Third Thursday NPA
Where the Action Is!Development density in ward4, Moran Plant redevelopment, an electric department bond issue to upgrade of the McNeil [woodchip] Plant, and the closing of a beltline exit ramp -- these issues brought energy to the room as people filled the upstairs of the Heineberg Center on “Third Thursday” NOVEMBER for a Neighborhood Planning Assembly.
It was a lively meeting, and residents had plenty to say. Chuck Seleen traced how the ward4 NPA developed the concept of Neighborhood Activity Centers where mixed use and medium density housing would be concentrated to preserve neighborhood character and protect open space in the New North End. Following a passionate description of how his neighborhood is threatened with becoming an institutionalized bonus housing area, Bob Schwartz, w4, was applauded, nominated from the floor, and unanimously elected to the Steering Committee of the NPA with fellow residents Carol Jaramillo and Jon Flint. The Steering Committee creates meeting agendas, facilitates meetings, and guides the assembly in crafting resolutions to advise the city of residents’ concerns and needs.
Open Forum and Zoning Rewrite elicited many concerns about development pressures on residential areas. Several residents were staunchly opposed to bonus density. Other agenda items drew generally supportive comment. There were questions about costs associated with redeveloping the Moran Plant, but the concept was favorably received. The eco-friendly crowd liked the wood chip plant stack scrubber upgrade. Residents accept the ramp closing for the reasons of safety and traffic calming, and have good ideas about how to improve the corridor. Paul Kempner suggested a one-lane bike commuter lane, which drew applause. Holly Hauser raised the topic of pesticide and herbicide use, and circulated dramatic photos of suspicious outflow entering the lake through culverts. The chairman of the Board of Health was facilitating the meeting, so Holly’s presentation went directly to the person most likely to do something about it.
There were many city officials in attendance at this meeting, and available for discussion afterward: Wally Elliott, w4, School Board; Barb Grimes, w4, General Manager, Burlington Electric; Steve Goodkind, w7 Director, Public Works; Peter Potts, Chair, w4, Planning and Zoning; Alan Sousie, w7, Chair, Board of Health; Margaret Gunderson and Bob Herendeen, w4, Commissioners of Public Works; and City Councilors Russ Ellis w4, Kurt Wright w4, and Paul Decelles, w7.
Presentations were brief and discussion was repeatedly cut short in the interest of moving the agenda along. Later, in the downstairs hospitality center, discussion continued and action plans took shape: a special meeting on density pressure and preservation of neighborhood character; circulating a petition to block bonus housing which encourages overbuilding in residential areas; and confronting CEDO on it's vision of growth that is out of focus with what residents here see for the future of their neighborhoods.