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Current Burlington City Council meets for the last time before new councilors are seated next week

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

The current iteration of the Burlington, Vermont City Council met for the last time Monday evening. A new council is set to be sworn in next week after Town Meeting Day elections earlier this month.

Councilors began their meeting with two executive sessions. One reviewed purchase or lease options for Memorial Auditorium. No further information was made public. Council Chair Karen Paul explained that the second pertained to a proposed ordinance regarding camping on city lands.

“The motion in the draft ordinance was to request that the Community Development and Neighborhood Revitalization Committee, which is a committee of the council, begin a community review of the proposed ordinance and operational policies related to camping on municipal lands. Work has been done on the draft ordinance and the council will meet in executive session to get that update and determine next steps based on that update.”

The council held a public hearing on proposed amendments to Inclusionary zoning ordinances that would allow flexibility in the bedroom mix and the overall size of units. Champlain Housing Trust Chief Operating Officer Amy Demetrowitz spoke in favor of the changes.

“The inclusionary zoning ordinance is an important policy and add in this flexibility will assure that it keeps supporting the creation of affordable housing that meets the current and future market demands.”

Councilors unanimously approved the recommendations of a consultant’s report on the city Police Department operations and policies. Ward 3 Progressive Joe Magee summarized the Public Safety Committee’s findings.

“The recommendations outlined in the report before us are related to prioritizing and implementation of each of the CNA recommendations, acknowledging that resources and bandwidth limit our ability to do all of these things overnight. The group recognized that many of these recommendations are connected to shifting culture within the department and as such those recommendations point to work that will be ongoing and won’t simply be marked off as completed, particularly with regard to changing behavior addressing bias and engaging the community more collaboratively.”

This was the last meeting before new councilors are sworn in. South District Democrat Joan Shannon offered a heartfelt farewell to departing councilors.

“I realize that we’ve had many contentious times Councilor Freeman. But I want to say that I really respect your independent thinking. And there have been times when I have seen you scrutinize something and even be the only councilor who supports something that I say or some action that I want to take. And I appreciate your independence in that way and your dedication to the job here.”

East District Democrat Maea Brandt did not run for re-election and will be replaced by Democrat Tim Doherty.

Progressive Melo Grant won the Central District seat to replace Perri Freeman, who also did not seek re-election.

Democrat Hannah King won a special election to fill the term of the Ward 8 council seat.

They will be sworn in on Monday, April 3rd when Democratic Mayor Miro Weinberger delivers his 12th State of the City address.