Proposal for School Safety Overlay District

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Thursday October 03, 2013

The Form Based Codes Committee has been hard at work defining the boundaries of City Center; within which any use would be permitted so long as the height and frontage of the buildings conformed with what has been set forth by the City.  

This is why a proposed school safety zone is being discussed. The zones would be customized around each school and vary based on walking routes to school and other safety and risk factors. At the September 25 school board meeting, Martin LaLonde presented draft language for the School Safety Overlay District. The draft language for potential inclusion in South Burlington’s Land Development Regulations regarding a “School Safety Overlay District” includes the following statement of purpose: “The purpose of the school safety overlay district would be to provide a means by which the allowable uses and arrangement and intensity of uses on a given parcel may be regulated in keeping with the goals and objectives of the City’s comprehensive plan concerning schools. It is the intent of this overlay district to protect the health, safety, and welfare of students attending the schools of the South Burlington School District.”  

LaLonde presented a number of potential prohibited uses in the district for discussion. He explained that some may need to be explored further in order for the Board to justify the prohibition of said use, should they be called upon to do so by the planning commission or city council. Some, he explained, should not need an explanation at all such as adult use, bulk storage, cannabis dispensary, junk yard, motor freight terminal, self storage and medical office to the extent that such offices dispense or prescribe Schedule I or II drugs as defined in the Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. 812. “It’s not the intention of this, to get rid of the methadone clinic,” LaLonde said, “I just would not want to see another one.”  

However, there were other uses listed that both Director of Planning and Zoning Paul Conner, LaLonde, and the Board felt could use a bit of narrowing or possible elimination from the list altogether. These included airport/airport uses, a bar or nightclub (concern would be parking at Central School and the potential for vandalism to occur), fraternity or sorority house, industry/light manufacturing/research facility or laboratory/warehouse, included but not limited to such uses involving hazardous or explosive materials. The proximity of service stations to schools is also being considered as a prohibited use due to potential exposure to explosions. 

David Young reminded the Board that there are students who often leave campus for internships and to be mindful of restricting certain businesses that could provide those types of opportunities. 

After the opportunity to look over the documents LaLonde presented, Dan Fleming said some of the prohibited uses are going to be tough to justify and added that the document needed a statement of purpose to expose its underlying rationale. Also, investigation needs to occur regarding the prohibited uses to assure that the District is not running afoul of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).  

LaLonde will continue to work with Conner and Young to fine-tune the document and shore up details so that it is, ideally, ready for presentation to the Planning Commission in November. 

SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent