Wards 4 & 7 Neighborhood Planning Assembly

Thursday July 17, 2008

Heineberg Center


Facilitator: Linda Deliduka
Note-taker: Greg Jenkins.
Time-Keeper: Steve McIntyre

6:45 Gathering and Sign in. ~~~You can also register to vote.~~~

7:00 Introductions, ground rules, agenda, minutes. [Minutes posted at end of agenda.]

7:10 Reports from Officials*

7:35 Open Forum for Residents*


~~~~BED, Integrated Resource Plan . Mary Sullivan

~~~~CEDO Legacy Plan. Jennifer Green, Wanda Hines

~~~~~BPD, Community Policing. Lt. Bovat

8:25 Questions, Comments, Discussion*

8:55 Announcements*

*Brief statements. Time for more lengthy discussion on issues of concern after the meeting.

~Participate in Project Porchlight! Pick up your free low-energy bulb and replace your porchlight!

~Sign up for Front Porch Forum to connect with neighbors and find out what’s up in your neighborhood.

Meeting Notes, June 19, 2008
Susan Wheeler, note-taker.

The meeting was called to order at 7 pm. Steering Committee members present included Marga Kempner, Jon Flint, Linda Deliduka, Lea Terhune, Steve McIntyre, Senada Sokocevic, Alan Sousie, Susan Wheeler, Ron McGarvey and Mike Beganyi. Facilitator, Lea Terhune; Note-taker, Susan Wheeler; Time-Keeper, Linda Deliduka.

MINUTES: After introductions, Thea Knight moved to accept the meeting notes/minutes of the May meeting. Susan Wheeler seconded the motion. Minutes were accepted.

Recruiters: Two residents are standing for election to the Steering Committee tonight. They are Michael Crane and Greg Jenkins.

~Russ Ellis, ward 4, nominated Michael Crane, ward 4. Seconded by Chuck Seleen, ward 4. Michael lives on Ivy Lane and is a consultant in community development and planning. He does planning for a living, thought he could do something for his neighborhood planning assembly, and is happy to do so.

~Alan Sousie, ward 7, nominated Greg Jenkins, ward 7. Seconded by Steve McIntyre, ward 7. Greg has lived on Rivermont Terrace for 10 years, and feels it is time to step up to the plate and do what he can to make Burlington a better city.

Michael and Greg were unanimously elected to the Steering Committee, and welcomed with applause.


~Kurt Wright, President City Council, ward 7: Council will be voting on the city budget at the next meeting. The good news is that the city budget is level funded for the second year in a row, and for the first time we have made a commitment to our senior centers. The bad news is that CEDO [Community Economic Development Organization] didn’t fund Ita’s position at CCAN [Center for Communities and Neighborhoods], and the Council wants to cover her position for one year to give CEDO a chance to restore that funding. There will be a motion to divert that funding from CCAN to senior centers, but most councilors feel the NPAs need a support person to continue their work in the community and that is a big part of Ita’s job. // Streets and sidewalks are always a big issue, and Council will be considering a bond or a dedicated tax. Let Russ and I know what you think about that.

~Russ Ellis, Councilor, ward 4: Russ supports the budget, and funding for the NPA staff person. // There’s a request for the City to provide funding to produce a schematic for the new Moran building plan. // Russ is concerned that frequently the Council uses Executive Session to handle business. There are reasons for it, but Russ doesn’t think the reasons are always valid. If others question this also, they should let Russ or Kurt know that. Russ would like to see more open meetings and fewer executive sessions.

~Mark Larson, legislator, Vice Chair of Appropriations Committee, ward 7: Mark worked on getting 100K into the budget to support a demonstration project for a Senior Services hub at the Heineberg Senior Center. It will be a private/public partnership providing services so elderly people in the area can live independently in their homes longer. Mark credits Cathedral Square and Nancy Eldridge, ward 7, for this successful effort. And he credits a group of ward 4/7 residents who have been working for 2 years to generate support for mixed housing at the site of the state DMV property [Neighborhood Activity Center]. Ward 7 residents Linda Deliduka, Mark Larson and Nancy Eldridge met with Gerry Meyers, state Commissioner of Buildings and General Services, to promote this plan, and the Legislature passed a bill authorizing the state to explore sale of the property for senior housing, mixed use commercial and housing, with criteria for evaluating the proposal. State also wants to get fair market value, and keep DMV on site. An RFP [request for proposals] will go out this summer. The site features proximity to services and public transit. // The joint fiscal committee is meeting to develop proposals around the rising cost of food and fuel.

