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Better Connections (BC) Program

Grants to Vermont Municipalities for Planning Projects to Improve Transportation, Economic Development, Public Health, and Water Quality

Agency Type:

State

Funding Source:

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Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans), Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD)

Conf. Date:

12/31/18

Deadline Date:

01/31/19 4:00 PM Electronic Receipt and Postmarked by Date

Description:

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Grants to Vermont municipalities to develop plans to enhance transportation options, economic vitality, water quality, and public health in local communities. Applicants must have a pre-application meeting with program staff prior to submitting an application.

By providing resources and state assistance, the Program encourages municipalities to proactively coordinate land use decisions with transportation investments that improve water quality, encourages physical activity, and builds community vitality. The Program works in partnership with municipalities and other stakeholders to accomplish the following objectives

- Provide safe, multi-modal and resilient transportation systems that supports the Vermont economy;
- Support downtown and village economic development and revitalization efforts;
- Lead directly to project implementation.
- Help communities identify and prioritize their goals and projects;
- Develop an action-oriented roadmap to achieve the goals and move projects forward;
- Link the communities to a growing network of public and philanthropic partners to help them implement their priority projects.

Priority consideration will be given to projects that:
1. Are located within (or adjacent to) a state designated downtown, village center, neighborhood development area, new town center or growth center. (To determine if your community has a state designation, visit the Vermont Planning Atlas).
2. Represent inter-municipal efforts.
3. Demonstrate a local commitment to the project (as represented by the commitment of in-kind staff services, an overmatch of local funds, strong
community and partner support (evidenced through letters of support) or complementary local activities or initiatives).
4. Support water quality improvements that reduce nutrient and sediment pollution (by applying for a Clean Water Fund, which follows).

Priority consideration will be given to projects that:
1. Are located within (or adjacent to) a state designated downtown, village center, neighborhood development area, new town center or growth center. (To determine if your community has a state designation, visit the Vermont Planning Atlas).
2. Represent inter-municipal efforts.
3. Demonstrate a local commitment to the project (as represented by the commitment of in-kind staff services, an overmatch of local funds, strong community and partner support (evidenced through letters of support) or complementary local activities or initiatives).

Eligible Projects Program grants are for master planning projects that inform local policy decisions, identify priorities, guide future investment, and facilitate the implementation of projects. Projects should address the program purpose and objectives (page 2) to improve the multimodal transportation system, downtown and village revitalization, and lead to project implementation.

All projects must include an effective community visioning process and robust stakeholder involvement. The program funds various types of master planning for regions, downtowns and villages, neighborhoods, and streets and corridors. See program website for examples or prior projects funded by the Better Connections program.

Master plans are specific in focus and they present a community-driven vision of the physical environment for a region/downtown/village center/neighborhood/corridor for the next 10 years. Master plans engage the community in a process to evaluate ways to enhance their community through improved multimodal connectivity, active transportation and complete streets, access management, traffic calming, parking, wayfinding, rehabilitation of buildings, or redevelopment of sites, housing, land use, stormwater management, and zoning bylaw and form-base code development. In addition to the physical master plan, there can be a corresponding economic and marketing plan to ensure the market viability of the proposed improvements and inform the municipality’s capital planning.

A successful master plan will include an extensive and diverse public engagement process with multiple public meetings, workshops, charrettes, and/or pop-up events. The plans are action-oriented and layout a strategic implementation plan for both short- term and long-term public and private investments in the defined project area.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 176430

Estimated Total Program Funding:

$280,000

Number of Grants:

It is anticipated that the program will fund 3-4 projects per grant cycle.

Estimated Size of Grant:

Awards may range between $35,000 and $67,500. Additionally, the new Clean Water Funds will provide up to $35,000 (with no local match) in “add-on” funding to support clean water and stormwater planning.

Term of Contract:

The Program awards grants on an annual basis. Grantees have twenty-one (21) months for projects to be completed. Grant activities must be completed by December 1, 2020. Invoices must show that grantees have spent or obligated all grant funds and match funds, if applicable, no later than December 1, 2020. Funds that are unused as of December 1, 2020, as well as expenditures that are ineligible or have not been documented, must be returned to VTrans.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Applicants must be a unit of local government (town, city, or village) in Vermont outside of Chittenden County with a confirmed local planning process. To be confirmed, an adopted municipal plan must be approved by December 31, 2018 by the municipality’s Regional Planning Commission (RPC) and the municipality must maintain efforts to provide local funds for municipal and regional planning purposes as required by 24 V.S.A. §4350.

