Historically, Berlin was a rural town with several small hamlets but without a traditional center. Residents accessed goods and services in the nearby urban and village centers of Montpelier, Barre City and Northfield. Since the construction of Interstate 89, Berlin has grown and the land use pattern in the northeast quadrant has changed dramatically. Yet, the town still lacks an identifiable center.  It is clear from public comments at meetings and on surveys over the years that residents want such a center to create a sense of community, enhance the quality of life, and support economic development in Berlin.

As a result, Berlin has been planning for a town center since the late 1990s. Following the 2004 Berlin Mall Village Center Study and 2007 Draft Conceptual Plan for the Town Center, the town amended its zoning regulations to establish a town center district. The envisioned redevelopment did not materialize, largely as a result of the recession in 2008. In the mid-2010s, however, interest in the town center project re-emerged. The town has adopted further zoning changes that allow for development of a compact, walkable, mixed-use center anchored at the Berlin Mall site that would:

• Reinforce the area as a regional service center;

• Offer higher-density housing;

• Reduce the area devoted to surface parking; and

• Infill undeveloped land, and underutilized parcels and parking lots.

The potential approach to developing Berlin’s town center is further described in A New Town Center for Berlin, a presentation made on behalf of Berlin Mall LLC (the mall owner) to the Selectboard in 2016. To further shared goals, the Town of Berlin and Berlin Mall LLC have agreed to seek a New Town Center designation for the area.  State designation would offer both the town and property owners within the designated area benefits, including:

• Berlin would be more competitive when seeking grant funding for projects benefiting the new town center.

• The town could create a TIF district for the purposes of financing capital and operating costs associated with infrastructure or other public improvements in the designated area.

• Land within and near the designated area would be eligible for the state’s Neighborhood Development Area program.

• The number of housing units that could be built on a property without requiring an Act250 permit would increase.

Furthermore, the town has completed the following projects in pursuits of a New Town Center (NTC) Designation:

• 2015 Town of Berlin Builds municipal water system to serve, in part, NTC area

• 2018 Town adopts a Town Plan making NTC a priority project

• 2018 Town approves $2.2M Bond to bring municipal sewer service to NTC with 2020 anticipated construction

• 2019 Pre Application consultation with Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development

• 2019 Town adopts new zoning regulations specifically detailing NTC

• 2019 Town grants zoning permit for 98 unit senior living complex in NTC, Act 250 pending

• 2019 Town enters into negotiations for 30-60 unit workforce housing plus daycare project in NTC

• Town drills new water supply well earmarking NTC development

• 2019 Town is awarded $22K Municipal Planning Grant to develop NTC application for Downtown Board review

The Town Plan and many of the Plans and Studies referenced in this Background can be found in the current Berlin Town Plan:  http://www.berlinvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Berlin-Plan-2018-08-14.pdf   


Community Engagement

The success of this project will depend on buy-in from the community and stakeholders earned through a transparent and participatory process. We expect the process will be guided by the Berlin Planning Commission and efforts must be made to include the insights of the broader community, including landowners, residents, business owners, and visitors. Creative opportunities for stakeholder input should be available throughout the planning process that builds momentum and public support. We also expect the community engagement to include a design workshop(s) to provide an efficient and effective way to gather public/stakeholder input into the planning process. The vision for the NTC should be built from the community input of these stakeholders and public meetings in a manner that would maintain consistency with the NTC program requirements.


Suggested Scope of Work *

Task One - Conceptual Master Plan #

Prepare a visual, specific-area plan that presents a vision of how the Town desires to evolve in the coming 20 years.  The plan recommends several actions and practices that should be undertaken by the Town to help achieve the goals and objectives of NTC including a mapping of potential development constraints.

Task Two – Official Map #

Prepare official map showing existing and proposed facilities/utilities, sidewalks, streets, parks, etc.

Task Three - Capital Budget and Program #

Refine and update Berlin’s capital budget and program in accordance with 53 of the Berlin Code and 24 VSA Chapter 117 to meet NTC requirements.

Task Four – Design Standards and Guidance

Berlin can supplement the standards of its Town Center zoning as needed to meet the requirements of 24 V.S.A §2793b. Berlin will consider regulatory approaches for the NTC area such as design review, additional district standards and/or design guidelines

Task Five – NTC Application and State Review Process

Town/consultant will prepare the NTC application in accordance with statutory requirements and NTC application guidelines.  Town/consultant will coordinate with DHCD while preparing this application

Task Six – Neighborhood Development Area Application (NDA)

Town/consultant will prepare the NDA application in accordance with statutory requirements and NDA application guidelines.  Town/consultant will coordinate with DHCD while preparing this application

* - Tasks do not need to be completed in this order, and the consultant may identify sequencing and approach that best executes the task and deliverables in their proposal.

#- These tasks subject to State of Vermont Municipal Planning Grants constraints


Proposal Submission

All responses to the RFP shall include the following information:

1. Cover Letter - A cover letter of interest and general description of recommended approaches, scope of work, processes and deliverables for the project.

