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Burlington City Council holds brief meeting following Town Meeting Day elections

Burlington City Hall
Pat Bradley/WAMC
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Burlington City Hall (file)

The Burlington, Vermont City Council met Monday night with only one item on its deliberative agenda.

In its first meeting since Town Meeting Day, the city council moved quickly through committee and councilor reports. All public comments were related to the council’s passage of an ordinance at the last meeting placing restrictions on Short Term Rentals in the city. Resident Abbott Stark said he initially agreed with that council action but has since heard from many residents about the measure’s implications for low-income renters.

“I’d ask that you reconsider and allow for a broader definition for low income housing in replacement of Short Term Rental. The low income housing trade it excludes people who are low income and don’t have the luxury of qualifying for a Section 8 voucher.”

Vermont Short Term Rental Alliance founder Julie Marks encouraged Democratic Mayor Miro Weinberger to veto the Short Term Rental measure.

“This ordinance wouldn’t even be enforceable or enforced for at least a year. From now there is plenty of time to come up with a more comprehensive and long-term solution that better balances the economic needs with the community needs.”

Resident Deb Ward Lyons offers a short term rental at her home and uses the income to help pay bills.

“My Short Term Rental allows me to stay in place in the home I’ve lived in for 40 years and to pay my taxes, which went up 25 percent this year. I agree there needs to be restrictions on STR’s but the ordinance passed last time goes too far.”

Every decade, the city and state must complete a redistricting process. During the panel’s February 7th meeting councilors asked the city planner and city attorney to come back with an update on an adjusted schedule for mapping alternatives. City Planner Meagan Tuttle noted that they are not presenting an exact schedule at this time.

“Because our clerk’s office has been busy administering the election from last week we don’t have exact deadlines yet for charter changes, which is what a redistricting plan is. But we are anticipating that the deadline for when the council would need to make a decision about a map to put in front of the voters would happen at your July meeting.”

Ward 7 Independent Ali Dieng had several questions for Tuttle regarding the ad hoc committee and creation of redistricting maps.

1 :33 “The committee that was created what will be their role moving forward? Two, I have seen several maps already. What is the role of the city council and lastly what is the plan to go back to the NPA’s(Neighborhood Planning Assemblies)?”

City Planner Tuttle responded, “The role of the ad-hoc committee, at this point we have not been further engaging with that committee. Ultimately the maps will be done from within the planning department and those maps will be created under your guidance. Any kind of community engagement that you would like to see around that process will happen at your direction.”

The only mention of city elections March 1st occurred during the mayor’s comments as he praised the city’s elections workers.

“This year they even had to deal with the unprecedented situation with a polling location having to be closed for a few minutes as the result of a bank robbery. It was really quite a day. But we got through it and we got through the recount and I’m appreciative to the team.”

A hand count completed Monday affirmed Ward 7 Ali Dieng’s win by two votes over Democratic challenger Aleczander Stith.

The new city council will be sworn in on Monday, April 4th, with Progressives retaining control.

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