What's Popping Up in Planning
Manchester, Vermont

Envisioning Manchester Charrette

Wednesday night will feature a public meeting and design charrette on the history, current makeup, challenges, and future of downtown Manchester. We will look at the timeline of changes in built character and function; the investments made over time; and current retail vacancies, housing needs and costs, site and development challenges, and parking utilization. Teams will be challenged to think about how the future of retail and the future of work may play out in downtown Manchester and what catalytic projects or changes could facilitate a desired future outcome for downtown.

Changing the Conversation

We’ve all had that public meeting where the conversation turns angry, loops endlessly, or goes way beyond left field. Our morning plenary will offer insight into how to better understand what people are saying and why, so that we can become more effective facilitators and lead productive meetings.

Meet and Interact

This fast-paced interactive session will highlight the uses of key pad polling, WikiMaps and online surveys to expand community engagement and outreach. The session will feature group participation in polling and introduce techniques and approaches from real-world experiences. A quiz show element will allow session participants to get first hand exposure to the technology as well as insights on how to glean relevant and valuable data from it.

Back to the Land

Advancing a local food system is a growing sector of the rural economy, however new farm operators face many challenges gaining access to farmland, not least of which are cost and availability of quality soils. In this session you will hear from farmland access advocates and farmers concerning the challenges and strategies that can support farmland access and reinvigorate the rural economy.

Moving Around Manchester

Participants will be led on a walk through downtown Manchester to see how recent developments have been linked to the downtown, and where challenges still lie. After a review of goals and challenges from the plan research process and the Wednesday night charrette, participants will head out on foot through the downtown. This is an “ideas and insights” walking tour that is intended to point out particular types of approaches or projects, whether very short term and low cost (e.g. pop-ups, painted crosswalks, projects) or long-term capital (e.g. roadway reconstruction, intersections), would move towards the vision of mobility in Manchester.

Flying Lesson

Drone technology is giving us new ways to collect overhead imagery of our communities. The data collected by drones has uses that go far beyond compelling images and stunning videos. This session will dive into drone technology, drawing from dozens of case studies in which drones have been used throughout New England for community planning and emergency management. You will learn about the various types of drone platforms, the rules and regulations surrounding drones, how drone imagery can be processed to create geospatial data, and what should be taken into account before you contract for drone services. The University of Vermont Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Team will conduct a live demonstration (weather permitting) with several of their drones.

Food Dollars

This interactive session will teach participants about the wealth creation approach, which focuses on exploring and constructing place-based value chains while creating an impact on multiple forms of community wealth. Using the lens of food systems and examples of on-the-ground food value chains, this session will impart key principles and tools of this framework.

Droning and Driving

This session will cover how emerging technologies like drones and preliminary design/visualization applications have changed how we approach outreach on projects. Allowing us to present our designs in context improves stakeholder understanding. Utilizing the drones to capture current conditions and bring those conditions into our design applications helps clarify design intent.

Connected and autonomous vehicle technology is advancing quickly and is already being utilized in cars and trucks traveling on highways today. This new technology promises to improve safety significantly and increase mobility. Like any technology, connected and self-driving vehicles also pose other opportunities and perhaps some unintended consequences. This session will provide some basic information on connected and autonomous vehicles, and describe the opportunities and impacts to the transportation system, land use and our communities under different scenarios.

Joe Segale Presentation

Ryan Noyes Presentation

In the Market

How a bulk food buying club became a storefront with the largest sales volume for a single-store food coop in the country, and how that coop has fostered agriculture and food enterprise within its community. Panelists from Onion River Coop’s City Market, Burlington’s Intervale Center and the Intervale Food Hub will tell this remarkable food system story.

Street Legal

Examine two planning topics from a legal perspective – road access and signs.

Strip malls, condominium developments and single-family homes have one thing in common: they can’t exist without road access. This session will explore road-related issues that surround development and construction, including subdivisions, driveways, and building on unmaintained public roads and private roads.

Using the case of Signs for Jesus v. Town of Pembroke, U.S. District Court, New Hampshire, Opinion No. 2017 DNH 016, 1/27/2017, this session will provide guidance on land use law, sign ordinances and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).

