MONTPELIER, Vt. The state has awarded nearly $438,000 in Municipal Planning Grants to communities across the state to help them plan for future growth and development. Governor Jim Douglas announced the Municipal Planning Grants Wednesday, which range from projects to update town plans and bylaws to funding downtown and village revitalization studies. These grants support the planning activities that are at the heart of smart growth, Douglas said. These investments will help promote economic and housing development in our downtowns and village centers, while protecting Vermont s working landscape.The Municipal and Regional Planning Fund was first established in 1988, and now offers grants of up to $15,000 to help Vermont municipalities develop their town plans and to conduct special planning projects.Through a competitive process, 40 Vermont towns across the state were awarded funds for a diverse collection of planning projects. The vast majority of the projects this year are traditional planning activities such as updating town plans, maps and zoning bylaws.However, there are also several downtown and village revitalization projects, including a study of pedestrian improvements in St Johnsbury, transportation and redevelopment planning for Merchants Row in Barre, an infrastructure and development plan for St Albans, and a master plan for School Street in Wolcott.The St. Johnsbury grant will fund a study on the adequacy and safety of pedestrian crosswalks on Main Street and in the Main Street Historic District. St. Johnsbury s downtown has made an amazing comeback since the fire that destroyed the Daniels Block in 2000, Douglas said. New shops and residences are bringing commercial vitality back, and this study will help improve pedestrian access.The $15,000 grant to the City of Barre will provide assistance to create new parking and traffic plans for the Merchants Row/Enterprise Alley space just off Main Street. Merchants Row is an important part of Barre s downtown, providing access and parking for not only Main Street merchants but for City Hall and the Barre Opera House, Douglas said.In St. Albans, a $15,000 grant will pay for a consultant to draft a Master Plan that will guide future development and infrastructure needs such as streets, sidewalks, bike paths, utilities, and parks. The people of St. Albans will be able to craft a plan that will continue to revitalize their downtown, which is an important center for commercial and residential activity in Franklin County, Douglas said. These grants support the work of Vermont s towns and the volunteers who serve on panels like planning commissions and development review boards, said Tayt Brooks, Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Housing and Community Affairs. Their work is the foundation of our shared success.The Department of Housing and Community Affairs is part of the Vermont Agency of Commerce & Community Development. For more information please visit: http://www.dhca.state.vt.us/Planning/MPG.htm(link is external)FY2009 Municipal Planning Grant Program Award List: $437,720Addison County Regional Planning Commission: $35,225Town of Bristol: Zoning and/or Subdivision Bylaw Update — $13,125 Implementation of a newly completed Town Plan including complete review of all existing zoning districts, update of zoning bylaws, creation of new maps, and consideration of subdivision regulations all with as much public input as possible.Town of New Haven: Municipal Plan Update — $6,600 Completes the Town Plan Update that was partially funded in the last round.Town of Orwell: Zoning and/or Subdivision Bylaw Update — $7,500 The project reviews and revises the Land Use Regulations, encompass both zoning and subdivisions regulations, in preparation for Village Center Designation.Town of Shoreham: Municipal Plan Update — $8,000 Grant fund will support the Town Plan updateBennington County Regional Commission: $29,990Town of Bennington: Municipal Plan Update — $14,990 Hire the RPC to update Bennington Town Plan and conduct extensive public outreach.Town of Sandgate: Municipal Plan — $15,000 Grant fund will support the Town Plan update.Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission: $37,500City of Barre: Barre City Merchants Row/Enterprise Alley Planning — $15,000 Grant provides professional assistance to create new parking, circulation, and other use plans for the underused Merchants Row/Enterprise Alley space.Town of Plainfield: Municipal Plan Update — $7,500 Grant funds will hire a consultant to assist with the creation of a new town plan based on new surveys and outreach.Town of Waitsfield: Municipal Plan Update — $15,000 Underwrites professional Town Plan assistance to update and analyze the socio-economic and transportation data and coordinate extensive public outreach.Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission: $41,240Town of Hinesburg: Municipal Plan Update — $10,400 Hire a consultant to adapt the plan to account for accomplishments and new priorities since last revised in 2005, address the evolving Greenspace Plan, and share the plan as user-friendly on-line product.Town of Richmond: Zoning and/or Subdivision Bylaw Update — $9,770 This project will result in updates to the zoning and subdivision regulations to conform with the 2007 Richmond Town PlanCity of South Burlington: Municipal Plan Update — $8,000 The City will complete the upgrade and revision of its Comprehensive Plan focusing on Future Land Use, “Grey” Infrastructure, Energy Planning, and Goals & Policies, with significant public input.Town of Underhill: Zoning and/or Subdivision Bylaw Update — $13,070 Publicize and conduct public forums and public hearings on preliminary and final drafts of unified bylaws. Hire a consultant to facilitate forums and hearings and prepare preliminary and final documents.Lamoille County Planning Commission: $21,400Town of Belvidere: Municipal Plan Update — $7,450 This project will update and revise the Belvidere Municipal Plan. The current plan was adopted in 2005 and will expire on May 5, 2010.Town of Wolcott: Other — $13,950 Hire a consultant who will, through public outreach and professional guidance, develop a plan for School Street to help this area develop into a new village core for Wolcott connecting new facilities with existing ones.Northeastern Vermont Development Association: $59,060Town of Danville: Zoning and/or Subdivision Bylaw Update — $14,720 Financial assistance to develop a detailed land use plan that will serve as the framework for new implementation strategies (regulatory and non-regulatory) that protect the town’s rural character.City of Newport: Zoning and/or Subdivision Bylaw — $15,000 Revise the Newport City Bylaw-specifically for the Downtown/Main street Commercial Core District.Town of St. Johnsbury: Other — $14,340 Hire a consultant to study the adequacy and safety of pedestrian crosswalks on Main Street and Main Street Historic District.Town of Troy: Zoning and/or Subdivision Bylaw Update — $15,000 Hire consultant to rewrite the zoning bylaws for consistency with the new town plan and compliance with Chapter 117 requirements.Northwest Regional Planning Commission: $41,150Town of Berkshire: Municipal Plan Update — $10,300 Hire the RPC to assist with the update to the Berkshire Town Plan, including a strong public participation component.Town of Fairfax: Zoning and/or Subdivision Bylaw Update — $10,850 Hire the RPC to work with Town on a revision to the Zoning Bylaws and Subdivision Regulations for consistency with Town Plan.City of St. Albans: Other — $15,000 Hire a consultant to create a Master Plan that will guide future development and infrastructure needs (streets, sidewalks, bike paths, utilities, lighting, parks, water/sewer, etc.).Town of Swanton: Municipal Plan Update — $5,000 Hire the RPC to update the 2005 Swanton Municipal Plan with current data and analysis and solicit new community input on municipal goals and policiesRutland Regional Planning Commission: $43,705Town of Castleton: Municipal Plan Update — $14,980 Complete the update of the Town Plan including an extensive economic development element, a comprehensive public involvement program, and revision of goals, objectives and strategies.Town of Chittenden: Municipal Plan — $15,000 Grant funding will assist the update of the Chittenden Town Plan, including a strong public participation component.Town of Mt. Holly: Zoning and/or Subdivision Bylaw Update — $13,725 Revise the 1998 Subdivision Regulation for compliance with the 2008 Mount Holly Town Plan and to ensure that are legally enforceable.Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission: $23,400Town of Springfield: Municipal Plan Update — $7,700 Town Plan update.Town of West Windsor: Municipal Plan Update — $8,700 The Planning Commission will update current Town Plan maps, and the following chapters to its Town Plan: Energy, Housing, and Economic Development, with strategic updates to Natural Resources and Future Land Use.Town of Windsor: Zoning and/or Subdivision Bylaw Update — $7,000 Update of the Windsor Zoning Bylaws.Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission: $61,750Town of Norwich: Municipal Plan Update — $12,800 Preparation and public review of the final draft of a new comprehensive town plan based on several years of research, public surveys, and public workshops. The project includes the plan, maps, and graphics.Town of Pittsfield: Municipal Plan Update — $13,100 The Town, with assistance from the Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission will revise the Pittsfield Town Plan to reflect resident’s vision for the future.Town of Randolph: Municipal Plan Update — $15,000 The project will revise the Town Plan, paying special attention to the downtown and village areas.Town of Rochester: Zoning and/or Subdivision Bylaw Update — $7,075 This project will bring Rochester’s 1976 Subdivision Regulations into compliance with the Town Plan.Town of Sharon: