The South Burlington Development Review Board enforces all Land Development Regulations (LDRs). It is certainly true that DRB members, either individually or collectively, may disagree with some sections of the LDRs as written by the planning commission and approved by the city council. However, a project that meets all the standards established in the city’s LDRs has not and will not be rejected by the DRB, despite any misgivings about the underlying regulation allowing the development to occur. Similarly, projects that don’t comply with the LDRs are not approved, even those that are broadly considered “good” projects.
We often tell those who attend development review board meetings that we do not have the power to change South Burlington’s Land Development Regulations, that we can only enforce what is on the books. We tell interested parties that only the planning commission and the city council has the power to change the LDRs.
That is why the letter signed by all seven members of the DRB which raised legitimate concerns about the removal of minimum parking standards should be treated seriously. It should not be considered “unusual” or “uncomfortable.” It is entirely appropriate for the experts who are tasked with enforcing the law to offer their thoughts on the consequences of such a change. The DRB is not asking for veto power, just common courtesy. It is quite possible that if minimum parking standards are removed, we will have no choice but to approve developments that do not adequately address the need for parking and will negatively impact their neighbors. We will encourage those affected parties to take their concerns to the planning commission and the city council in order to change the law. But by then it will be too late.
We have a better idea. Let’s fix it now before it becomes law. Let’s make sure we reduce parking where appropriate, but not so that it negatively impacts our neighbors. The DRB has and will continue to work on a compromise that achieves this goal. It is entirely appropriate for the city council to hear what we have to say.
Chair, South Burlington Development Review Board