Progress / Science

Online Mapping for River Management in Chittenden County

The Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission (CCRPC) has been a long time partner with the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) in promoting the science behind Fluvial Erosion Hazard (FEH) assessments and river corridors.

Starting in the mid-2000s, many entities including ANR, the University of Vermont, the CCRPC and local watershed organizations have carried out Phase II stream geomorphic assessments on more than 460 stream reaches throughout the County.

Several towns, notably Jericho, Hinesburg and Westford have incorporated FEH corridors (equivalent to what are currently defined in statute as a “River Corridor Protection Area”) into their local zoning bylaws. The CCRPC has also promoted the fact that most all of its municipalities have long had “setbacks” or “buffers” in their zoning bylaws that prohibit development near streams, typically a 50 ft. to 100 ft. setback.

In addition to buffers, most towns also regulate 100-year floodplains, as mapped by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Since 2012, ANR has been promoting the protection of River Corridors which adds a buffer to FEH areas. More information on science, policy, and state regulations protecting River Corridors may be found at http://floodready.vermont.gov/rcfaq.

To help its municipalities figure out the best approach and options for river management, CCRPC has created an online map at http://map.ccrpcvt.org/rivercorrplanning/.  This map enables town staff and citizens to quickly assess whether their current regulations adequately protect homes and businesses or whether new options should be explored.