The designated area encompasses the civic and commercial heart of Warren village. Thanks to this designation, owners of many commercial and rental properties in the village will now be eligible to apply for state tax credits to help them make certain improvements to their buildings.
In addition, the designation sets the stage for encouraging the construction of well-designed, moderately priced new homes in Warren. Communities with designated village centers are eligible to apply for Vermont Neighborhoods program, a separate state initiative that offers financial and regulatory incentives for the construction of compact new residential neighborhoods. Now that Warren has a designated village center, it is beginning work on a Vermont Neighborhoods application as well.
"Housing affordability is a major issue in the Mad River Valley, and the Warren Planning Commission is being proactive about providing more options for moderate-income residents," said Noelle MacKay, director of Smart Growth Vermont, a statewide nonprofit organization that helps communities address growth issues.
The town has been working with Smart Growth Vermont since early 2008 to identify and implement strategies for making housing more affordable.
These designations are just one piece of a broad-based approach to affordability, explained Warren Zoning Administrator Miron Malboeuf.
"We don't want our kids to be priced out of Warren, so we're doing everything we can to reduce the cost of housing," he said.
In addition to village center and Vermont neighborhood designation, the town is reducing minimum lot sizes in the village and streamlining the permit application process.
"Warren is a real town, with people of all kinds of backgrounds living here," Malboeuf said. "We want to use sound community planning to keep it that way."
For more information about Smart Growth Vermont, visit their website at www.smartgrowthvermont.org.