South Burlington is moving in the direction that the residents of this community laid out before us: a balance between (1) affordability, (2) walkability, (3) environmental sustainability to make us green and clean, and (4) economic development because we are opportunity-oriented. These are the four goals of our City’s Comprehensive Plan, envisioned by our residents and approved by our Planning Commission and City Council in 2016. One of these goals should not be sacrificed for another. We need to meet all four.
- Affordable and Community Strong: In a very expensive County, we continue to be the most affordable. So far outpacing our neighboring communities in the construction of affordable housing, we need to continue to invest in our housing infrastructure and neighborhoods to provide entry-level owner-occupied housing and homes for all of our residents at every stage of life. By building more apartments and owner-occupied condos in areas close to our universities, services, and businesses, we will lighten the pressure on our housing stock that serves the “missing middle.” Because the newly approved land-use regulations provide for a development potential of at least 1200 new homes in our southeastern quadrant, we will further relieve that pressure, without encroaching on our wetlands or forests.
- Walkable: Over the past five years we have seen the beginning of more that is to come. Our new City Center is walkable and bikable, with more improvements in the works for Williston and Hinesburg Roads, connecting adjacent neighborhoods to services, businesses, and amenities like our new City Center Park. The Penny for Paths initiative, passed by voters in 2018, has so far leveraged $1.125 million in state and federal funding to expand our bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, including bike lanes, sidewalks, crosswalks, and shared-use paths.
- Green and Clean: In 2018, the Council approved a three-party transaction to preserve Auclair Farm as a working landscape, to be used as farmland into perpetuity. The new land-use regulations are also a big step forward in realizing regional sustainability. They will protect our wetlands and impaired streams and conserve our wildlife habitats, which are critical to our food protection and drinking water supply.
- Opportunity-Oriented: Since 2014, South Burlington’s planning of public spaces has been recognized by industry leaders as examples in the state. In 2014, we won two Vermont Public Spaces Awards, “designed to ‘recognize special public spaces, the corridors that connect them, or networks of public spaces which have been defined or enriched by planning or design, as well as regulations that promote positive, public uses and benefits.” One was for the South Burlington Open Space Report and the other for City Center-Market Street Design. The Vermont Recreation and Parks Award recognized the Market Street’s Stormwater Park with a Facility of Merit Award in 2018, and in 2021 our City Center Park won a merit award from the Vermont Public Places Awards Program. Our City Center, combined with our airport, technology and business parks, and core to the “opportunity zone” adjacent to the interstate, makes us not only one of the largest employment centers with new and growing businesses but also a prime location for new start-ups and economic development.
We are a community that has thrived in our search for balance, sound management, excellence in service, and new opportunities to learn and do better. We are a municipal partner and leader in the region. We are forward-looking, looking to benefit future generations of residents with responsible planning that grows our economy while enhancing our quality of life and promoting sustainability. These are values that are and have always been core to my service. Thank you for your confidence in me thus far. I have worked hard to earn it and so I do ask for your vote on March 1 to be able to continue to work toward all our goals as one of your City Councilors.