Housing Super-Committee Meeting

We attended the Housing Super-Committee tonight. The discussion was about what can be done to improve the housing situation in Burlington. I was pleased to see that things such as rolling back the design advisory boards control, relaxing zoning laws, and reducing the city’s fees. However, I was displeased to hear that the committee is not willing to work on zoning and ordinances that require the city to work with the state. They appear to be afraid of dealing with the state. An interesting fact about our zoning laws is that we would not be able to rebuild the majority of the city with the current rules… most buildings and lots are in violation of current zoning rules. Combine this with the excessive rules for landlords, its no wonder that housing is not keeping up with demand and is so expensive in Burlington.

The 2nd topic that displeased me was the list the committee unveiled called “Potential Housing Development Sites”. At the top of the list are several city-owned and state-owned properties. However, afterwards they have lists of private properties and religious properties. I will list them below:

Private properties:

  • Bard Home Decorating
  • VFW
  • Hood Plant – under development by owner
  • Eagles Club Banknorth – under development
  • Mansfield Professional Building
  • Adams Building on So. Champlain
  • The Waterfront (Main Street Landing site)
  • Panda Inn
  • Sunset Cliff/Starr Farm Rd. – under development/appeal
  • Burgess Electric (land in rear) – under development/appeal
  • Cornell Trading Company Warehouse/ North Ave.) – under development/appeal
  • Mobil Tank Farm – requires zoning change
  • Key Bank parcel – under development by ICV/appeal
  • Battery Street Jeans – slated for development by ICV
  • Vermont Railway Site
  • Turner Property – under development for Co-Housing

    Religious properties:

  • St. Anthony’s Parish
  • Catholic Diocese Property
  • Ohavi Zedek Synagogue land on N. Prospect
  • Episcopal Diocese land – off Institute Road
  • Unitarian Universalist Society – land on Elmwood Ave. across from Post Office

    The committee had discussed the religious properties and Eagles Club in particular for housing development. It was suggested that it would be difficult to get the Eagles Club out of their building or to deal with the city especially after the smoking ban situation. It was suggested that they could move to South Burlington and have smoking again, but then someone brought up how the state doesn’t allow smoking in private clubs now. Regarding the religious properties, it was brought up that the Interfaith Action group has suggested that affordable housing is one of their primary goals, so therefore they should be willing to give up some of their land for the good of the community, for affordable housing development.

    I would suggest that if your property is listed you contact the housing super-committee and ask about their intentions, and possibly ask for your property to be taken off the list. Particularly if you are an Eagles Club member or religious group. Everyone wants affordable housing, but the city should not be engaging in taking property to provide it.

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