Announcements / Science

Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission assisting municipalities with River Corridor planning

With funds provided by a Clean Water Initiative Program grant the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission (CCRPC) has been assisting the Town of Westford and the City of South Burlington with seeking to incorporate River Corridor protection language in their respective land use development regulations or zoning bylaws.

In the case of Chittenden County, this process is both strengthened and made more complex by the fact that most every municipality in the county already has a combination of floodplain district (aka “the 100-year flood zone or Special Flood Hazard Area”) coupled with some sort of stream buffer that overlaps to varying degrees with the state-recommend River Corridor. In the case of the Town of Westford, in addition to mapped floodplain along the Browns River and its major tributaries, the Town also has a Water Resources Overlay District (WRO district) to protect natural geomorphological processes, ecosystems and biological diversity; maintain Westford’s rural character, and protect public health, safety and welfare. This WRO is expansive establishing 50 ft. to 100 ft. buffers for every single river, stream, pond, lake and wetland throughout the Town. South Burlington has similar protections already in place in their Land Use Development Regulations. In addition to a floodplain overlay district, the City also has stream, surface water and wetlands protections standards in place as well as standards governing development within 150 ft. of the mean high water level of Lake Champlain.

Both municipalities are supportive of eventually adopting a River Corridor Overlay District as it will further environmental protections and reduce the threat of erosion hazards. To aid these municipalities, CCRPC staff are using the state’s recommended model River Corridor bylaws and then drafting proposed incorporations of this model within select sections of Westford’s and South Burlington’s existing municipal regulations. Additionally, CCRPC GIS staff have created an online River Corridor Protection Interactive Map so that municipal staff and commissions can see in detail to what degree the various existing and proposed regulatory districts overlap or not.

CCRPC anticipates that Westford and South Burlington will both incorporate River Corridor protections into their municipal bylaws by the end of 2019.

For more information, contact Dan Albrecht, CCRPC Senior Planner.