For the purposes of the Program, a municipality is defined by 24 V.S.A §4303 (12). Under this definition an incorporated village is not considered a separate municipality unless the village adopts its own plan and one or more bylaws either before, concurrently with, or subsequent to such action by the town.

Awarded projects must be consistent with the goals of the regional and municipal plan. Inter-municipal efforts are encouraged and multiple municipalities may apply as a consortium. If applying as a consortium, all towns must have a confirmed municipal plan by January 31, 2019. Consortium applications must address a shared issue and identify a lead municipality to administer the project. If applying as a consortium, each town must submit a resolution, designating the same local project manager and showing support from the legislative body of the municipality, such as selectboard, village trustees or city council.

Only one project per municipality can be funded in each grant cycle. If a municipality is awarded funds in the previous grant year, the municipality is not eligible to apply in the next grant cycle.

Municipalities are ineligible to receive funds if they are (a) suspended or debarred by the Federal Government; (b) delinquent in submitting their subrecipient annual reports; or (c) delinquent in submitting their Single Audit Reports (if required).

The Program funds eligible planning activities only. The following are not eligible uses for Program funds:
-Right-of-way acquisition
-Detailed engineering
-Construction
-Land Surveying
-Project Scoping
-Political Activities
-Storm water/sewer system design
-Construction of transportation system facilities
-Capital oriented implementation actions
-Projects inconsistent with the goals of the Municipal or Regional Plan
-Regional Plans and Municipal Plans
-Municipal-wide bylaws and standards
-Municipal and regional planning commission staff time
-Projects located within Chittenden County
-Support plans, bylaws and policies that violate the State or Federal Fair Housing Act. Fair Housing Training is available to all grantees and is encouraged for projects which relate to housing and/or revisions to zoning bylaws.

Program grants and required match can be spent only on “direct project related costs.” Eligible costs include consultant costs, postage, travel, supplies and printing. Equipment purchases and indirect costs, including general administrative overhead, are NOT eligible costs. Costs incurred prior to signing the Program grant agreement with VTrans are NOT eligible project costs.

Pre-proposal Conference:

All applicants are required to contact the Program Managers, Richard Amore and Jackie Cassino, to set up a pre-application meeting.

All pre-application meetings will be conducted by conference call and shall occur prior to December 31, 2018.

VTrans and ACCD staff will conduct a preliminary screening process through a pre-application meeting with the potential applicant.

Pre-Application Information:

The Program provides a total of $200,000 consisting of $180,000 in grant funds and up to $20,000 in local cash match. Grant funds consist of: $160,000 in Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) State Planning and Research Funds; and $20,000 in ACCD funds.

In the 2019 grant cycle, an additional $100,000 has been allocated from the Clean Water Fund to address water quality related planning needs. Each municipality may apply for up to an additional $35,000 (with no local match).

The Program requires a minimum 10% local cash match of the total project cost. Municipalities may not use other federal or state funding sources to cover the local match. If a municipality is awarded an ACCD Municipal Planning Grant in the same state fiscal year, the municipality cannot apply for a Better Connections Program grant.

Applications are due Thursday, January 31, 2019 at 4:00 PM and MUST be submitted BOTH electronically and in hardcopy. Email them to Jackie Cassino.

Also mail or hand-deliver five (5) paper copies of all electronically submitted application materials. Mailed applications must be postmarked by January 31, 2019.

The Program is a reimbursement program. Applicants submit quarterly invoices for completed work and VTrans pays the state and federal share of the total.

Award decisions will be announced by March 15, 2019.

Timeline:
- Program Grant Announcement: November 2, 2018
- Pre-application meeting deadline: December 31, 2018
- RPC confirmation of municipal planning process: January 31, 2019
- Application Deadline: January 31, 2019 at 4:00 PM.
- Award Decisions: March 15, 2019
- Project Started: June 3, 2019
- Project Completed: December 1, 2020
- Final Report Due: December 31, 2020

Vermont Planning Atlas: http://maps.vermont.gov/ACCD/PlanningAtlas/index.html?viewer=PlanningAtlas

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Jackie Cassino, Planning Coordinator
VT Agency of Transportation
Policy and Planning
1 National Life Drive
Montpelier, VT 05633
802.272.2368
jackie.cassino@vermont.gov

Richard Amore, Planning & Project Manager
Community Planning + Revitalization
Agency of Commerce and Community Development
802.828.5229
richard.amore@vermont.gov

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Vermont: Statewide, excluding Chittenden County