Peter Gregory, AICP, executive director of Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission (TRORC) in Woodstock, is the recipient of the 2020 Arthur Gibb Award for Individual Leadership. The Vermont Natural Resources Council (VNRC) presents this honor annually to a Vermont resident who has made a lasting contribution to their community, region or state in the ways they integrate smart growth and conservation.
The Arthur Gibb Award will be presented to Gregory at VNRC’s 2020 Annual Meeting, to be held virtually on Thursday, Sept. 24 at 5:30 p.m.
For 30 years and counting, Gregory’s work and leadership have led to thoughtful, comprehensive approaches to local and regional planning for transportation, water quality, energy, and emergency management. He has also served as an active, effective, and respected voice in the state Legislature in support of these and other issues.
Notably, Gregory was instrumental to Vermont’s early implementation of Act 200 (which established changes to the planning process at the local, regional, and state level, and codified the planning goals that shape smart growth work today) and of numerous water quality laws. More recently, Gregory’s efforts to improve Vermont’s Comprehensive Energy Plan contributed to the Legislature and Dept.of Public Service developing enhanced energy requirements for town and regional plans and providing funding to develop them.
Gregory’s work has extended far beyond his home state. Under his leadership, TRORC was the first regional planning commission in Vermont to join the National Organization of Development Organizations (NADO), within which Gregory took a leadership role, testified before Congress, and visited the White House to amplify Vermont’s voice in rural issues on a national scale.
“Peter has been a leader in Vermont’s planning community over the past three decades,” said Brian Shupe, Executive Director of VNRC. “He has created a model for effective regional planning and helped shape many of the statewide policies and programs that Vermont communities rely on. From downtown redevelopment to emergency management, the range of topics that Peter has influenced is really remarkable.”
Kevin Geiger, senior planner at TRORC, was among those who nominated Gregory for this award. In his nomination, he spoke of Gregory’s insight and tact working with the Legislature, the TRORC Board, and various parties to create programs and policy solutions that reach common ground. Geiger wrote out that all collaboration needs a thread to weave it together, and that “behind all of the eventual compromises that such endeavors naturally entail, it is [Gregory’s] vision that drives it all.”
Gregory’s spirit of collaboration is perhaps exemplified by his role in the Irene Floods Buyout Project, an innovative effort to meet the immediate needs of people statewide whose properties were destroyed during Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, while reducing the likelihood of future flood damage. Gregory’s leadership contributed to the program’s success in buying and demolishing 140 flood-damaged properties, creating improved floodwater storage, revegetating stream buffers, remediating brownfield sites, and creating 17 riverside parks and public water access points.
“Gregory has also shown incredible leadership in promoting and upholding the smart growth vision of TRORC’s regional plan, especially when it has been at risk of being undermined,” said Kate McCarthy, Sustainable Communities Program Director at VNRC. She cited proposed dollar stores at Exit 3 on I-89 and a commercial and residential complex at Exit 1 as notable examples of projects that did not meet the regional plan’s policies, and which TRORC challenged. The Exit 1 Supreme Court decision ultimately served as an important precedent regarding how regional and local plans should be used in Act 250 proceedings.
To learn more about the Arthur Gibb Award, visit vnrc.org/awards.