2. Scope of Work – Provide a detailed scope of work based on the work plan provided in the RFP for the project broken down by task. Including:

a. Describe the project approach and overview of engagement, including a detailed scope of work with associated list of tasks broken down by task and team member with organizational chart.

b. Describe the schedule and proposed deliverables.

The consultant may also propose additional supplemental items to the scope of work. While the work plan in the RFP serves to illustrate a general process and structure for creating the plan, we are very much open to and interested in hearing any new/creative approaches to this type of plan and our approach.

3. Proposed Schedule – Provide a schedule that includes completion of work task and deliverables, as well as key meetings and comply with timeline given in the RFP.

4. Project Budget – Provide a detailed budget broken down by task and team member. Include your overhead and hourly rates for the individuals involved. Also, provide an estimated budget with staff hours for completing each phase of the proposed scope of work.

5. Qualifications and Staffing – Provide a qualifications profile of the lead consultant and sub-consultants, including indication of the lead consultant, the role of each consultant on the team with organizational staffing chart and percentage of time devoted to the project by each consultant. Also provide detailed information on each consultant, including the name of the firm, year established, including a description of relevant experience on similar projects for each firm and detailed resume listing of their individual work experience in this role on similar projects.

6. References - A minimum of three (3) professional references for whom a similar project has been completed within the last five (5) years.

7. Page Limit - The proposal, encompassing items 1-6 above, shall not exceed 20 double-sided pages (40 total pages) including cover letter, table of contents and resumes.

All information submitted becomes property of the Town of Berlin. The Town of Berlin reserves the right to issue supplemental information or guidelines relating to the RFP as well as make modifications to the RFP. Once submitted, the consultant team (including specific staff assigned to the project) may not be changed without written notice to and consent of the Town of Berlin. All costs incurred in the preparation of the submittal and participation in the selection process is the sole responsibility of the consultant team. The Town of Berlin reserves the right to reject any and all proposals received as a result of this solicitation, to negotiate with any qualified source, to waive any formality and any technicalities or to cancel the RPF in part or in its entirety if it is in the best interest of the Town of Berlin. This solicitation of proposals in no way obligates the Town of Berlin to award a contract.


Evaluation and Selection Process

You will be evaluated based upon:

• The consultant team’s qualifications and experience with similar projects, including experience with both detailed plan development, plan implementation, economic development and market analysis for small towns;

• Experience working with small towns and volunteer committees;

• The qualifications and experience of the specific staff assigned to the project;

• Demonstrated capacity to be creative and innovative, and use strategic and effective approaches that result in an implementation-ready plan;

• Demonstrated capacity to creatively, efficiently and effectively involve and communicate with diverse stakeholders;

• Demonstrated understanding of the project and awareness of the project areas;

• The quality, completeness and effectiveness of the interview process; and

• The consultant team’s recommended strategies and processes for the NTC plan development and implementation.

The top-rated respondents to the Request for Proposals will receive a formal interview invitation.


Proposal and Interview Evaluation

Respondents will be evaluated according to the following factors:

1. Consultant Qualifications and Experience with Similar Projects - 30%

2. Consultant’s work program and scope, community engagement, and scheduling - 40%

3. Overall Quality and Completeness of the Proposal and Interview - 15%

4. Consultant Costs and Fee Schedule – 15%

Following the interviews, one team will be selected to negotiate a final contract for services. The final scope of work with specified deliverables may be modified through negotiation of the final contract. The final project team may also be modified through negotiation of the final contract. Any expenses resulting from the interview will be the sole responsibility of the consultant.


Contract Terms

The Town of Berlin will negotiate contract terms upon selection. The total project cost will not exceed $60,000, of which $22,000 is available for consultant services from the Municipal Planning Grant Program administered by the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development All contracts are subject to review by Town of Berlin legal counsel, and a project will be awarded upon signing of an agreement or contract, which outlines terms, scope, budget and other necessary items. Final contract approval by the Town of Berlin is tentatively scheduled for February 17, 2020. 

Equal Opportunity Employer

Minority and/or female-owned businesses as well as local businesses are encouraged to apply. The Town of Berlin is an Equal Opportunity Employer.


Incurring Costs

The Town of Berlin is not liable for any cost incurred by contractors prior to issuance of a contract.


Final Submittal

Respondents should submit one (1) digital copy (PDF), one (1) printed original and five (5) printed copies of the submittal by 4:00 p.m. Friday, February 7, 2020 to:

Dana Hadley

Berlin Town Administrator

108 Shed Road, Berlin, VT 05602

Or via e-mail: zoning@berlinvt.org

Please expect a confirmation email upon the receipt of your proposal.

If you have any questions, please address them in writing either via U.S. mail or email to Dana Hadley by February 1, 2020, 4pm.

All questions and subsequent answers will be posted to the town website.