Q: Gigi Weisman asked why staff had to leave the DMV building on North Ave. A: Mark said the building was overcrowded, and Alan Sousie (Board of Health) added that staff was relocated and there are no structural problems in the building.

~Alan Sousie, Chairman, Board of Health, ward 7: The citizen group that is paying attention to the mixed housing plan for the DMV property meets regularly and anyone with ideas or interest in the project is encouraged to come forward. The resident group wants to help move this project forward in a way that is constructive for everyone involved. Mark added that the citizen group is partnering with the coalition that will make this happen, Kurt offered that the housing bill also supported this, and City Council voted unanimously to support the idea and sent a resolution to the legislature.

~Ralph Montefusco, Planning Commission, ward 4: Ralph said that Peter Potts is resigning from the Planning Commission, and tonight is our last go at him in that role! Amid applause, Alan called for a Standing Ovation which was enthusiastically followed by more and longer applause.

Lea commented that we won’t need a break at our assembly meetings, just frequent applause and standing ovations for our hard-working officials.

Alan, on behalf of the Board of Health, reminded us that each landowner is responsible for her/his own property. He pointed out that we can wash our cars on the lawn, we should follow our dog and pick up after them, and we mustn’t use fertilizer/herbicides on or lawn because it washes into the lake and pollutes. The Board of Health is going to educate and encourage people to make their environment safer.

Ita Meno, neighborhood development specialist, spoke about the role of CCAN, and the various activities her office does to make Burlington a great place to live. Support for NPAs is high on the list, also graffiti removal, Neighborhood Improvement Night, and Green-Up day. [Applause.] C-CAN has 5 AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers that work with city non-profits and do a lot of really good work. Ita’s office helps residents organize to solve problems, and sometimes the problem is a development the economic development arm of CEDO is promoting! If a city department is committed to serving residents, there will be these conflicts at times. CEDO website has more information. Ita goes to a lot of meetings, and NPAs are the grassroots of city organizing.

Lea praised Ita’s staff for the excellent work they do training city leaders in Facilitative Leadership, and encouraged everyone to look for a chance to participate in one of these trainings. Lea called for a standing ovation for Ita and her CCAN team.


Lea thanked Steve Jaramillo for his work producing our meetings for Ch 17, and reminded people to include the at home audience when addressing the group.

Alan Sousie made a motion: The NPA approve and permit the redistribution of grant funds given to the Heneberg Senior/Community Center for the original purpose of renovating the bathrooms to the following alternative uses: repair the electrical problems in the assembly hall kitchen, purchase of materials and installation of a utility sink, repair/replacement of the exterior building trim and use all the remaining funds for any other capital project(s) prioritized by the Center's Buildings and Grounds Committee. Second by Steve McIntyre. Gigi Weisman asked if the women’s bathroom is accessible. Alan explained that it accommodates a wheel chair, but it does not meet code. If renovations are done, the facility will have to meet code, which would be costly so the money will be transferred to another capital project, like electrical wiring in the kitchen. Gigi Weisman could not support the motion; she feels full accessibility for the handicapped is a priority. The motion passed with one dissenting vote.

Mark Larson wanted to announce a meeting called by DPW to discuss the pilot closing of the 127 slip ramp on North Ave. T he meeting will be next week. Mike Beganyi, ward 7, added that the location is North Avenue Alliance Church and urged people who are interested in safety for cyclists, pedestrians and cars to come and voice their concerns.

Tom Papp, President of Strathmore Association and resident of ward 4 addressed flaws in the Code Enforcement process related to fairness, accountability and cost to taxpayers. The first flaw is that the process is complaint driven which incorrectly assumes residents are experts in the Codes, are willing to rat on a neighbor and able to observe a violation as well as a trained inspector, and has the time to spend on this. The second flaw is that developers are on the honor system to call Code Enforcement when they are ready for inspection and occupancy permit. As Strathmore and Westlake have demonstrated, this is flawed reasoning! Nobody’s on the honor system, nobody is obeying it, and people are moving into properties without permanent CO’s [certificates of occupancy] and then have problems when they want to sell or refinance their homes. Properties are therefore devalued or undervalued, which lowers the tax base. The third flaw is that code enforcement is slow, ineffective and unfair. Westlake is an example of this. Developer was financially rewarded for NOT following the rules. There is a cost to taxpayers. Strathmore Board has dealt with this for 20 years. We all have to work together to solve the problem. Why do we bother to have DRB write permits and conditions if we don’t enforce them? This demonstrates that enforcement is selective, unequal, and unfair! Final question: how much will we sell out our principles for NEXT TIME? Simple solution: eliminate temporary CO’s, brand new unit must have a final CO before title – no final CO, no sale! Q: Resident asked Tom where he wants to go with this? A, Tom: Fee payment, then inspection, no title transfer until final inspection. Tom would like to see Strathmore have permanent CO’s by the end of the year.