Municipal Plan Update — $7,775 This project will update the town plan, focusing on the utilities and facilities, transportation, and energy sections.Town of Strafford: Municipal Plan Update — $6,000 The Town, with assistance from the Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission will revise the Strafford Town Plan to reflect resident’s vision for the future.Windham Regional Commission: $43,300Town of Dummerston: Zoning and/or Subdivision Bylaw Update — $6,500 Hire professional planners to assist the Dummerston Planning Commission in a comprehensive rewrite of the existing Zoning Bylaw.Town of Guilford: Zoning and/or Subdivision Bylaw — $7,550 The grant underwrites technical assistance and public outreach to help the planning commission draft new Zoning Bylaws.Town of Readsboro: Municipal Plan Update — $11,250 Underwrites technical assistance for the rewrite of the Readsboro Town Plan focusing on writing clear policies, village revitalization, and wind energy.Town of Rockingham: Municipal Plan Update — $3,000 The project would update the Town Plan maps.Town of Wilmington: Municipal Plan Update — $15,000 Town Plan Update in general concentrating effort on land use, energy, housing, economic development, recreation and implementation sections.
Efren O’Brien poses with his dog Beau in West End, Brisbane on Friday, September 7, 2018. Mr O’Brien is a first time property buyer. (AAP Image/Claudia Baxter)A REDUCTION in the Queensland First Home Owners Grant has done little to deter those looking to make their leap on to the property ladder.National data from the ABS shows that the number of finance approvals for first home buyers is now at its highest level in eight years.In Queensland, the number of finance approvals has increased by almost 10 per cent — proof that first time buyers are not afraid to buy a home with or without the state grant.The grant, which only applies to new builds up to $750,000, dropped from $20,000 to $15,000 on July 1.REA Group chief economist Nerida Conisbee said while the number of finance approvals for investors and upgraders had dropped, first home buyers were bucking the trend.“We are now seeing the highest level of first home buyers since 2010,” she said.She pointed to two suburbs within reach of first home buyers — Albion, which has a median house price of $750,000 and Tugun on the Gold Coast, where the median house sales price is $647,000.But there is even more value in the Brisbane market, with Rocklea boasting the lowest median house sales price within 10km of the city, according to data from realestate.com.auThe ‘high demand suburb’ has a median sales price of $415,000 and records about three times the number of searches per property compared to the national average.A newly renovated four bedroom house is on the market for $399,000 — well below the overall Brisbane median house sales price of $535,000. Other top spots for first homebuyer budgets within 10km of the city are Keperra, Tingalpa, Everton Hills and Chermside.A three bedroom ‘fixer upper’ at Everton Hills is on the market for $450,000, and sits on a 615sq m block. The median house sales price for Everton Hills is $558,000, according to CoreLogic.Shirley Mapp of Re/Max Premier Consultants Chermside said she was seeing a lot of activity from first home buyers in the area. “At $450,000, that is great value if you can see its potential,” she said.Ms Mapp said first home buyers were pushing up prices in family-friendly suburbs such as Everton Hills, which had traditionally been held for many years.More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus16 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market16 hours agoShe said Baby Boomers whose children had left home were now moving on, opening the way for first home buyers to enter the market.For those happy to commute a few extra kilometres, big savings can also be found at Riverview, Ebbw Vale, Gailes, Dinmore and East Ipswich, where existing houses have a median sales price under $275,000 within 30km of the CBD.First homebuyer Efrem O’Brien purchased a one-bedroom apartment in Stockwell’s Muse apartments in West End after renting in Sydney. Efren O’Brien bought his first home at Muse, West End. (AAP Image/Claudia Baxter)“I moved back up after being offered a position with Queensland Ballet and my job is only about 100m away,” he said.“I lived with my parents at first so it is nice having my own space again.“I am paying less on my mortgage now than I was paying in rent in Sydney.” Andrew Russell, who is the executive general manager at realestate.com.au Home Loans, said they were seeing more confidence from first home buyers.“Have a clear budget in mind that takes into consideration your lifestyle, allows enough of a buffer, and ensures you’re not over committing yourself,” he said. “This is particularly important with interest rate rises on the horizon for most Australian banks”. Fast track buying a home – check out Moneysaver HQ in Monday’s Courier Mail.