State Awards $40,000 to Town of Hartford for Growth PlanningHartford Receives Growth Center Award To Plan For Future Development WHITE RIVER JCT., Vt. – The state has awarded a $40,000 grant to the Town of Hartford to help the town plan for Growth Center designation, a move that would help streamline future development and create jobs and housing opportunities. “I’m very pleased that Hartford won this grant, and that it might someday benefit this project,” said Governor Jim Douglas, who presented the check to town officials after watching a presentation on a proposed redevelopment project on Prospect Street in White River Junction. “This is why I signed the Growth Center bill, to encourage communities to create more compact and dense mixed use development in appropriate areas.”This is the second year that the Department has awarded, through a competitive process, a special grant for Growth Center Designation planning. Last year Colchester received the grant.Growth Center Designation was created by the Legislature and subsequently signed into law by Governor Douglas in 2006 in an effort to encourage communities to plan for denser and mixed use development in appropriate areas.The legislation established a two-step process, whereby an advisory board, the Planning Coordination Group, provides technical assistance to towns interested in designation, and the Expanded Downtown Development Board reviews final applications for full designation.Designated Growth Centers receive benefits under Act 250, including relaxed thresholds; greater flexibility in reducing impact on agricultural soils; and increased options for obtaining revenues to fund infrastructure investment.Hartford will use their grant monies to work with the Planning Coordination Group and complete a final application to go before the Expanded Downtown Development Board for Growth Center designation by the end of the 18-month grant period.”We are very pleased to receive this grant from the state,” said Lori Hirshfield, Director of Planning and Development Services for the Town of Harford. “Hartford is unique in that historically development has been concentrated in five villages while retaining much of the town’s rural character. These funds will help us preserve what makes it special while planning for growth that will keep it vital.”Since the establishment of the Growth Center Program in early 2007, several communities have gone through the preliminary review including Montpelier, Waitsfield, and Middlebury and others, including Colchester, will be going through the preliminary review shortly.Two communities, Williston and Bennington, have received full growth center designation by the Board.This special award is part of the Municipal Planning Grant Program, funded by the Municipal and Regional Planning Fund established in 1988 from revenue generated by the property transfer tax.The fund assists Vermont municipalities with the development of town plans and other community planning projects such as zoning bylaws, encouragement of citizen participation and education, and innovative demonstration planning projects.The Vermont Department of Housing and Community Affairs (DHCA), which awarded Hartford’s grant, is making more than $800,000 in grants available to communities across the state for municipal planning and other special projects.Municipalities may apply for Municipal Planning Grants of up to $15,000 or $25,000 for multi-town “consortia” projects.”These grants help Vermont’s cities and towns craft plans that promote economic and housing development in our downtowns and village centers, while protecting Vermont’s working landscape from sprawl,” Douglas said.The Municipal Planning Grant website can be accessed at: www.dhca.state.vt.us/Planning/MPG.htm(link is external).For more information about the Growth Centers Program, please visit: http://www.dhca.state.vt.us/Planning/GrowthCenters.htm(link is external).