Director of Planning and Zoning Paul Conner and CNAPC Chair Carmine Sargent look on as George Maille, noise subcommittee chair, addresses the council.

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Thursday September 15, 2016

Neighborhood Commitment Remains Strong Sound Mitigation Committee Takes Shape

What’s next for the Chamberlin neighborhood? What is the proposed Burlington International Airport Sound Mitigation Committee, and what is South Burlington’s role in the matter?

The South Burlington City Council worked to address these questions with members of the former Chamberlin Neighborhood Airport Planning Committee (CNAPC) at its September 6 meeting. This was a follow-up to the July 18 presentation when the council heard final reports and recommendations from CNAPC and its Noise Subcommittee.

CNAPC in Review

Active from April 2015 through June 2016, CNAPC was a neighborhood planning project made possible by a Municipal Planning Grant from the Vermont Department of Community Development. It was additionally funded by the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission and the City of South Burlington.

CNAPC was comprised of 15 members, a mix of neighbors from three affected regions of the neighborhood, a planning commission representative, a South Burlington Airport Commissioner, a Burlington Airport Commissioner, two at-large community members appointed by city council, one city council/Burlington mayoral appointment, and one school district appointed person.

CNAPC members were charged to assist with the initial planning process focused on the future uses for the properties adjacent to the Burlington International Airport left vacant by the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) voluntary home buyout program. With the help of consultants, city and regional planning staff, and the public, the working group devised a list of short, medium, and long-term recommendations for ways to revitalize the neighborhood with transportation and civic enhancements. Furthermore, they focused on strengthening the relationship between the neighborhood and the airport as well as communication pathways and institutional arrangements.

In January, CNAPC members formed a Noise Committee to work on all concerns regarding the topic they have previously described as “the elephant in the room.” They made the decision when staff informed them that focusing solely on noise issues, including a noise study, was outside the scope of funding they had received.

CNAPC was active during major airport updates and happenings, including the demolition of 94 houses under the voluntary FAA Home Buyout Program last summer, the reveal of new airport FAA Part 150 Noise Exposure Maps, and the reveal of the updated Land and Reuse Plan, as well as a sound mitigation program.

CNAPC Recommendations

Finally, on July 18, city council heard the final recommendations. At that meeting, CNAPC Chair Carmine Sargent shared a few short term recommendations that could be implemented immediately, were relatively inexpensive, and would have a positive impact on the community. Director of Planning and Zoning Paul Conner updated the council on the progress of these recommendations at the September 6 meeting.

“The Public Works Department has acted on the first recommendations from the group which was to install a bike lane on Patchen Road from White Street to the Interstate,” he said. This includes striping and installation of bicycle stencils.

Conner added that Public Works worked on the second recommendation, which was put a new north-south crosswalk at the intersection of White Street and Airport Parkway. The curb has been cut, handicapped ramps were installed, and crosswalk markings will be installed next.

A third recommendation is in-the-works to allow for larger front porches and to lower the maximum front yard fencing height. The recommendation has already come before the planning commission; staff is currently drafting language to bring before the planning commission this month.

Council also took time to discuss next steps regarding a recommendation to install bike lanes on White Street and Airport Parkway. This would require changes to the city’s parking ordinance as well as signage. Staff will prepare a reading and answer pending questions about commercial vehicles on such roads, since the ordinance restricts parking where there are bike lanes. Council will review the reading and decide whether to hold a public hearing.

“I would like at some point to have a discussion with councilors regarding what you’d like to see happen,” Sargent said. “I would like to see the councilors come up with a plan for how these things are going to get done, whether we have this committee or not.”

She inquired about neighborhood signage, artistic features, and the continuation of a standing Chamberlin neighborhood committee.

Sargent will return to the council with former CNAPC members who have expressed interest in being a part of a community group continuation. Other interested members of the public, particularly those directly affected in the area, are welcome to join. Public Works can look into signage, and there could be potential collaboration with the school regarding artistic opportunities.

Proposed Burlington International Airport Sound Mitigation Committee

The city was invited to bring up to four South Burlington representatives to the first official meeting for the Burlington International Airport Sound Mitigation Committee on September 14. The airport approached the city last winter regarding an airport-led sound committee, but CNAPC recommended the city hold off on a response, review the proposal, and provide feedback with recommendations as necessary.

Planning staff put together a side-by-side comparison of the CNAPC Noise Subcommittee and the Airport Sound Mitigation Committee’s purpose, structure and membership, mission, and responsibilities.

“I have to say I’m a little disappointed with the proposal,” Council Chair Helen Riehle said. “When I looked at the different missions, it seems to me the mission that the director of aviation came up with is more about the economic importance of an airport and different aspects.”

“While I think those are important concepts to share with the public, I think the whole purpose really was not to create a committee to promote the airport necessarily, but rather an organization or committee that would let the communities that are impacted by the airport and the noise to have the dialogue to allow them to understand and communicate back and forth amongst all the partners.”

Councilor Meaghan Emery commented that the makeup of the Airport Sound Mitigation Committee was heavily driven by airport representatives. Councilor Pat Nowak urged the appointed members to hear what the airport has to say before jumping to any conclusions.

“I think we’ve also gotten the impression that they [the airport] are open to conversation, they want to figure out a solution and work with us,” Councilor Tom Chittenden said.

Kim Robison, a former member of the Noise Subcommittee, asked councilors to request a meeting with Director of Aviation Gene Richards and Director of Planning & Development Nic Longo prior to the September 14 meeting. Council said they would issue a letter to the airport with the request.

“We felt it would be talk to them about some of the actual details of how this has been set up and see if we can start a positive collaboration and create a body that fulfills the needs and goals of the Burlington International Airport, South Burlington, and the communities,” Robison said.

City Manager Kevin Dorn, Director of Planning and Zoning Paul Conner, Carmine Sargent, and George Maille were all appointed to attend the meeting.

SOURCE: Miranda Jonswold, Correspondent