2016 City Council Candidate Questionnaire: Chris Shaw

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Thursday February 18, 2016

Chris Shaw

3 Year Term

Education B.A. Harvard M.Ed. UVM

Occupation: Instructor, Stern Center (Williston)

Years as SB Resident:16 Years

What is the city’s most pressing concern, and what actions/solutions are required? What is your own top priority for the city; how will this goal be accomplished?

Sustainable property taxes. My priority solution is City Center/UMall w/shops, restaurants, housing, entertainment and civic use. Our local options sales tax and the rooms/meals tax help keep property taxes down. This area will transform under our new zoning. The tax burden will lessen on residential.
The TIF financing district in City Center/UMall allows us to build a library/community center affordably. Major attractions (theater/multi-use center, promenade/shops, greenspace) will create the success, allowing the city to improve its facilities/amenities (schools/parks) through those increased sales/rooms tax revenues – not relying on property taxes. We continue work on regionalized service agreements for further savings.

What is the right balance and rate of residential and commercial growth throughout the city? How does the preservation/acquisition of open space fit with your views of growth and development?

South Burlington seeks commercial/industrial growth. Residential growth/density is planned near public transportation, creating walkable neighborhoods. We strive for a 50/50 ratio. Population remains flat; residential adds 140 units/year. This forms our Comp Plan and LDRs. Continual LDR review makes them reasonable and responsive to community needs. We protected a lot of our remaining open space through 2006 updates to SouthEast Quadrant zoning, and two recent (2013) Interim Zoning committees re-examined this, offering no dramatic changes. We continue to actively pursue acquisitions/partnerships to obtain/preserve more open space through our open space fund or through negotiation (as can happen in City Center).

What is your vision for City Center, taking into account the complex components of TIF financing and bonds, zoning, municipal and/or civic use, residential development, commercial interests of local and national businesses, citizen and stakeholder needs, and proposed plans for University Mall?

I have prioritized a library/community center with any potential partner, imagining a library with a top floor view. Ground floor stores and upper level housing is the vision, not any “big box” store or massive parking lot. We plan for a parking garage, town green and public plaza. Our Form Based Codes committee structured a “festival street” for farmers’ markets/festivals. A promenade/pedestrian boulevard is possible with the right entertainment/multi-use mix and partner. Ideally, seamless synergy and connections between the UMall redevelopment and City Center across Dorset will sustain each other and create the excitement, walkability, housing and people traffic of a desirable multi-faceted destination. This would increase local options tax and rooms/meals tax revenues to help the city, schools and property taxpayers. This vision relieves us of an unsustainable property tax burden that relies on residents alone to fund services/infrastructure/schools. We benefit from hotels, restaurants and shops while creating housing for young families (& students in schools). It will attract the commercial growth we seek. We look forward to working with the UMall as one partner. We need an equally visionary partner for City Center, and we have the best management team and council to make that happen.

Do you think the city would be best served by the Rick Marcotte Central School property being retained by the school district, sold or traded to the city, or sold to a developer?

Do not sell to developer. Possibly trade to the city. The city has received, and will receive, public input for the best possible outcome at the least expense. The City does not own land there. Site control would allow us to institute the community’s vision and not a developer’s. Manager Kevin Dorn has done this work successfully before at the state/local level. First, the School Board needs to determine its overall plan for the schools. The School Board could retain it. Their Master Visioning/Planning Committee was unanimous to repurpose the school, citing student population trends, costs, and limited access/safety.

What are your priorities for the airport, the surrounding airport owned properties and the Chamberlin neighborhood? What is the councilor’s role?

The priority is to secure noise monitoring funds through FAA/Airport because ongoing data is factual and keeps us focused on the issue. A councilor’s role is to work positively with Airport/Burlington, not fight. We need to restore our tax stabilization agreement that was abrogated five years ago. The airport wants a hotel. The neighborhood committee should evaluate it on the north concourse to block sound from White Street and make other specific recommendations like this. Buffers are needed – what will they look like? What will they cost? Who will pay? And when? Neighbors through CNAPC or another committee should be recommending what practical/affordable wall/buffer/business they’d like to see to help mitigate noise. We await their recommendations this summer. We’ve helped create a noise committee to address all noises from airport. We will work through this regional committee to address operational issues, possible barriers, and ongoing monitoring. We are intent on working with airport and not against it. Both managements worked closely to address these kind of issues in a non-political manner 8 years ago – we can get back to this civil, problem-solving approach which will benefit everyone. I will help achieve the best, most positive outcomes for South Burlington.

How should the city address requests by citizens for increased public transportation, and safe pedestrian and bike accessibility throughout 

the city?

Public transportation gets reviewed annually by the city and monthly by our CCTA representative. Special advocacy occurs with our representative, manager or council. The bike/ped access is addressed two ways –locally, through building of bike paths with impact fees and regionally, by using CCRPC funds to study/engineer improved intersections, sidewalks and bike lanes. We must push to connect the entire city with sidewalk/bike access and safe intersections. We can implement one-way streets in City Center and protected bike lanes on main roadways as these are healthy, safe ways to improve our quality of life and reduce congestion.

Closing Statement:

I promise to continue the hard work we started in 2013. We hired Manager Kevin Dorn, stopped the fighting with City Clerk Donna Kinville, extended the Cairns Arena lease, organized a neighborhood committee on airport issues, secured more police for public safety and improved city services. South Burlington is a respected leader in the county/state. City Hall looks sharp inside and out. City Center will seek voter approval this year, when we find the right partner. We will successfully tackle airport issues on tax/noise. We are making great progress. I hope I’ve earned your vote to continue our proud tradition.