Councilors and Commissioners Join Forces to Shape SB

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Thursday January 31, 2013

City Council, Planning Commission, and Interim Zoning committees are all simultaneously addressing areas related to shaping the future of South Burlington.  There are months of research and revisions, consultant and committee work results, and public input to synthesize into a cohesive process related to the City’s sustainability goals.

January 22, Councilors and Commissioners took their places at the table for a joint meeting, and committee members filled the rest of the City Hall conference room along with a handful of curious citizens.  The primary focus was on developing methods to best communicate with each other in order to move ahead in the process.

Recently,  the Planning Commission has been resuming its work on Land Development Regulations, and even though there is a Commission representative for each of the four committees, there is still a disconnect between the entities. Some citizens and developers are critical of the commission’s work to revise regulations, saying that it’s putting the cart before the horse.

“Rewriting the LDRs now, knowing that a year from now they’re going to be looked at again and rewritten again, does it make sense to do that twice? I’m beginning to think, no, it doesn’t...take a time-out and not make any changes,” Council Chair Rosanne Greco said.

In an effort to bridge communication gaps, the Commission will take on a stronger role.  Commissioner Chris Cole suggested that the committees--perhaps via the consultant--provide a report of their work product. It is not in the consultants’ contract to attend commission meetings, but having face-to-face discussions would improve dialogue and transparency.

Form Based Code Committee’s consultant, Paul Dreher, who will write the codes for the future of this city, offered to follow through with the suggestion. The Path to Sustainability has been identified as a Council priority, and Form Based Code is intended to take all city initiatives into account and allow its citizens to partake in molding it into the place citizens would like it to become.  Therefore, it is imperative that the IZ committees also make their work product and vision clear to the Form Based Code Committee.

Consultants Brandy Saxton (Sustainable Agriculture and Affordable Housing), Amy Macrellis (stormwater), Julie Moore (stormwater), and Gail Henderson King (Sustainable Agriculture) are also working diligently to shape South Burlington. Input regarding stormwater and a well defined  energy policy will also be considered in the planning.

“Form Based Code becomes the clearing house for these ideas,” Dreher said. “If we start early and we take their considerations into our work, we can very easily write into our code and map all our work plans and product,” Dreher said.

Commission Chair Jessica Louisos and Greco favored a similar formula. The process flow of IZ work could best be handled by having the work products from committees go directly to the Planning Commission, then report to Form Based Code, returning back to the commission for review, and then ultimately to the City Council, Greco said.

To view the flowchart, and for more information, citizens are encouraged to check out the city’s website dedicated to this project:

Upcoming meetings, previous discussions, and opportunity for input can all be found in this location.

Mark your calendars for upcoming workshops on February 13 and 21 from 7-9pm at City Hall.  

SOURCE: Miranda Jonswold, Correspondent