Home News and Features City News A Message from City Hall: Springing Into 2024

A Message from City Hall: Springing Into 2024

Photo by Carla Occaso.
It wouldn’t be March in Vermont without the promise of spring just around the corner. The switch back to daylight saving time reminds us of the changing seasons and of brighter days ahead. 

There’s a lot to look forward to as we enter into the second quarter of 2024. Here’s a look ahead at some of the current projects and recent developments that will continue on in 2024.

Town Meeting Day Results

On March 5, our city elected a new City Council member for District 1. We welcomed Council Member Adrienne Gil at her first City Council meeting on Wednesday, March 13. At this time of transition, we thank outgoing District 1 Council Member Dona Bate for her many years of service to the city of Montpelier and for her tireless dedication to advancing initiatives in the best interest of our community. We also extend our congratulations to Mayor McCullough and Council Members Sal Alfano and Cary Brown on their reelections.

City Budget Passed

Voters also approved the FY24 city budget. The budget passed with a 71.4% approval vote, which is slightly lower than last year’s 74.3%. The budget is the most important policy document in the city because it sets the parameters in which we work to serve our community. Watch the FY25 budget videos on the city’s YouTube channel to see what’s inside each department’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Go to youtube.com/playlist?list=PLBcpzCS9hfyiqrK9vtb3sdlA5XCbFYhUn to watch the videos.

Eclipse on April 8

There will be a total eclipse of the sun on Monday, April 8 at 3:25 p.m. Montpelier is in the path of “totality” and will be completely dark for about two minutes. Experience in other communities shows that many people — in the thousands — will visit cities in the eclipse path. 

The state is aware and making statewide preparations. Montpelier Alive and a city team are working on local plans including safety, sanitation, viewing locations, etc. More to come on this as the date gets closer. Visit montpelieralive.com/eclipse for the most recent updates on goings-on in Montpelier before, during, and after the eclipse.  

 Country Club Road 

As we prepare for the next phase of site development, we’re continuing to engage our state partners on the processes that have developed this year. These processes include zoning changes, amending our growth center designation, and creating a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district. 

In January, we engaged with Efficiency Vermont to explore how to design the site so that it minimizes fossil fuel usage. We also sought input regarding the best way to collaborate with various future developers that we anticipate will participate in the build-out. There is still a lot of work to be done, but this is an important component of future work that we will have to consider as this project evolves. 

The city is proposing to change the current zoning of the property to Urban Residential 1 so that we can be as flexible as possible to future developers of the land. The current zoning would not allow for the construction of housing and recreational opportunities that were identified in the Phase 1 Community Engagement stage. To move forward as planned, the zoning regulations would need to be amended to allow for new development. The fourth public hearing on these zoning changes will be held at the City Council Meeting on April 3.  

As the current property owner, we (the City) want to be as flexible as possible to allow the creation of affordable, resilient housing on that property to progress unencumbered. Since the city owns the property, it can steer the direction of future development to what will benefit community members the most. 

Flood mitigation efforts for properties in the floodplain can be expensive and laborious. Building new units outside of the floodplain is critical to the long-term resilience of the city and its residents. Every housing unit built outside the path of destructive flood waters is an investment in future cost-savings and peace of mind for homeowners. 

Flood Recovery FEMA Funding

The City’s Planning Department is developing a portfolio of structural elevation and floodproofing projects for submission to FEMA for both the Swift Current and Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funding rounds. Elevating and floodproofing projects help protect homes and residents from future flood events and increase the community’s resilience against climate change. 

If you are a residential or commercial property owner who is interested in elevating or floodproofing their properties, you may qualify for funding through one of FEMA’s flood mitigation programs. Residential wooden structures along or near river corridors may be prime candidates for structural elevation projects while masonry commercial structures may be prime candidates for floodproofing measures. 

Most FEMA projects require a 25% project cost share, but if you are an NFIP-insured property and classified as a Repetitive Loss or Severe Repetitive Loss property, you may qualify for a reduced cost share. 

Interested in this program? Reach out to Josh Jerome in the Planning Department by March 25 at jjerome@montpelier-vt.org.  

Water Line Inventory

The city contracted with MSK Engineers to complete an inventory of water service lines in the municipal water system. Service lines are the pipes that connect individual buildings to drinking water distribution mains. New State regulations require every community water system in the country to prepare a service line inventory. These inventories must classify pipe materials for every service line connected to the water system. 

The inventory seeks to identify whether pipes are made of lead or galvanized service materials. Water services that are found to contain lead will be eligible for grant-funded replacement under a subsequent project.

Water line inventories are now underway in all three of Montpelier’s districts. MSK engineers are making steady progress and are on track to meet the October 2024 deadline of completion. 

Water Line Improvement Plan

City Council approved the Water Line Improvement Plan which will kickstart a 10-year plan to replace water line infrastructure in the most critical need of repair. This will be followed by a subsequent 10-year plan to address hydraulic deficiencies within the water system. 

The Water System Hydraulic Analysis performed in 2023 by Dufresne Group, PC, found the scheduled replacement of aging infrastructure to be the most cost-effective way to reduce the frequency of water main breaks when compared to an evaluation of alternatives for reducing system pressures. You can see the entire water line replacement schedule on the Public Works page of the City’s website.

Thank you for your interest in Montpelier City Government. Contact me at wfraser@montpelier-vt.org or 802-223-9502 with any questions or comments.