Moretown Town Hall

After the Moretown Planning Commission presented information about a state program that would unlock funding for greater village wastewater capacity, making housing development less challenging in the future, the Moretown Select Board encouraged the commissioners to consider pursuing it.



Amy Tomasso, the community planning and project manager for the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD), presented information about the state’s Neighborhood Development Area (NDA) program at the select board’s January 2 meeting.

The NDA program incentivizes towns to develop housing in compact, walkable areas – reducing pressure to develop rural farmlands and forests. It provides special permit and tax incentives for developers who commit to building mixed-income housing within and adjacent to downtowns, village centers, new town centers and growth centers. The program, Tomasso said, can create “beautiful, inhabitable neighborhoods.” 

The state has been promoting a development pattern of compact centers surrounded by rural landscape since the 1970s, according to ACCD’s website.

Specifically, under an NDA designation, mixed-income housing projects may be exempt from land use regulations under Act 250. Other benefits include exemptions from the land gains tax, municipalities receiving priority consideration for state grants, tax credits for piloted downtown areas and village centers, and others.

In the past seven years, the NDA program has facilitated the construction of over 2,700 housing units across the state, saving an average of $50,000 in state permit fees per project and reducing project time to an average of seven months.

But incentives for housing development would come as a kind of secondary benefit for Moretown, Tomasso said. What’s more relevant for the town is that the program

would unlock funding to create greater wastewater capacity through the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and make it easier for the town to obtain permits for installation. Increasing the feasibility of housing development would come much later.


Moretown has been exploring the possibility of designing an in-ground wastewater system for the town – primarily to address water quality. The town is currently involved in a feasibility study, working with Otter Creek Engineering to understand their options.

Tomasso presented a geographic area for the potential development of wastewater systems and housing. It spans the northern portion of Moretown in addition to parts of Waterbury and Duxbury. According to ACCD, eligible areas must extend a quarter-mile from village centers and new town centers, and a half-mile from downtowns and areas with designated growth centers.

Even when collaborating, each town would submit their own application – “definitely a big lift,” Tomasso said, adding that towns might want to designate a formal project manager to oversee the process.

There are currently 17 NDAs in the state, with five new areas and the expansion of four existing areas in 2023. Some of these include areas in Berlin, Montpelier, Middlebury, Hinesburg, and Putney. Tomasso said that none of the existing NDAs involve multiple towns.