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Burlington City Councilors approve review of appraisal process fairness

Burlington City Hall
WAMC
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Burlington City Hall

Among the items the Burlington, Vermont City Council reviewed during its meeting this week were short-term rentals and a proposal to review the fairness of the city’s reappraisal process.

Councilors started their meeting with a work session to hear updates from the planning department on proposed changes to Short Term Rental regulations proposed by the ordinance committee. City Planner Meagan Tuttle said there have been four key changes made to proposed policy changes that were first presented to the council in July.

“The first is that the committee eliminated the provisions to allow for off site hosting of short term rentals in most cases and they added a few new exemptions that didn’t exist before. The other change is that we have reduced the number of individual bedrooms that can be let as short term rentals in a dwelling unit. We have further eliminated bed-and-breakfast as a standalone use in the zoning ordinance. And in discussion with the committee about who is a short term rental host we have provided some additional language.”

Following the work session councilors unanimously endorsed Tuttle, nominated by Democratic Mayor Miro Weinberger, to serve as the city’s Planning Director.

“I’m passionate about being part of the collective work to build on Burlington’s uniqueness, guide its growth and contribute to our community being a more inclusive, resilient and better connected city. As you all know the planning department’s role has been transforming over the last several years. I’m excited and look forward to the opportunity to lead the next chapter in our department by bringing together the multidisciplinary perspective of long range planning with the cross-departmental focus on data to help address our city’s top priorities.”

Tuttle is the first woman in the role.

This year all property in the city of Burlington was reappraised and most homeowners’ assessments increased significantly. More than 600 appeals were filed. Ward 3 Progressive Joe Magee sponsored a resolution to review the reappraisal process and its fairness.

“Through the process laid out in this resolution we’ll be able to examine whether or not it makes sense for us to do more frequent reappraisals to avoid such dramatic shifts in the tax burden; look at improvements to the process through which we select the consultant who carries out the work; identify ways for us to increase access and the understanding of the appeals process to remove the added stress that was experienced by homeowners and determine whether or not the city can do better to communicate the impacts of reappraisal so that people know what to expect. The second main goal of this resolution is to acknowledge the inequity that exists in our property tax system.”

During public comment several general aviation concerns at the Burlington International Airport criticized a proposed contract with leaseholder Beta Technologies. Chris Weinberg is a flight instructor, aircraft owner and pilot technology professor at Vermont Technical College.

“I would ask that the City Council consider the lack of transparency and how this has transpired and seek additional details. And I would encourage the City Council to speak with the broad stakeholders of the airport including the general aviation community.”

Later in the meeting, Acting Airport Director Nic Longo assured city leaders the contract in question would not affect the general aviation sector at the airport.

“This particular item on the agenda is a license agreement to utilize vacant land of the airport. This license agreement does not impact any of the existing tenant’s airfield aeronautical tenants at the Burlington International Airport.”