Mayor and Environmental Groups Urge Passage Of Burlington Ballot Questions

Oct 26, 2016

There are six questions on the city of Burlington’s ballot in November.  Mayor Miro Weinberger and key environmentalists met recently to urge voters to pass four of the questions related to the development proposal for the downtown core.

The ballot questions pertain to downtown zoning that will impact the proposed Burlington Town Center and infrastructure including streets, sidewalks and the Bike Path.

Question 1 asks voters to approve general obligation bonds for capital plan projects. The second question pursues authority to issue revenue bonds for water system improvements.  Question 3 asks voters to adopt the new zoning for the downtown core and the fourth seeks authorization for the city council to repay debt or make payments for the Pine and St. Paul Streets acquisitions and the Cherry and Bank Streets upgrades.

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger stood at the corner of Cherry and Battery streets overlooking the eight-block area that is the focus of the Burlington Town Center redevelopment proposal.  Weinberger said renovation of the aging 1970’s-style mall to a mixed use neighborhood has the potential to create numerous environmental benefits.   “There is great urgency to the decision before us. On November 8th we have an opportunity as a community to take meaningful steps to protect the climate and take meaningful steps to protect the lake. If we miss that opportunity on November 8th I don’t believe we will get it back for a long time.”

The mayor brought some of the leading environmental advocates in the state with him to convince voters to vote yes on Questions 3 and 4.   Conservation Law Foundation Vermont Director Chris Kilian urged city voters to take this opportunity to change the zoning in order to create the right regulatory environment for the project to move forward.   “This zoning district and this project present a wonderful vision of a city working with nature setting a visionary standard.  This is an opportunity to start to really address the problems in the lake and set an example of an environmentally sustainable approach and creating the liveability benefits that come along with a lot more green space and a lot more pleasant city experience.”

Peter Clavelle served seven terms as the city’s mayor and wrote an environmental vision for the city called “Legacy.”   He now works on sustainable development projects around the world.  “For me a yes vote on questions 1,2,3 and 4 on the November ballot really will significantly advance Burlington’s quest to become a more sustainable community.  We need to develop today without undermining the ability the capacity of future generations to develop this community.”

The mayor and environmental advocates say approval of the ballot items would reduce the city’s carbon footprint and energy consumption as the new zoning requires LEED Gold construction standards.  

Additional ballot questions ask voters to approve a bike path relocation and change the city charter to clarify the city council’s power regarding its oversight of parking.