I served as the Chair of South Burlington’s Open Space Interim Zoning (IZ) Committee and I wanted to take this opportunity to clarify a few misleading points that were made in the SmartGrowth South Burlington ad in the June 211 edition of The Other Paper.
First, the ad suggests that the processes that have been undertaken under Interim Zoning have not been conducted in a transparent manner. The Open Space IZ Committee met publicly every 2-4 weeks for nearly one year and all of the meetings were warned through the standard city procedures and venues. Additionally, we held three open forums for the public and presented updates to the City Council on several occasions.
Second, the SmartGrowth South Burlington ad characterizes the IZ Open Space Committee’s final report as “takings.” This is a disingenuous and divisive portrayal of our work. The City Council charged our committee with the “prioritization for conservation of existing open spaces, forest blocks, and working landscapes in South Burlington in the sustenance of our natural ecosystems, scenic viewsheds, and river corridors.” Our report identified parcels that will maintain and enhance the ecological integrity of South Burlington. We made no mention that the parcels were to be “taken” by the city. As we wrote in our report: “We must at the same time underscore that, without public ownership or a conservation easement, our priority parcels alone cannot hinder or prevent a land purchase and subsequent development.”
Finally, the SmartGrowth South Burlington ad states that South Burlington can have economic development while protecting the environment. Indeed, the city has taken the steps to provide a solid framework to protect the environment of South Burlington. Clean air, clean water, and open spaces have consistently been shown to be highly valued by our community. Rather than disparage the excellent work that the city and the community have done under Interim Zoning, let’s embrace this foundational work and strive to maintain the environmental quality of South Burlington.
If you want to read more about the Interim Zoning Open Space Committee’s work, you can go to the City’s web page.