Vernon receives 'Village Center' designation

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VERNON — An area in the town of Vernon has been designated as a Vermont Village Center by the Vermont Downtown Development Board.

The designated area includes the Town Office building, the elementary school, the Governor Hunt House, a number of residential properties and some undeveloped land.

The board voted for the designation at its meeting on Sept. 25 in Montpelier. Five other towns also received Village Center designations, and five towns had their designations renewed or amended. There are now more than 140 designated village centers in the state.

In Vernon, the designation process grew out of a visioning effort during 2016 led by the Vermont Council on Rural Development, in which Vernon residents developed priority projects for the future of the town. These included the development of a village center — the town does not currently have a traditional village cluster of homes and businesses — as well as the development of a store, caf and gathering place.

The task forces formed to pursue these goals merged, and recently formed a non-profit organization, the Friends of Vernon Center, Inc., for the purpose of pursuing both goals. The Friends are chaired by Arthur Miller, co-owner of the Miller Farm.

The Friends worked with the town and its Planning and Economic Development Commission to pursue the designation.

Vermont Village Center Designation will help the town to apply for grants for purposes such as master planning for the village area, which will be done with public input regarding the types of development to be pursued.

Village Center Designation also brings financial incentives, training, and technical assistance to help attract new businesses and vitality, and qualifies towns to apply for historic tax credits to property owners in order to help finance development projects.

The designation does not create zoning or other restrictions on property owners.

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