Chester, Springfield, Mt. Holly among S. Vt. towns to get community planning grants Chester to study possible new neighborhood on town land

Part of the upper level of the Route 103 S. property owned by the town of Chester. Chester Telegraph file photo from 2017.

By Cynthia Prairie
©2024 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Chester, Springfield, Mount Holly, Putney and Winhall are among 31 recipients totaling $673,391 in Municipal Planning Grants offer by the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development.

Municipal Planning Grant program funds are awarded annually and support local community revitalization and planning initiatives. Since 1998, the program has provided over $15 million to 240 cities and towns, according to a press release.

Chester has been awarded $30,000 toward a $45,600 study to determine the feasibility of developing 120 acres of town land off Route 103 South, on the hill behind the Chester-Andover Family Center. The land holds Chester’s second water tank and currently has a road that leads up to the water tank.

The study will include  conceptual, implementation and phasing plans to guide the town as it moves toward construction. Town manager Julie Hance told The Telegraph on Monday that the land “is accessible to water and sewer.” She added that the grant will look at many issues to assess the site for compatibility with “different types of housing needs.” If the study determines it’s a great, or even a good site, she said, “we can move forward.”

Hance is looking at the finished project as a “neighborhood of mixed housing.”  The town will send out a Request for Proposals in February to conduct the study.

The other local grantees:

Mount Holly was given $29,999 of a $33,360 project to create a Housing Needs Assessment and Action Plan to identify housing needs, challenges and opportunities, and to plot a path forward for addressing its housing crisis.

  • Springfield was awarded $19,341 toward a total cost of $21,490 to enroll in the FEMA Community Rating System program, updating its flood hazard zoning regulations and establishing an administrative framework for program activities.

Winhall was given $21,015 toward a $23,350 project to complete a Town Plan update with a focus on strengthening the housing chapter to support additional affordable housing opportunities, and on developing priorities to support the vitality of the village of Bondville.

  • Jamaica was awarded $25,020 toward a total project cost of $27,800 to complete a Town Plan update with a focus on addressing housing affordability concerns, flood recovery and resiliency in response to the July 2023 floods, and planning for a community wastewater system in Jamaica Village.

Brattleboro, Rockingham and Wilmington have been given $45,000 toward a $50,000 project to create a vision and action plan to strengthen and grow arts and culture assets in the Windham region.

  • Putney was awarded $30,000 toward a $50,000 project to create a Housing Needs Assessment & Action Plan to engage stakeholders and build public support for recommendations that will increase access to safe, affordable, healthy, energy-efficient and climate-resilient housing to meet the diverse needs of current and future Putney residents.

“As our state works hard to ensure a future with vibrant and resilient communities, we need to continue to provide our municipalities with the tools they need to adapt and evolve. Municipal Planning Grants are one way that the state can empower communities to lay the groundwork for a stronger future,” said DHCD Commissioner Alex Farrell.

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About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor more than 40 years. Cynthia has worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland, and has won numerous state awards for her reporting. As an editor, she has overseen her staffs to win many awards for indepth coverage. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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