Sustainable Communities Technical Assistance

In late 2010, Shelburne applied for and was selected to receive support from the Sustainable Communities Building Blocks program. Administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the program offers communities help on a specific development-related challenge as well as exposes them to general sustainable communities strategies. Shelburne is one of only 20 communities nationally identified through a competitive process to participate in the program.  

In early June, noted attorney and author Christopher Duerksen of Clarion Associates came to Shelburne to provide that assistance. Duerksen’s visit provided residents with an opportunity to learn about and potentially shape local policies relating to sustainable development.  

Duerksen is the author of Takings Law in Plain English; Aesthetics, Community Character, and the Law; True West: Authentic Development Patterns for Small Towns and Rural Areas; and Nature Friendly Communities. His firm, Clarion Associates, has offices throughout the country.  

Duerksen’s visit began on Monday evening June 6 with an interactive discussion with members of the broader Shelburne community. Topics of discussion included mixed-use development, housing opportunity, and preservation of natural resources. Participation by a wide range of Shelburne residents was strongly encouraged. The discussion was intended to bring neighbors closer together while learning how to collectively solve many of the issues in the community.  

The following day, June 7, Duerksen met with Planning Commissioners, the Selectboard, and others to identify, clarify, and develop responses to important land use issues. These sessions were held at the Shelburne Town Offices. At the end of his visit Duerksen offered a series of preliminary recommendations. Additional recommendations may be included in a brief follow up report Town staff expects to be provided to the community. 

Sustainable Design Assessment Team
In late December, Shelburne was selected to participate in the 2011 Sustainable Design Assessment Team (SDAT) program sponsored by the American Institute of Architects (AIA). This honor comes on the heels of being selected by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a Sustainable Communities Building Blocks Award. According to the AIA’s web site,

The SDAT program is a community assistance program that focuses on the principles of sustainability. SDATs bring teams of volunteer professionals (such as architects, urban designers, landscape architects, planners, hydrologists, economists, attorneys, and others) to work with community decision-makers and stakeholders to help them develop a vision and framework for a sustainable future.

Shelburne was one of only seven communities nationally selected for this distinction. Work on the project is being guided by a Steering Committee chaired by Planning Commissioner Kate Lalley.

In late May, a team from AIA came to Shelburne for a preliminary visit. The head of the SDAT Team, Harris Steinberg, FAIA, toured Shelburne with members of the Steering Committee and met with representatives of the Route 7 business community as well as local officials. The Team returned to Shelburne in October 2011, conducting meetings with the public throughout the day on October 17th and offering recommendations on October 19th.

As noted in an article in the Burlington Free Press, recommendations made by the team include the following:

• Create a corridor-wide Business Improvement District.

Capture tourist dollars through a meals and rooms tax (according to the team, Shelburne could raise as much as $2.1 million dollars a year for community and marketing use).

Hire a corridor manager.

Create an economic development plan.

Create development standards and guidelines.

Create strategic partnerships.

Leverage assets and secure funding.

During the presentation made at Shelburne historic Town Hall, members of the team also encouraged the Town to improve marketing, preserve open space, and enhance the ease with which the corridor can be traveled by people on foot or bicycle.