Commentary: Compact Settlements

Kevin McCallum’s article “Climate Retreat” illuminates the dilemma of the Vermont Climate Council’s obsession with Compact Settlements. Its December 2021 Climate Action Plant is all in on the merits of “Compact Settlements”:

“Compact settlement has been at the core of Vermont’s land use goals…. When thoughtfully planned, compact settlement, including infill and redevelopment, can also support many of the State’s climate goals and actions, including energy efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions reductions, community climate resilience and adaptation… (@218)

But:  “Flooding is a key, known impact that is likely to increase as storms become more

frequent and intense in Vermont.”(@169)

“Because many of Vermont’s existing compact settlements grew up along waterways, promoting compact settlements also requires improved resilience.  Managing flood and fluvial erosion hazards in Vermont’s compact settlements will be a critical component of a successful climate response.” (@228)

            Thus the solution of this conundrum is  “Create a State-wide redevelopment authority to bank land, underwrite acceptable risk, ,,, improve building flood resilience in settled areas, and plan for new neighborhood development and infrastructure.” (@231)

            My condensation : We must persuade or force people to depart rural areas and cluster in “compact settlements” to defeat the menace of climate change (expounded on p.146) . Many compact settlements along rivers are going to be flooded. So we must create a state authority to finance resilience in any new development in the favored flood-prone areas. All that is missing is financing the authority with a property tax “climate surcharge” on rural landowners.


John McClaughry, Ethan Allen Institute, Kirby


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  • John McClaughry
    published this page in EAI Commentary 2023-10-13 20:06:32 -0400