Thursday February 06, 2014
For the past three years, I’ve devoted much of my life to serving you--the residents of South Burlington. I learned so much from you and I want to continue working on your behalf, but not as a city councilor.
I moved to Vermont in 2008 for reasons that are likely shared by other “flatlanders” -- to live in a spectacularly beautiful state whose people cherish, respect, and preserve the natural environment. But then shortly after moving to SB, I started noticing the destruction of open space by the kinds of development I had witnessed in other places I’ve lived.
How was this was happening here? I reviewed state and local surveys to see if I had misjudged the state’s values. Each one showed that most Vermonters want what I want — to preserve our rural landscapes; to improve our air, water and soil quality; to conserve resources and energy; to live in safe and peaceful neighborhoods. They also expressed concern that we are slowly destroying it all by irresponsible over-development. Environmental leaders advise us to stop growing, and start focusing on repairing, upgrading, and maintaining; and to conserve, and protect our resources, and work toward sustainability.
So, I decided to run for city council to further those values. I didn’t realize what I was getting into.
The council I joined inherited multiple lawsuits, and severe financial and personnel problems. We settled or nearly settled most of these by the time I left as chair. In addition to routine council work, the 2011 and 2012 councils took on renewable energy, interim zoning, affordable housing, sustainable agriculture, form-based codes, complete streets, airport issues, dozens of development applications, neighborhood disputes, railroad crossings, library board and clerk issues, an open space property purchase, city center, a new TIF district, and the F-35A basing in SB.
One of the first things I did in 2011 was to suggest interim zoning, which was a method to put a temporary hold on development in order to get citizen input on what they wanted for their city. Over the two years that interim zoning has been in place, hundreds of residents, local business owners and developers met, talked, and shared their vision and ideas for SB. We are headed down the path to sustainability.
The past three years have been incredibly busy and stressful. I put my heart and soul, time and energy into working for the residents. I still intend to stay involved, but I need to re-establish balance in my life—just as I had advocated for balance between development and land conservation in SB.
But, I am worried I am letting down people who trusted me to help them: those living in the airport neighborhoods, whose questions and concerns about their homes have gone unanswered for years; those who are threatened by plans for developments in their back yards; those whose neighborhoods are trapped by traffic congestion; those who lament the loss of our open spaces. I intend to continue speaking up for residents, especially those less privileged or less able to speak for themselves.
South Burlington is my forever home; and it is worth my time and efforts. I hope others will join me. Together we can make our city a place that has it all: wide-open spaces to enjoy, land to grow food on, affordable houses for people of all incomes, and an inviting Vermont-style walkable downtown.
Thank you for giving me the chance to serve you. It has been an honor.
SOURCE: Rosanne Greco, City Councilor