Steve McIntyre, Open Government Committee, ward 7, put the work of the committee at his web site, NewNorthEnded.com. Steve encouraged people to go there, and post comments.

Bob Schwartz, Rebuild Together, ward 4, suggested that Alan contact his group for help with the renovations at the Heineberg Center to stretch the funds further.

Greg Jenkins, ward 7, recently drove the NEV – Neighborhood Electrical Vehicle – which sells for $10K and costs about $100 a year to run! It fits two people, is fully safe, goes 25 mph, will serve local driving needs, and Greg recommends it highly.

Mike Beganyi, ward 7, added that his wheels are outside, cost a lot less tan $10K, and cost nothing to run (bicycle). Mike told us about the Transit Committee Meeting which is looking at a ballot advisory to plan for expanded public transit. For more information, contact Mike or Mary Sullivan.

Tom and Carley are volunteers with Project Porchlight. They will be distributing low energy compact fluorescent bulbs to every household in Burlington. This can represents a saving of $1.75 million in a year in Chittenden County, or $80 per household. They urged everyone to Be Green and Save Money! The project is sponsored by BED and Efficiency Vermont. They are going door-to-door to talk with people. Residents are encouraged to volunteer.

The program theme is Overview of Development in the North End. Lea introduced Peter Potts, Chair of the Planning Commission; Scott Gustin, Senior Planner with Planning and Zoning; Larry Kupferman, Director of CEDO; and Sue Prim, representing N7, seven neighborhoods who have been grappling with large developments recently.

Peter Potts: Peter held up a copy of the Municipal Development Plan, told us how to get a copy or read it on-line, and explained that it includes plans that are incorporated in it by reference as well [Open Space Protection Plan, Transportation Plan, Consolidated Plan]. MDP looks 10-20 years down the road, and it is the tool that governs development. It is prepared by the Planning Commission, adopted by City Council, and is then submitted to the Regional Planning Commission for approval [compliance with regional plan]. The MDP prepares the city for growth, provides a reliable basis for investment, contains goals and objectives, guides decision-making by review boards. It contains policies, programs and actions to achieve objectives. Zoning Ordinance has to be consistent with the MDP. The current administration is addressing the backlog of capital improvement projects, like repairs to City Hall. There are specific plans for different areas of the city. The city is always re-evaluating the plans, policies and programs. A comprehensive rewrite will de done shortly. Stay tuned, and be prepared to speak up! The PC will be bringing the draft to the NPA and they want input from residents.

Scott Gustin. Scott prepared a brief overview of the Development Review Process. Any land development in Burlington requires a zoning permit. New construction, exterior alterations, sometimes changes in use. Three steps: Development Review Board reviews all areas of permits, including subdivisions, prd’s, signs, fences and awnings, with advisory review by Conservation and Design boards. Uses are either permitted [YES], conditional [MAYBE, depending on the impacts], or NO [not permitted]. DRB is quasi-judicial, decision is binding, and board is bound to implement policy set by ordinance. Staff doesn’t get involved in conditional uses or variances. Advisory decisions and conditions from the two advisory boards – Design, and Conservation (storm water, natural area impacts) – are nonbinding but the DRB generally adheres to them. DRB can only approve applications that comply completely with the applicable bylaws or state laws, and can only levy conditions authorized by bylaws or state laws. If a project meets all the applicable criteria, DRB must grant approval. Staff interprets things literally; and, as with DRB, personal opinion cannot weigh in and there can be no conflict of interest. After application, there are 30 days for staff to determine whether an application is complete. Timetable for DRB decision is 45 days after public hearing is closed, otherwise project is deemed approved. There is a 30 day appeal period, to environmental court at state level; or, 10 days for administrative permit, appeal to DRB. DRB notice is 15 days, in newspaper, mailing to abutters and posting on the property with Z-Card, posted on the day of permit application. The planning office maintains a log of all active permits in the system, online, which is updated daily at 8am. Old and new zoning regulations are also online, as well as information about process, fees, etc.

