Wednesday January 2, 2013

ROCKINGHAM -- The town has been awarded a four-figure municipal planning grant to develop a design guide for the Central Business district portion of the Design Review District.

The Vermont Department of Economic, Housing and Community Development (DEHCD) awarded $7,996 to Rockingham, which competed against 61 communities and was one of 46 chosen for funding.

The state’s municipal planning grant program supports a range of locally identified initiatives to improve the quality of life and promote efficient growth and economic development in Vermont.

Rockingham Planning-Zoning Administrator Ellen Howard said the guide will assist property owners in development of their properties with guidance as to appropriate standards and also assist the Rockingham Planning Commission, which reviews and approves the projects.

Rockingham will have a year and a half to complete this project.

Howard said the guide will be a booklet to aid continuity in the village’s infrastructure and is a common technique used by many districts.

"It’s something I feel is necessary," she said, adding that the guide will also offer guidance on proper window placement. Despite the town’s old-fashioned architecture, she said, the guide will not prohibit modern designs.

Howard said the town will hire a consultant for the guide and requests for proposal will be sent out soon, though she was not sure when specifically.

Noelle MacKay, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Economic, Housing, and Community Development, which administers the grant, said the planning grants are important to the fiscal health of the state’s communities.

"These planning grants help turn the residents’ aspirations for their community into action and are critical as we all work hard to revitalize our downtowns and villages, prepare for our economic future and build stronger neighborhoods," she said.

The Municipal Planning Grant program encourages and supports planning and revitalization for local municipalities in Vermont. The grants are awarded annually and work to strengthen Vermont by funding local planning initiatives that support statewide planning goals. Since 1998, the MPG program has provided over $9.1 million to 227 cities and towns across Vermont to help breathe new life into communities, plan for future growth and development, and improve quality of life.

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.