Tim Corwin Presentation

Stephen Buckley, Esq. Presentation

Patrick Venne Presentation

A Brand for Manchester

Manchester has been through a number of changes and upheavals in its local chamber of commerce and regional marketing structure. As economic changes, notably shifts in retail, affect the town’s balance of tourism and jobs, and as the region’s resident population shifts and changes, how can Manchester capture “who we are” in images and words in effective and forward-looking ways? How can downtown be distinguished from the region and town as a whole to promote a positive engagement in its future? This is a fun, interactive session with a serious purpose. Participants will explore color, imagery, words and phrases that capture not only what Manchester has been but where downtown is headed. Planners with experience in branding are strongly urged to participate and help facilitate this session!

Tour de Manchester

The Tour de Manchester will highlight dramatic transformations in the heart of a historic downtown, all rooted in long-term planning goals, which sprouted when the times were right, and which were brought to fruition through engaged and determined community leadership.

Learn how the “marathon” strategy transformed an old auto dealership into a much-loved Town Green; how “Malfunction Junction” became a beautiful, functional roundabout that even the most ardent skeptics came to embrace. Building on that, we’ll then wander down the road to learn about more changes in the works to transform a three lane highway into a more walkable, bikeable Depot Street. Finally, we’ll witness the fruits of very recent volunteer efforts to create the “Riverwalk” – a calm and peaceful oasis along the West Branch of the famed Batten Kill in the midst of a highly developed commercial core.

Each is a discrete project unto itself, yet all are bound together in long-term community vision and planning.

Brewing Up a Revitalized Downtown

Craft brewers, local restaurateurs, and scholars share how local food, drink, and products are boosting downtowns.

Character Areas Open Studio

Please come by for an open studio session and work with the Orion Planning + Design team on defining the elements and boundaries of character areas in downtown Manchester. We will be completing character area mapping and ideas on catalytic projects, and incorporating branding elements, themes, phrases and colors, in the draft plan and plan documents. This is an informal drop-in; please join us for as long or as little as you like.

Open Data Portal to Another Dimension

Hear the story about how linking parcel data to assessment information and using GIS software to visualize property values is making waves in Vermont and other places. This session will delve into economic datasets and show how you how to create compelling 3D visualizations that can help citizens see their community in new ways and help inform decision making.

What's Left on Your Plate

Presenters will discuss food recovery/food scrap diversion regulations, policies, and programs in New England that have improved the triple bottom line:  environment, economics, and society.

Jaclyn Hochreiter Presentation 

Josh Kelly Presentation

Robert Spencer Presentation

VT Food Bank Presentation

Demonstrate It!

Do you want to test-run potential solutions like simulating bulb-outs at busy crosswalks, reducing lane widths or adding bike lanes before investing substantial municipal funds in major infrastructure improvements? Would you like to experiment with adding new public spaces and activities downtown? Learn how to implement a pop-up demonstration in this hands-on session.

Rain or Shine

The planners of this mobile workshop are actually hoping for rain to showcase new stormwater management materials and techniques.

Cafeteria Food

“Fresh” and “healthy” are used to describe meals served in school and other institutional cafeterias. Learn how community partnerships are creating food system policy that benefit producers and consumers alike.

Peter Allison Presentation

Betsy Rosenbluth Presentation

Abbie Nelson Presentation

Elevate Your Game

The Vermont Center for Geographic Information’s Lidar Program (VLP) is months away from achieving full lidar coverage for the entire state of Vermont and they are excited! Lidar, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to generate precise, three-dimensional information about the earth and its surface characteristics. Uses range from hydrological modelling and high resolution land cover mapping to mountain bike trail planning and archeological exploration. Learn more about what lidar data is, new ways to obtain it and how planners can make of use this incredibly useful data.

Nature's Bounty

Learn about some of the problems facing communities in Northern New England, and the underlying issue of ecosystem services. Explore how thinking holistically and using a systems perspective can provide a new way forward for communities. While planning documents may take a systems perspective, land use regulations seldom do. This integrated approach provides for the regeneration of lost ecosystem services such as food production, and the resulting projects will help your community become more adaptive and resilient over time. Participants will then be charged to work collaboratively on a hands on exercise. This is an opportunity to apply our collective professional knowledge to create regulatory solutions that encourage food security.

