Residents share ideas about the future of the Chamberlin neighborhood. Photo Credit: Lee Krohn/CCRPC.


Chamberlin Neighborhood Project Explores Future Use

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Thursday June 04, 2015

What’s in store for the Chamberlin area neighborhood project?

In response to that question, residents filled the Chamberlin School gymnasium on May 27 for a community outreach meeting hosted by the City of South Burlington, the Chamberlin Neighborhood Airport Planning Committee (CNAPC) and its consultants.

This is the first of three community outreach meetings that will inform the work of the committee. The CNAPC will devise a report and recommendations for the South Burlington City Council and the South Burlington Planning Commission to review and process by February 2016. The report and recommendations will also be shared with the Mayor of Burlington, Burlington City Council and Burlington International Airport’s Director of Aviation.

Bringing the Public Up-to-Speed

Before diving into small group discussions, the public received an introduction to the 15-members of the committee formed by the city council, the consultants approved by the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission for the project, an overview of project objectives and important planning documents.

What are the CNAPC objectives? A brief summary:

• Strengthen the relationship between the Chamberlin neighborhood and the Burlington International Airport (BIA)
• facilitate development of a neighborhood land use/transportation plan
• identify multimodal transportation (for vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists) connections/improvements
• Develop a vision for the neighborhood to help shape the re-use of Noise Land as described in the Part 150 Noise Land Inventory and Re-Use Plan (which is developed in compliance with Airport Improvement Program Grant conditions every five years).

Consultants Bob Chamberlin of Resource Systems Group, Inc, Carole Schlessinger and Skip Smallridge of Crosby, Schlessinger and Smallridge, provided a brief overview of land use/zoning, historic resources, planned transportation improvements, and neighborhood layout. BIA Airport Director Gene Richards reviewed the 2030 Master Plan. In addition to the two aforementioned consultants, Birchline Planning, LLC., Third Sector Associates, and Hoyle Tanner Associates are the other approved consultants. All documents and project information can be found at www.ccrpcvt.org/chamberlin.

Brainstorming for the Future

After consolidating the audience members to eight full tables, the evening was broken down into four distinct discussion themes:

• What’s in and around our neighborhood: land use and open spaces
• Urban Form: physical character and landmarks
• Mobility: walking, biking, driving, transit
• Airport Master Plan

Residents discussed what they already liked about the neighborhood and what could use improvement. Are there connections missing in the neighborhood? Could it be more accessible? What types of uses would residents like to see, or not see? Are there elements of the Airport’s Master Plan that could benefit the neighborhood? What are the best ways for neighbors to interface with the airport?

Residents said rapport with neighbors is strong and they would like to keep it residential. Traffic, safety, more connectivity, use of open space for recreational or community-building use (i.e. pocket parks, community center) were noted as areas of opportunity. A representative at each table shared their groups’ strongest points.

“The biggest thing that came up, if you had to say it in one sentence, is ‘keep it residential,’ and there was a lot of discussion of how to do that and what that means,” Smallridge said.

“We’d like to make sure we can reduce the cut-through traffic within the neighborhood...and provide more opportunities for buses and sidewalks, bike paths, and roadways,” one resident reported.

“The biggest theme was protecting and enhancing the neighborhood, and the specific one point was improving the access and safety for people in the neighborhood on foot and on bicycles and for those who have less mobility,” Director of Planning and Zoning Paul Conner said.

“One of the frustrations we heard was that everyone knows everyone on their street but they can’t get to the street behind them, so they may not know those neighbors, but they’d really like to,” voiced City Planner Cathyann LaRose.

Resident Emily Porter said her group appreciated the neighborhood’s residential feel and its affordability, but one suggestion was to “possibly extend the bike path from Kennedy [Dr.]. If we extend those roads all the way through, then, bettering the sidewalks and bike lanes on the rest of the road.”

Meaghan Emery, resident and city councilor, said her group shared several of the same wishes, and they also had a question.

“The streets belong to the city, the land belongs to the airport in this home buyout program…if these streets were no longer used as streets, could the South Burlington-owned land be swapped for some of the airport-owned land?”

Calming and reducing traffic, keeping the natural feel of the area (keeping trees), continuing improved communication with the airport, and adding crosswalks across Williston Road were other pitched ideas.

“We are now going to enter into our work,” Chamberlin said. “We are going to use this information to develop some concepts for the future and come back to you again in September where we’ll have another meeting to present some ideas that you’ve helped create.”

In addition to another upcoming community outreach meeting in the fall, there will be a final community outreach session, anticipated for January 2016, to present possible scenarios and an evaluation, including advantages and disadvantages of each scenario.

For residents, city, and the airport, the future looks bright, according to Gene Richard, director of aviation at the Burlington International Airport.

“We’re heading in the right direction; it sounded very good to me,” he said. “It’s dialogue: I think any dialogue is good dialogue.”

SOURCE: Miranda Jonswold, Correspondent