Wednesday, August 24, 2016


You may have heard of speed dating, where a person in search of love goes from table to table and interviews prospective candidates for, what, 5 minutes each, ruling out one after another as fast as possible? Well, we are all busy, and there is no time to find love or to make an extra million dollars, so the City of Burlington has considerately started this new speed zoning program for poor developers who ordinarily would have to wait for due diligence and proper public processes before having areas of a city radically rezoned in opposition to comprehensive plans and citizen wishes for months or even years. All that has been fixed. Now a developer can do this great drive through thing, getting stamps of approval from each committee without even stopping and starting the car, as it were...just sort of idling for a few moments, which is illegal, but, hey, never mind.
So, just when you thought they had really gone as fast as was humanly possible they are fixing to go even faster over the next 3 days. 3 Days! In 3 days, the City Council will hold another meeting (third in one week!) to vote on the amendments to the zoning change (the mayor had hoped they could fit that in tonight, but, alas, they are not THAT fast yet!), to have the planning commission review those amendments and provide feedback, and to warn a public hearing with 15 days time. Selene Colburn, who is not so happy with all this speed, expressed concern because a number of councilors will be out of town during this miraculous moment (blink and you miss it!), as did Sharon Bushor (and we old-fashioned slow-pokes thank them both for their concerns!), but Council president Knodell warned her colleagues that, after all, the zoning change is being contemplated in respect to a Pre-Development agreement which most of them signed which requires this zoning change to be sealed around September 10th. Did someone say Spot Zoning? Is anyone worried about anything? Well, don't be. Just trust them. Just trust David White, Mayor Weinberger, and the City Staff. It will all be fine. No need even for assurances or sureties or requirements. If we just hope and "strongly prefer" and ask nicely the developers surely will not take advantage of us. No, not us!
Anyway, if they can pull this off it will really be impressive. 3 days! Even I will be impressed.
But I am writing this after midnight, because the break neck speed of the Council means we watch dog organizations can't take time to sleep either.
So many questions to be answered in the next three days:
Are those streets really buildable to meet standards for driving, walking, bicycling?
What about that market feasibility study that Sinex promised by August 1st? Will there be time to receive it, read it, review it?
What about that business he just bankrupted?
What about the LEED Gold security?
What about the Storm Water (Sharon Bushor wisely asked that the Planning Commission take a look at the new language...but will there be time?!)
What about the question of toxic soils under the streets?
What about the affordable housing numbers?
What about all those strange things that went on with the Planning Commission never approving the ordinance?
What about the question of the actual height? 160, 175, 190? Who cares! Let's Get This Thing DONE!
What about those parking garages? Wrapped, liner buildings? Underground? Off-site?
What about the actual area contained in this overlay district? Should this parcel be included, that one, none of them, all of them, more of them? Whatever!
What about the question of that TIF financing which the public gets to vote on in November? What if the people vote it down? What then?
Oh well.
But wait, WAIT! Wait. WAIT!
Hold On!
Please write to your councilors and to the mayor first thing you read this (no time to waste). Tell them this joke has gone on long enough. Tell them we demand due diligence when making a decision of this magnitude. Tell them it is unconscionable to play with our city like this. Do it NOW, before it is too late.

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