While both Burton and Higher Ground are highly rated Burlington area businesses, the city council decision to place a 1,500-person concert venue in the South End of Burlington in the middle of a residential area has left me scratching my head. Huge crowds exiting late (up to 2 a.m.) at night over inadequate residential streets, more than 120 times per year, seems better placed in the downtown area.

I need to mention that I spent 7 years as a staff person for the city council of Burlington serving progressive, independent and republican councilors while living in the Five Sisters neighborhood of Ward 5. I worked on many issues with councilors and other residents including stopping the poorly designed Southern Connector.

What I learned and admired most was how strong councilors informed, rallied and led constituents to make local government work for them. Given that experience, I was shocked to see how little was done to mobilize those neighborhoods that will be directly impacted by the zoning change and alter the lives of the individuals and families who live adjacent to this manufacturing/industrial zone.

In my opinion, the 11-1 city council vote to approve this change was an exercise in poor judgement, a disservice to my neighbors and friends who would be impacted forever by government representation that did not seek their opinion through surveys, neighborhood meetings, canvassing etc. Why? It looks like the result of apathetic government over the quality of life needs of residents. It also appears to be the triumph of a “party” vision over the needs of people to enjoy their evenings and nights at home and get the peace and quiet they deserve as workers and taxpayers.

What next? First, take a deep breath and realize this is not over. Second, know that your opinion, energy & support matter. Third, get involved. The Burlington development review board is in the midst of hearing the application for this concert venue and the next meeting is virtual at 5 p.m. on Aug. 4. Consider attending the meeting to learn about the issues and how this project will impact the south end neighborhoods.

Mark Furnari

South Burlington

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