Smart Growth


Smart growth describes a pattern of land development that uses land efficiently, reinforces community vitality and protects natural resources. Smart Growth is about promoting development that is good for the economy, community and the environment. Key benefits of smart growth include the creation of diverse housing options; protection of farm and forest land; diverse transportation options and less dependence on the automobile; greater social interaction with neighbors; lower cost for public services resulting in reduced taxes; and a higher quality of life. [Excerpt from Smart Growth Vermont website]

For most of Vermont’s history, our downtown and village centers have been the heart of our communities, housing much of our population and serving as civic and economic centers. The state’s character and sense of place is defined by our urban/rural balance – the diversity of compact downtowns and village centers with easy access to nearby farms and the natural environment.

HFI recognizes the importance and value of developing a Smart Growth project.  Whether a single building or a larger community, we endeavor to adhere to Smart Growth principles by providing a mix of uses where possible including housing, retail and office space, transportation options, land conservation, historic preservation and the proximity to recreational amenities that encourage walking, biking, and the active use of parks.

How individual Cities, Towns, and Villages plan for and manage land use and development will determine Vermont’s economic, social and environmental well-being. Sprawl has many adverse impacts on the quality of our individual lives and the health of our communities. These include:

Loss of sense of place and community decline resulting in:

Fragmented and dispersed communities and a decline in social interaction
Isolation of some populations, such as the poor and elderly
Increased energy consumption

Higher individual and community costs resulting from:

Increase in automobile dependency, fuel consumption, and air pollution
Increased commuting times and costs that results in more time in our cars and less time for family, friends, community and recreation
Reduced opportunity for public transportation services
Increase in health problems in children and adults due to sedentary life style

Decline in Community Vitality:

Decline in economic and fiscal viability of existing community centers due to a loss of share of retail sales to malls and big-boxes
Vacant buildings
Lower property values
Loss of basic goods and services for residents
Abandoned public investment – delivering services to far-flung developments is not cost-effective and past and existing investment in urban and village centers is wasted.

Reduced Economic Opportunity:

Poorly-planned, scattered development costs taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars to support inefficient and over-built infrastructure
Excessive public costs for roads and utility line extensions and service delivery to dispersed development
Decline in economic opportunity in traditional centers
Premature disinvestment in existing buildings, facilities and services in urban and village centers
Relocation of jobs to peripheral areas far from population centers
Decline in the number of jobs in some sectors, such as retail
Isolation of employees from activity centers, homes, daycare and schools
Reduced ability to finance public services in urban centers
Loss of farmland – so key to state’s history and rural economy

Diminished Environmental Quality:

Fragmentation of open space and wildlife habitat
Loss of productive farmland and forestland
Decline in water quality from increased urban runoff, shoreline development and loss of wetlands
Inability to capitalize on unique cultural, historic and public space resources (such as waterfronts) in urban and village centers

HFI strives to build “age friendly” communities using Smart Growth principles to become healthier places to grow old in – and a better place for people of all ages.