Larry Kupferman, director of CEDO. Will address “preserve and enhance neighborhoods” during question period. Larry held up the Consolidated Plan, the document that governs much of what CEDO does. Larry recently became Director, and his knowledge of the job is growing daily. He polled his staff on role of CEDO in the city. CEDO is charged in the city primarily to watch and help grow the tax base, the economic development side of things, so the city doesn’t grow to need a level of services the city can’t provide – police, fire, DPW, Parks&Rec. They hear ideas and promote growth in areas of the city where it can grow the property tax base as well as items that are specifically targeting in the Consolidated Plan. Federal funding comes from HUD (Housing and Urban Development), and involves: decent housing; expanded economic opportunities including job opportunities and retention; and thirdly, a suitable living environment = neighborhood revitalization, stability, sustainability and support. An aspect integral to the Consolidated Plan, CDBG [Community Development Block Grant], is that it is a very public process. There’s a board of selected citizens including residents, with NPA participation, and the board decides how the HUD money will be spent, with an oversight and approval process and recommendation to City Council. CEDO is also the seat of governance, the city engagement part of the Plan. C-CAN is part of CEDO, and there is tension in the department between economic development and the scrutiny of those efforts, because CCAN involves public scrutiny of efforts by CEDO to develop density and things like senior bonus. It’s a tension Larry is comfortable with.

Sue Prim, Staniford Rd member of N7, resident of ward 4, longtime lifetime resident of Burlington. Appletree Point is an oasis in the city, abundant with wetlands, streams, woods, wildlife, and a historic farmhouse surrounded by 7 neighborhood areas near Burlington’s bikepath that make up N7. Sue introduced Bob Schwartz, facilitator of the N7 Summit. Bob explained that the 7 neighborhood areas include Appletree Point Farm; Appletree Point West Shore; Strathmore; Sunset Cliffs/Starr Farm east shore; Pleasant/Curtis/Starr Farm Rds.; Western/Staniford Rds and Oakdale Terrace areas; and Shore Road and Crescent Woods neighborhoods. N7 doesn’t indiscriminately oppose development. It’s priorities are: protection of sensitive natural features; prevention of over-development of properties that include sensitive and unbuildable areas; assurance that a new development fits within the existing scale and intensity of surrounding neighborhoods; and, above all, compliance with the Municipal Development Plan and related statutes.

Sue proceeded with a power point presentation: Burlington was a beautiful example of “smart growth.” Noah Maslan wrote a masters thesis in city planning for MIT describing how Burlington did it – with the guidance of Burlingtonians and City Council, working together, neighborhoods and city officials. Residents got together, at meetings just like this one, and asked “What can we do to protect our neighborhoods and open space from future development? How do we direct growth to appropriate locations?” Neighborhood Activity Centers and Open Space Protection Plan were born. The Neighborhood Activity Center concept is part of the Municipal Development Plan, which is the law. All land use and development must be in conformance with the policies and directives found in the MDP. The MDP is the law. The MDP targets appropriate areas for density. In the north end, growth is targeted and guided into the NACs. NACs are the appropriate areas for density, with defined boundaries that prevent encroachment of density into the rest of the neighborhoods. The city will draw infill development into these areas, creating the new urban village with transit, bicycle and pedestrian access. The proposed Appletree Point development is far removed from the NACs. The new urban village NAC option at Ethan Allen Shopping Center and Leddy Park is where infill development belongs, not on Appletree Point. We’ve lost most of the open space on Appletree Point, and it is featured in the Open Space Protection Plan. We must remain vigilant or we will lose more. Quality environment is critical to maintaining healthy neighborhoods. Sue dedicated her presentation to “our friend, neighbor and colleague, Roger Secker-Walker.”


Q: Thea asked for an update on the application for Appletree Point.
A: Scott Gustin explained that the public hearing remains open, and it has been recessed indefinitely. DRB interim deliberation resulted in unfavorable feedback to the developer, and he is planning to make substantial revisions in the application and start the process all over again. Nothing has been scheduled, and nothing additional has been submitted about storm water.

Q: Larry K. had a question about the [N7] presentation: understanding the difference between guiding and mandating, and the role of private property in the MDP. It’s puzzling to me what guiding means, when the underlying basis of our economy is private property gives people privileges and responsibilities? What does GUIDE mean in the Municipal Plan?
