County hazard mitigation plan available for review and comment

The Chittenden County Multi-Jurisdictional All-Hazards Mitigation Plan draft is available for review and comment.

The plan proposes the following six regional mitigation strategies to be carried out by the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission in partnership with its member municipalities and others:

  • assist municipalities with development of plans, policies and land development regulations,
  • promote municipal participation in development and implementation of tactical basin plans,
  • assist municipalities to develop and improve infrastructure,
  • assist municipalities in protecting people, building and facilities where development already exists,
  • assist municipalities in promoting growth in appropriate locations and in transportation infrastructure planning, and
  • assist municipalities in meeting standards to minimize required municipal share towards FEMA public assistance project costs.

Chris Davis, Charlotte’s emergency management director, said this mitigation plan is an excellent tool because it forces every community to review a list of potential hazards and plans to deal with them at least every five years. “The checklist covers the spectrum of potential hazards from crime, epidemics, weather events and natural disasters to transportation-related hazards and the status of infrastructure such as bridges,” Davis said.

During the review process a team of municipal partners has to assess the potential for various events happening and assign scores to aid in determining the probability of those events occurring to aid in planning for them, Davis said.

“This process helps to raise local awareness of the issues on the checklist, and that also helps with local planning and prioritizing time and/or money being spent to deal with the higher priority issues or events,” he said.

Davis described some of the updates that have occurred in Charlotte’s 2011 hazard mitigation plan and the new 2016 draft plan. They include adding more detail for weather-related events and the potential for related damage and issues such as flooding and soil erosion, updating the risk assessments for a host of potential hazards, adding language to reflect the concern for road and especially rail transportation of hazardous materials through the town and the impact that this could represent if an incident occurs, and changing the hazard score to reflect a change in railroad activity, particularly the potential for long-term storage of large quantities of hazardous materials on the rail siding at Ferry Road.

“We may look at the score again because, following our review in 2015, Vermont Rail Systems received an EPA permit to store up to 1.2 million gallons of propane in rail cars on the passing siding at Ferry Road within a half mile of the West Village center,” Davis said.

The update plan for Charlotte is a federal and state requirement and quite useful, as it helps direct local and state planning efforts to address issues that rise to the top of the hazard scoring matrix, Davis said. The plan is adapted as necessary to reflect changes (natural or driven by human activities) locally, regionally and globally that can have a negative impact on a community.

“It is a helpful planning tool and often leads to greater community awareness,” he said.