Resident Participation Key in Chamberlin/BTV Planning Project

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Thursday September 18, 2014

At the September 15 City Council meeting Director of Planning and Zoning Paul Conner gave an update on the Chamberlin neighborhood/airport area transportation and land use planning project.

This neighborhood project is an outgrowth of nearly a year of organization that began in December 2013 with the first phase of a planning process focused on future uses for the properties adjacent to the Burlington International Airport left vacant by the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) home buyout program. The initial planning process was supported by a $17,000 Municipal Planning Grant, which was awarded to South Burlington by the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development. A $4,500 match from the City of South Burlington was made and planning was set to begin in 2014.

In February, Conner presented council with a work plan for the Chamberlin neighborhood/BTV project.

A grant from the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission (CCRPC) in the amount of $150,000 helped move the project along. Once the city had secured the additional grant, pre-planning concepts including a vision statement, project team, oversight committee structures, and objectives were presented to council in August. Council received public input and implemented a few changes to the draft.

In his update on Monday night, Conner outlined short, medium, and long term objectives that have been identified to strengthen the neighborhood, retain affordability of housing and help develop a vision and strategy for long term co-existence of the Airport and the Chamberlin area.

Conner also discussed the potential compostion of the two groups responsible for project oversight. A project team would be made up of city and school staff and administrators as well as a consultant team. A planning committee of 15 members would consist of a mix of residents, Burlington and South Burlington airport commissioners, a planning commission member, appointments made by City Council and the school district, and an appointment made by the City of Burlington.

The amended outline presented at the September 15 meeting resulted in robust debate among councilors and members of the public alike. While both groups were in agreement about the objectives of the project (developing a vision and long range strategy for noise abatement, land use, transportation, parks and streetscapes, and retaining affordable housing), there was disagreement regarding the number of representatives from each neighborhood that would serve on the planning committee.

Kevin Dorn presented a map of the airport neighborhood divided into four quadrants. Several councilors pointed to areas such as Lime Kiln Road and Millham Court that are affected by the airport, but weren’t included in any of the zones. Resident Barbara Service said that her neighborhood area of Juniper Ridge and Summer Woods, is “just as impacted by the airport as anyone else” and asked that it be added to the map. Several residents expressed concern that there weren’t enough members from the neighborhood adjacent to the airport represented on the committee. Resident Carmine Sargeant said, “This neighborhood has been much more severely impacted than that on Patchen Road...property values have gone down, we’ve lost neighbors. The representation is not balanced. I think the representation should be weighted toward those that are most impacted.”

After much debate at the council meeting, a compromise was reached that would expand the initial map to include Juniper Ridge, Summer Woods, and Lime Kiln Road. Chamberlin Neighborhood Airport Planning Committee (CNAPC) resident representation was changed to include two members from Country Club Drive/Lime Kiln Road area, three from the Juniper Ridge area, and three from the neighborhood adjacent to the airport.

Helen Riehle made the motion to approve these changes, Meaghan Emery seconded and the decision was unanimous.

The city will begin the process to create the CNAPC. Council has directed staff to advertise for positions in The Other Paper as soon as possible.The current goal is to have a final report to the City Council with any land use recommendations sent to the planning commission for review by December 31, 2015.

SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent