Two people smiling holding an award


The Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission Receives
National Planning Award

American Planning Association recognizes 20 communities nationwide
for best practices in planning and urban design.


CHICAGO (4/5/19) – The Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission in Vermont, is being recognized for its innovative Tropical Storm Irene Flood Buyout program with a Silver 2019 National Planning Achievement Award for Resilience from the American Planning Association (APA). The award recognizes the Commission’s program for providing homeowners with financial remuneration to rebuild their lives and setting the town on a more expedient path to recovery. The Tropical Storm Irene Flood Buyout program is one of 20 Achievement Award recipients this year.

Kevin Geiger, Senior Planner at TRORC states that “from day one, our buyout program was a team effort with our state partners at the Department of Housing and Community Development and Vermont Emergency Management.  We kept each other going all the way, from before we even got any federal funds, all the way to the end. It was great to see such dedication and compassion to help those truly devastated by the flood.”

After Tropical Storm Irene caused massive flooding and devastated hundreds of homes along the East Coast in 2011, community leaders and planners with Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission (TRORC) quickly responded to the emergency by developing a flood buyout program that offered homeowners the option of receiving a buyout of their property so they could rebuild their lives. Homes were purchased at 100 percent of pre-flood value, thus preventing many families from financial ruin and enabling the town to return these sites to public reuse as public parks and river access points. It also spared financial institutions significant losses.

The buyouts were financed from three sources including a hazard mitigation grant from FEMA; CDBG-Disaster Recovery funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; and funds from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board. Overall, the project used $119 million to purchase 140 properties, improve flood storage, and revegetate stream buffers. Three brownfield sites were remediated and 17 new riverside parks and access points were created. Additional sites continue to be bought or cleaned up.

“The actions of the commission were both innovative and courageous,” said Wendy Shabay, AICP, 2019 Awards Jury Chair. “These are not easy conversations to have with residents and this was well done and demonstrates how communities can be forward-thinking and ensure a safer future for the community.”

Each year, APA recognizes outstanding efforts in planning and planning leadership through its National Planning Excellence and Achievement Awards. The two-tier awards are selected through a juried process. Excellence Award recipients are the highest honor and Achievement Awards recognize accomplishments in areas of specialization within the planning profession. The awards recognize outstanding community plans, planning programs and initiatives, public education efforts, and individuals for their leadership on planning issues for more than 50 years.

In addition to the Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission, APA honors the following 2019 Achievement Award recipients:

Best Practice

  • Gold– WEDG: The Blue Movement to Design Better Waterfronts; Waterfront Alliance; New York, New York
  • Silver – City of Clovis – Cottage Home Program; Clovis, California
  • Silver – SMART Parks: A Toolkit; UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation, Principle Investigator Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris; Los Angeles, California
  • Silver – Planning Commission Online Public Hearings; Lakewood, Colorado
  • Silver – Engage 2017: Housing, Parking & Natural Resources; Town of Jackson / Teton County, Wyoming

Economic Development Planning

  • Silver – Port NOLA Strategic Master Plan; Port of New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Silver – Los Alamos Tourism Strategic Plan; Los Alamos, New Mexico

Environmental Planning

  • Gold – Sustainable Chinatown Initiative; San Francisco, California

Grassroots Initiative

  • Gold – Stoneham Transportation Advocacy Committee; Stoneham, Massachusetts


  • Gold – The Van Aken District; Shaker Heights, Ohio

Public Outreach

  • Gold – People’s Planning Academy; Department of Metropolitan Development; Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Silver – Go Human Tactical Urbanism Demonstration Events; Southern California
  • Silver – Parker the Planner, a City Planning Story; Madeline Dahleimer (Peck), Bolton & Menk, Inc.; Burnsville, Minnesota


  • Gold – Climate Ready Boston Report; Boston, Massachusetts
  • Silver – Liberty County Strategic Plan; Liberty County, Texas


  • Gold – Multimobility Planning on the Cellular Level; Stantec Consulting Services Inc./Tahoe Transportation District; Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada
  • Silver – Downtown St. Louis Multimodal Transportation Plan; St. Louis, Missouri
  • Silver – Cache County Trails and Active Transportation Master Plan; Cache County, Utah

Urban Design

  • Gold – Downtown Allentown Development and Urban Design Plan; Allentown, Pennsylvania

The 2019 National Planning Award recipients will be honored at a special luncheon during APA’s National Planning Conference in San Francisco on April 15, 2019. The recipients will also be featured in the May issue of Planning magazine. For a complete list and summary of all the APA 2019 National Planning Excellence and Achievement Award recipients, visit

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