Yesterday Randolph became the first town in Central Vermont, and the eighth in the state, to secure approval from the Vermont Downtown Development Board for the Neighborhood Development Area (NDA) Designation.
The purpose of the NDA is to encourage mixed-income housing development next to downtowns and growth centers and reduce pressure on the surrounding rural landscape. To qualify, municipalities must meet certain requirements in terms of housing density, pedestrian facilities, traffic calming, and greenspace through their zoning ordinances, capital budgets and town plans. In return, towns and housing developers receive priority access to grants, streamlined permitting, reduced permitting fees, and tax advantages. The state estimates that qualifying housing developments save an average of $50,000 in Act 250 fees alone.
“This is a win for addressing our acute affordable housing shortage, lending a helping hand to downtown business that rely on residents, and preserving our farmlands,” said Jenny Carter, a Randolph resident and assistant professor at Vermont Law School’s Institute for Energy and the Environment, which helped the town amend its zoning and prepare its application. “It is also a win for combating climate change. Making work, schools, and shops pedestrian accessible for residents has an important added benefit of reducing transportation emissions, which are the state’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.”
The Randolph NDA encompasses most prime development spots within a half mile of the downtown area. According to Randolph Economic Development Director Josh Jerome, “The NDA can provide critical help with proposed developments such as the Town’s Branchwood Lot, a 2.5-acre vacant lot right in downtown, and RACDC’s Salisbury Square’s 22-unit high efficiency affordable housing project, plus several more with considerable redevelopment potential all within walking distance to downtown and services.”
“Communities like Randolph refuse to sit around and wait for someone else to fix their housing crisis,” said Jacob Hemmerick, Planning and Policy Manager for the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development. “They’re building partnerships, planning and investing in development-ready infrastructure, and updating zoning bylaws to welcome new homes and neighbors. Now is the time for cities, towns, and villages to be bold and leverage every tool available like the NDA and updated zoning.”
Hemmerick provides assistance to towns interested in pursuing an NDA and encourages communities to apply for the state’s streamlined bylaw modernization grants that are due November 15.
The VLS’ faculty and student work has been funded by the Vermont Bar Foundation as part of the IEE’s Relieving Energy Poverty Though Community Redevelopment Project.
For more information, please contact Jenny Carter (firstname.lastname@example.org, 802-399-9219), Jacob Hemmerick (email@example.com, 802-828-5249) or Josh Jerome (firstname.lastname@example.org, 802-728-5433 x13). Visit the state NDA website here.