management, please contact her.

Town Profiles Now Available 

Need to know the population trend in your town for the past 50 years?  Curious about your community's median age?  Wondering how your town's median income compares to its neighbors?  WRC's Town Profiles have all this information and more.


The Town Profile documents contain a wealth of information from the U.S. Census Bureau's Decennial Cen  sus and American Community Survey.  Topics include population (counts and age), median age, housing units, seasonal housing, median monthly rent, household size, number of households, median household income, employment by industry, household vehicle ownership, and travel to work.

The profiles were originally developed by Emily Wilson, a 2014 summer intern from Putney and a student at the University of Connecticut.  PDF files are available on the WRC web site, either from the Publications page, or in the Towns section.  Paper copies are available at the WRC office for 50 cents each.  Towns will be receiving a copy of their profile soon.

WRC 50th Celebration Continues 


The WRC will celebrate its 50th anniversary in diverse ways, including a short video, a written narrative history and live presentations from people who have played a key role in the evolution of the organization. 


At the February Commission meeting, Bill Schmidt and Corky Elwell gave a fascinating presentation about the origins and founding of Windham Regional Commission.  In March the subject will be about WRC and Act 250 and we will hear from Bill Schmidt and April Hensel (Vermont District Environmental Commission).  The series will continue through November with the following topics:
  • WRC and Human Services (and other organizations that WRC assisted with establishing)
  • WRC and Natural Resource Planning
  • Act 200 and WRC
  • WRC and Transportation (and other special project areas)
  • WRC and Energy
  • WRC and the Region's Future

All of these presentations are being filmed by Brattleboro Community Access TV (BCTV)  and soon a link will be provided to view the series.  Stayed tuned for an announcement about an upcoming 50th Anniversary event in June.  For more information contact Susan at x114 or susan@windhamregional.org.

Recently completed Main Street Arts addition for accessibility. This project received grants from the Vermont Community Development Program and WRC Brownfields Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund. 

Local Emergency Operations Plan (LEOP) Updates


It's that time of year again!  We would like to remind you that the annual deadline for towns to submit their Local Emergency Operations Plans (LEOPs) is approaching.  To ensure your town meets Emergency Relief and Assistance Fund and grant requirements, the state requires that towns update and adopt LEOPs after town meeting day but before May 1st. The Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security has asked regional commissions to assist towns with the development and submittal of LEOPs to the state.  WRC emergency planner Alyssa Sabetto will send out the 2015 template, which is essentially the same as the 2014 template with the addition of stream and river emergency protection measures guidance.  If you did not fill out a Local Emergency Operations Plan in 2014, you can find the template, appendices and guidance online here.

Please note that certification of adoption of the LEOP can be done by any member of the selectboard as long as they have taken the required Incident Command System 402 or 100 courses.  Additionally, the website for additional information about NIMS (National Incident Management System) typed resources has been changed.  Information on NIMS typed resources can now be found here.


Please make sure to list contacts within the LEOP in order of priority for contact.  During emergencies, the State Emergency Operations Center will initially try to contact the first listed individual. If they are unsuccessful they will then attempt to reach the second individual and so on.


Alyssa is happy to assist your town with completing the LEOP.  Please contact her with questions or to set up a meeting.  She can be reached at either asabetto@windhamregional.org or 802-257-4547 ext. 109.

Windham Region Traffic Count Program


It is traffic counting season again and WRC staff can assist your community with the evaluation of traffic including speed, class, and volume of traffic.  Please visit our web page for a Traffic Count Request Form and detailed information on traffic count data. 

If you would like to have a traffic counter placed in your town this spring, summer or fall please call Matt Mann (x120).  


It's Spring!  Are You Ready?


Spring will be most welcome after a particularly cold winter.  But as we all know, the spring thaw and rains can present towns, businesses and households with water issues.  Some of these are relatively benign, like the annual appearance of groundwater in a basement.  Others, such as ice flows and ice jams on streams and rivers, can cause catastrophic damage.  Still others, such as muddy, rutted town roads can isolate individual homes and neighborhoods.  The photo below is a reminder of how dramatic spring flooding can be.  Taken by Williamsville photographer Porter Thayer in March, 1936, it shows the remnants of an ice jam on the West River in West Dummerston.


Porter Thayer, "West River Road with Ice Jam, Dummerston" 1936. From University of Vermont Libraries Center for Digital Initiatives.

For much of the Connecticut River Valley, it is the March floods of 1936 that remain the biggest flooding event on record.  A stalled warm front dumped a lot of rain on top of a thick snowpack and frozen ground after a particularly cold winter (for more information please click here.  


Forecasters are assessing the risks posed by this year's thaw conditions and will be presenting that information at a series of ice jam/spring flood summits across the state (contact Alyssa Sabetto for more information).  Because of our geography, every season is flood season in the Windham Region, but the unpredictable movement of ice and water in our rivers and streams is a good reminder for each household, business and town to think ahead about how they would respond when an emergency happens.  Spring is a good time to revisit emergency plans not only for completeness, but also for a very honest, real-world assessment about capacity and ability to act on the plans.  If a situation arises, are those plans actionable?

Windham Regional Commission 
139 Main Street, Suite 505
Brattleboro, VT 05301
Phone: (802) 257-4547
Fax: (802) 254-6383