A: Peter said it is less than mandate, guidance, is what we would like to see, this is the direction that we think is best.
Sue: NACs are areas where there is already development -- bus lines, shopping centers. It does not mean to sprawl out into existing neighborhoods. NACs are designed to draw in the density, so guide density to the NACS, not to sprawl into neighborhoods that already exist.

Alan Sousie cited the recent work of ward 4/7 residents who got together to guide development to the NAC as an example. The state DMV property is already in a designated NAC, all the amenities are already in place. It makes sense to direct density there.

Q: Cliff Cooper went to most of the [Appletree] development review meetings, and he asked himself “How did it get to this? Hold it up to the stink test – does this smell right? A developer put down thousands to file this application, the city took his money, the developer said “We’ve been encouraged to do this,” and Cliff has been trying to find out WHO encouraged this? He sits there as a taxpayer and city citizen and wonders why somebody didn’t stand up and say NO to this developer? City and taxpayers have spent so much money on this, as well as the developer spending a lot of money. We’ve gone through this whole process, for what? WHO ENCOURAGED THIS? Cliff asked for an answer.
A: Larry K. said he did not have an answer.
Q: Renee Lauber pointed out that the MDP is a guiding vision as to how development needs to be done in the city, and if we direct development away from NACs, we risk losing the benefits that NACs can offer to us as a city, as taxpayers
A: Larry K said that encouraging a developer does not mean he wasn’t directed to look at an NAC, but if somebody comes in with a property that they own, CEDO’s responsibility is to help them explore options for their property. Property in the NAC is owned by a reputable developer, but he hasn’t come forth.

Q: Art Frank told Larry that what he said disturbs him greatly: a developer can develop whatever he wants? We have zoning laws.
A: Larry said a person can build what he wants as long as he follows the zoning law.
Art said he hopes a developer can’t come in to an established neighborhood and change it. Art bought his home in an established neighborhood and he expects it to stay that way.

Q: Martha said it doesn’t feel fair for a developer to have to pay money when the city already knows the project isn’t going to fly. Somebody needs to tell a developer up front that what is proposed doesn’t fit with the Municipal Plan. Did anyone have an up front, honest discussion with the developer?
A: Scott Gustin said that planning staff did meet with the Appletree Point developer, and they told him that character of the neighborhood and relationship to the built environment would be a problem. Applicant didn’t want to do sketch plan review, and was advised of the risk he was taking.

Q: Alan Sousie, asked Scott whether DRB is elected or appointed?
A: Scott said appointed.
Q: Alan asked why a development at Franklin Square did not come before the public? He’s not opposed to it, but why wasn’t the public involved?
A: Scott said it was a major impact project; it was notified and heard under the old zoning ordinance 2 years ago; it was approved, and they had a year to start the project.

Q: John Foss said the process is what troubles him, and others who want to trust the process. The application was done under the old regs (Dec ’07) and the simple words for Conditional Use are clear -- you don’t get a conditional use if you can build what is allowed. On page 6 of the permit application, applicant says they can build what the property is zoned for, but they want to do something else. Given the very straightforward language of the zoning regs, how does this not get to a very quick up or down vote? On page 13 of that application, they make a specific request for final approval of the conditional use application. It seems very straightforward to vote it down. How does it get to a process that reviews everything in the application? How did it get to where it is now? If you read the application and read the ordinance they decided to file under, you can’t get to anything but a down vote. Can someone get back to us about how this happened?
A: Larry K. doesn’t understand the question, is it about the DRB process? He didn’t attend any review hearings, maybe the answer is in the notes of those meetings. He doesn’t know how to get an answer to that question.
Q: John asks someone to look at page 13 where the applicant asks for conditional use approval, and on page 6 where they say they can build what is allowed, and then on the front, the request for variance and conditional use. John can’t see how the process can continue one more day?
A: Scott said the DRB could have denied it, but they chose to continue it. Because it is a major impact project, staff has no discretion. It’s entirely up to the DRB.

Lea wrapped up, saying that the NPA invites city officials to our meetings so people can get to know them. They are accessible, and people are encouraged to take questions directly to them.

ANNOUNCEMENTS included reminder to pick up light bulbs as you leave the meeting, that slip ramp issues will be heard by DPW at a meeting next week, and that the upcoming NPA meetings include a program about the city’s energy plan and community policing in July; a cookout in August; a program about the Open Government Committee Report to City Council in September; and Candidates Night in October.

Meeting adjourned at 9 pm.