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Environmentally Sensitive Developments Achieve EPA Recognition in Vermont and Mass.


Two New England communities were honored by the EPA for their innovative approaches to development that strengthen community identity and protect the environment.

The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB) and the Town of Barnstable, Mass. both received the 2007 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement. As communities around the country look for ways to grow that protect and enhance their natural environment and create prosperity, many are turning to smart growth strategies. They are cleaning and reusing previously developed land; providing more housing and transportation choices; preserving critical natural areas; and developing vibrant places to live, work, shop and play. In addition to creating great communities, these smart growth strategies also protect the quality of our air, water and land.

Winning in the area of Policy and Regulation, the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB), an independent state-supported agency, promotes compact settlements surrounded by countryside. VHCB pursues affordable housing, land conservation, and historic preservation initiatives under a single program that balances competing priorities. Since 2002, VHCB investments of $84 million have supported the development of more than 3,000 affordable homes, the preservation of 44 historic buildings, and the conservation of more than 37,000 acres of farmland, natural areas, and recreation lands.

For the category of Waterfront and Coastal Community, the town of Barnstable, Massachusetts, created a development strategy for one of its seven villages, Hyannis, that encourages growth and development in the town center, while reducing growth pressure on environmentally sensitive areas along the coast. Specifically, the town adopted expedited permitting processes, invested in streetscape and wastewater treatment infrastructure, directed development from outlying areas to downtown, and improved public access to the waterfront. These policies have resulted in almost 100 new residential units (nine of which are affordable), with nearly 150 more planned; 22,000 square feet of commercial space, with another 100,000 square feet planned; and more than 300 jobs. They have also focused development around existing water and sewer infrastructure, encouraged low-impact design techniques, and protected sensitive natural areas.

Ken Perine, Chair of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, said, “We are gratified to be recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with this prestigious award. The policies that guide our investments are helping to keep Vermont a vibrant and beautiful state, while promoting economic development, attracting tourism and supporting the agricultural economy.”

“The results of the Downtown Hyannis revitalization have been remarkable,” said John Klimm, Barnstable Town Manager. “Thanks to our collaboration with local stakeholders and the implementation of smart growth initiatives, what just a few years ago was a blighted and underperforming village center is now a place where people desire to live, work and play. Both residential and commercial development is flourishing downtown and newly fostered arts and culture programs have contributed to the renaissance of downtown Hyannis.”

EPA created the National Award for Smart Growth Achievement in 2002 to recognize outstanding approaches to development that benefit the economy, the community, public health, and the environment. Over the past six years, EPA has received 481 applications from 46 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

The competition was open to state, regional, and local governments and other public sector entities. Winners were selected based on how effectively they used smart growth strategies to improve their communities and how well they engaged citizens and fostered partnerships.

EPA’s smart growth program conducts research and policy analysis on growth issues, provides direct technical assistance to state and local governments, delivers outreach and public education, and collaborates with partners in the Smart Growth Network.


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