To the Editor:

On Nov. 15, Shelburne’s selectboard will hold a special hearing to consider removing the mixed residential character district from form-based code zoning. This is hopefully the final step in a dysfunctional 15-month journey that the mixed residential character district residents have endured.

Through Shelburne’s hired consultant, we learned form-based code is appropriate for encouraging revitalization or development within specific areas: usually downtowns, or major roads to and from downtowns. For Shelburne, form-based code made sense given many abandoned businesses north of town along Route 7.

Other towns in Chittenden County have similarly used targeted form-based code zoning: Burlington’s downtown; Winooski’s three roads leading into the traffic circle; and in South Burlington for its main roads and commercial centers. Williston just implemented it for Taft Corners.

But why was the mixed residential character district included within Shelburne’s implementation? This is a well-established residential area, the farthest corner of Shelburne from downtown, not on a major roadway. Form-based code allows for 24-unit, 3.5 floor apartment buildings. Why would we want to encourage this type of development in an established single-family-home neighborhood, where most residents have lived for decades and invested their life savings into their homes?

Mixed residential character district residents created two petitions asking to remedy this, together they have at least 1,250 signatures. The town dismissed both petitions on technicalities. The residents also repeatedly requested interim zoning to halt this. The town also dismissed this several times. It’s telling that about 75 percent of Shelburne residents we approached signed our petitions. The remaining 25 percent was roughly split between people who didn’t agree or didn’t feel informed enough to sign.

Shelburne has an excellent town plan. Zoning and town officials are supposed to support the comprehensive plan, yet form-based code has numerous conflicts: rate of allowed population growth, hierarchy of residential density and ensuring new development doesn’t negatively impact existing neighborhoods.

Clearly, the present proposal by Crombach and Brandon conflicts with all three. It’s inevitable that more development proposals would follow with similar issues.

The affected residents request the selectboard vote to remove the mixed residential character district from form-based code. We all support more diverse housing, but within the scale and character of established neighborhoods. The selectboard was elected by and has a responsibility to act upon the wishes of its constituents, not for the sake of a few landowners. Do the right thing on Nov. 15.

Pete Serisky


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