Urban Tactics

Guerrilla gardening. Pop-up bike lanes. Parklets. Explore how municipalities in northern New England are using quick, often temporary, low-cost projects to make a small part of the community a more lively, interesting and enjoyable place to be.

Nicole Losch Presentation

Ward Joyce Presentation

There's an App for That

Take a deep dive into placemaking projects that utilized crowdfunding campaigns to allow direct citizen investment in their communities. See how to quickly, affordably and with direct buy in and support of your community improve the public spaces in your community while enhancing the quality of life for all residents.

Explore the Vermont Transportation Resiliency App – a new screening method to evaluate vulnerability of closure or failure for roads, bridges, and culverts. The goal is to identify critical, high risk road segments and crossing structures to guide infrastructure planning and capital expenditure programming. The app will be accessible to municipal, state and regional government agencies for planning at the watershed or sub-watershed level.

Learn about one municipality’s decision-making process for selecting the right permitting software from the myriad of choices available. Presentation

Down on the Farm
Manchester has long been a tourist destination – primarily focused on outdoor recreation and retail outlets. The town’s tourism economy is diversifying into local food and agri-tourism. We will be visiting two such enterprises – Earth Sky Time Farm and the Dene Farm at Hildene – to learn how they are combining tourism and agriculture to create new economic and educational opportunities in the community.

Stories from the Street

Portland, ME. Explore the approaches to public engagement that the City of Portland and non-profit partners have incorporated into several recent planning initiatives. Projects include Portland’s new comprehensive plan and redesign of Congress Square, among others, large and small, that are transforming the city. Integral to the success and outcome of these projects has been abundant and varied methods of participatory planning and public engagement.

Nashua, NH. The Nashua River played a vital role in the historical development of Nashua. As times changed, the community’s connection to the downtown riverfront has waxed and waned. As Main Street and our downtown community are beginning to flourish again, the community wants to reconnect Main Street and our riverfront. The City’s recent Master Planning process had a short timeframe and limited funds to reconnect the community to the waterfront. Check out how Nashua used a combination of new affordable digital techniques; combined with boots on the ground, to get the public engaged in creating its new Downtown Riverfront Master Plan.

Strafford, NH. The Strafford Regional Planning Commission aimed to go above and beyond traditional stakeholder outreach when they undertook a recent regional transportation planning project.  Integrating performance based planning principles into the project, SRPC staff uncovered under-appreciated intersections among transportation planning and other sectors. Despite some obstacles and learning curves, the Partnering for Performance project has maintained engagement with stakeholders throughout various phases.  Flexibility and a willingness to ‘return to the drawing board’ have been key to success.

Bethel, VT. In 2016, the Town of Bethel came together to give a faded downtown block an extreme makeover – all in a weekend. The Bethel Revitalization Initiative hosted Vermont’s first Better Block project, putting a rural twist on this popular tactical urbanism technique. More than 60 volunteers built parklets and pop-up shops, created a temporary bike lane and downtown bus stop, cleaned out vacant buildings and painted over graffiti. Hundreds came out to experience what a vibrant, accessible downtown could feel like and to weigh in on the changes they liked best. In the months since Bethel Better Block, the BRI has been working on making the most popular ideas permanent, from public art to traffic calming.

Imagine People Here

The Imagine People Here Regional Demonstration Project Toolkit was recently awarded the 2017 Plan4Health grant from the American Planning Association. The Plan4Health initiative aims to build capacity to address population health goals and promote the inclusion of health in non-traditional sectors. The project was to create a toolkit for sanctioned tactical urbanist demonstration projects. This will create a resource that will enable more people across New England to plan for and experiment with built environment changes that improve quality of life, economic activity and health. This can start the conversation of public health in transportation in your community.

#New Tech / #New Ethics

This panel discussion will tackle how to apply the APA Code of Ethics in the face of changing technology.