Making Policy and Planning Fun

Sitting in on a seminar about zoning and planning policies on a Friday afternoon in November may not sound like a hot ticket event but don’t tell that to the room full of people excitedly waiting John Adams’ presentation: Don’t Jersey Vermont.  Adams started by apologizing to those who thought this would be a Jersey trashing session; it was not going to be.  He said that the name came from a dinner conversation when he was talking to a colleague and said the original name of the seminar which the colleague said, sounds boring.  This same colleague apparently reads zoning law for fun.  He then apologized for apologizing, something he attributes to being a Canadian.   Everyone in the room laughed and probably breathed a bit of a sigh of a relief that this talk was not going to be too heavy for a late Friday afternoon.  John Adams

No solution was offered to prevent the Jersey’fication of Vermont but the presentation explored how Vermont does its planning and where it lacks in planning initiatives.  The main takeaway from Adams’ lecture was that Vermonters are very active in planning for their communities, in fact impressively active.   A town of only a few thousand may have a development review board, a planning board,  a land use committee and other groups with an interest in community planning and most roles filled by volunteers.  The talk covered everything from the role of transportation in planning to the future of community development and all delivered with a hint of humor and obvious expertise in the field of planning.

Adams’ presentation was just a taste of what’s to come when he will teach NR 377, Land Use Policy and Economics for the Transportation Research Center.  Adams has a number of years of planning experience on the state and local level in Vermont as well as the perspective he gained in a four month professional exchange where he served as adviser to the Chinese Ministry of Land and resources.  More information about Adams’ course can be found on the Transportation Research Center website at

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