MRVPD – March News!

March News

We at the MRVPD are excited to share a few recent updates regarding current & past projects happening here in the Mad River Valley!

Waitsfield Community Wastewater Project

In January, the Town of Waitsfield and MRVPD presented the latest funding strategy for the  ~ $15 million Waitsfield Community Wastewater Project to the Waitsfield Selectboard. They discussed plans to cover $12.6 million through Federal and State grants, with the remaining $2.4 million to be financed through a USDA Rural Development low-interest loan, ensuring the project proceeds with little to no financial impact on Waitsfield taxpayers, akin to the successful model of Waitsfield’s municipal water system.

To capitalize on current funding opportunities, the Town of Waitsfield will have a special June 11th ballot asking residents to approve a bond to build a wastewater collection, treatment, and disposal system to serve Irasville & Waitsfield Village. If approved, this bond vote will allow the Town to pursue additional grant funding but does not commit the community to move forward with the project. An affirmative vote is vital, not just for project funding, but to fulfill the project’s hope of zero taxpayer impact while providing affordable user rates. This approach underscores the town’s commitment to sustainable, cost-effective infrastructure development, ensuring Waitsfield’s long-term viability and environmental health.

MRVPD staff have also been working with Waitsfield town staff to revamp the project’s website and develop engaging materials for wider public outreach. These efforts aim to clarify the project’s goals and galvanize community backing ahead of the crucial bond vote. To find more info, visit:

Small Grants for Smart Growth

To help support the communication & outreach portion of the Waitsfield Community Wastewater Project, MRVPD worked with the Town of Waitsfield to submit an application to the Vermont Natural Resource Council’s (VNRC) Small Grants for Smart Growth program on January 15th. This year’s grant round was a special collaboration between VNRC and the Preservation Trust of Vermont (PTV).

The program offers grants of up to $5,000 for communities seeking to build momentum toward flood-resilient community development; in Waitsfield’s case, a municipal wastewater system.

On February 22nd, 2024, VNRC & PTV awarded the Town of Waitsfield $5,000 to assist with the communication and outreach efforts for its Waitsfield Community Wastewater Project! All funds awarded from this application will go towards developing materials to help conduct a comprehensive community engagement process, educate residents about the project’s motivation, and provide an opportunity to receive community feedback.

The Waitsfield Community Wastewater Project is committed to inclusively engaging the public, emphasizing access for all community members. Recognizing the diverse ways in which individuals receive and process information, the outreach strategy is multifaceted. The project team plans to implement a mix of traditional (e.g., mailings) and innovative digital methods (e.g., social media & video).

The funding from this grant will ensure that the town captures input from a wide range of community members by allowing for multiple avenues of communication.

Thank you to the Vermont Natural Resource Council and Preservation Trust of Vermont for this opportunity.

Waitsfield Neighborhood Development Area Designation

Earlier this year, the Waitsfield Planning Commission and the Mad River Valley Planning District (MRVPD) worked on an application to establish a Neighborhood Development Area (NDA) designation for portions of the Irasville Village District (IVD) & Village Residential District (VRD) in Waitsfield. Neighborhood Development Area Designations are granted by the VT Agency of Commerce & Community Development (ACCD). The program encourages municipalities and/or developers to plan for new and infill housing in areas within walking distance to designated downtowns, village centers, new town centers, or within designated growth centers. This designation program increases housing options by reducing the time and cost of state permitting in areas within easy walking distance of commercial centers — whether converting a wing of a house into an apartment or developing an entirely new neighborhood.

This initiative aligns with Waitsfield’s vision to transform these areas into vibrant, pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use hubs, as outlined in the 2023 Waitsfield Town Plan. The Neighborhood Development Area designation will augment several recent planning initiatives in Waitsfield regarding smart growth, infrastructure development, bylaw modernization, and land use planning. Two recent efforts to help realize this vision include modernizing zoning bylaws to support denser, village-style development and the development of a municipal wastewater system to mitigate existing community health concerns and accommodate future housing needs.

MRVPD staff assisted the town with drafting the NDA application and developed over fifteen maps to help determine the bounds of the Proposed NDA while remaining in compliance with the guidelines set out by the ACCD.

The push for NDA designation is supported by the 2020 Mad River Valley Housing Demand & Market Analysis, which identified a significant unmet housing need within the identified zoning districts. This designation is expected to facilitate mixed-income housing development, offering permit, and tax incentives to encourage growth within the designated areas.

The collaboration between Waitsfield, MRVPD, and community stakeholders exemplifies a strategic approach to community development, leveraging state programs and local planning initiatives to foster a sustainable future for the Mad River Valley.

Short-Term Rental Monitoring

In October 2023, the Warren Planning Commission requested MRVPD assistance in exploring options for gaining a more complete understanding of STRs within their community. In response, MRVPD staff explored, interviewed, analyzed, and is now communicating options for undertaking such an effort. The findings of this study were developed into a formal memo which was distributed to Warren to help its decision-making process when selecting an appropriate STR monitoring solution. While Warren served as the impetus to undertake this work, the findings apply to all three MRVPD towns.

MRVPD is committed to continuing to support the MRV towns and is excited to explore opportunities to assist in their future STR efforts. While certain community-wide goals have been identified, each town must consider its role in understanding the overall Mad River Valley short-term rental market, as well as what platform would suit those goals best.

Warren’s journey to addressing short-term rentals is a testament to how collective efforts can lead to meaningful outcomes: identify a community goal and leverage the MRVPD as a resource. This example illustrates the strength of community and MRVPD partnerships, inviting towns to see the value in such collaborations for effectively achieving their goals.