Blog :: 06-2019

Burton to add a Music Venue

Zoning Change Will Allow Burton to Move Forward With Music Venue


The proposed concert venue space at Burton - FILE: SASHA GOLDSTEIN

  • The proposed concert venue space at Burton

The Burlington City Council on Monday night approved a controversial zoning change that will allow Burton Snowboards to move forward with a conceptual plan to build out its Industrial Parkway facility with music venue Higher Ground as an anchor tenant. 

A large council majority approved an amendment to the Enterprise-Light Manufacturing District, a South End area that previously limited performing arts centers to Pine Street and capped them at 5,000 square feet. Under certain conditions, the amendment will allow for such venues to be built up to 15,000 square feet on Industrial Parkway, where Burton owns 155,000 square feet of space between two buildings.


Councilor Joan Shannon, a Democrat whose South District contains the affected area, was the lone no in the 10-1 roll call vote. Councilor Chip Mason (D-Ward 5) recused himself. 

Now that the amendment has passed, Burton can begin the process of relocating Higher Ground from South Burlington. It also intends to lease space to Talent Skatepark, which closed its indoor park in South Burlington last summer. 

Additionally, Burton wants to create a food hall at the complex. Mad Taco co-owner Wes Hamilton said Monday that his restaurant is eager to open there, as is Misery Loves Company. 

The vote came after impassioned testimony on both sides of the issue. Proponents said the project aligns with the South End’s vitality as an arts hub while opponents expressed worries over increased noise and traffic in what is largely a quiet residential area. 

Justin Worthley, Burton’s senior vice president of human resources, said the company will fully participate in the permitting process, during which time such issues will be addressed. He said Burton has envisioned this build-out for at least 12 years. The company  has hosted dozens of public tours, Worthley said, and representatives have attended a handful of Neighborhood Planning Assembly meetings to explain the plans. 

While Burton may have good intentions, neighbor Ben Traverse said, the company won't be able to build better city infrastructure around the facility. That is up to officials, who Traverse said should wait until the area is better equipped to handle the increased traffic before allowing the zoning change to go forward. 

Some concerned citizens noted that there were more than 100 police calls to Higher Ground in a year’s time. Alan Newman, a part-owner of the music venue, clarified that only two of those calls resulted in arrests. 

“It's only reasonable to determine that if this venue takes place in Burlington and it’s larger, the police will be called even more,” resident Gail Asbury said. 

Others suggested the council delay the vote until the Champlain Parkway is built. 



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    Housing Summit on Tuesday in Burlington VT

    Image: Burlington Housing Summit.

    Burlington Housing Summit
    June 11, 2019 at Contois Auditorium in City Hall

    For many years, Burlington has faced a housing crisis. Meanwhile, right now, progressive cities around the country are looking to housing policy as a solution to many of our central challenges, and reforming outdated land use policies that increase income inequality, promote sprawl, and drive up rents. Here in Burlington, we can do the same. 

    Please join us on June 11 for the Burlington Housing Summit, where we will delve into our housing challenges, opportunities, and key policy reforms. We plan to emerge from this summit with a list of priority housing initiatives that the Administration will spearhead in consultation with the City Council, the Planning Commission, housing stakeholders, and the public in the coming months. Our goal will be to deliver draft ordinances for these priority reforms to the City Council for action this fall.

    We know that beyond the next few months, there will be more work to do. To this end, the Summit will also include space to hear from the community about other ideas we should consider in the future.

    We need all of your voices at the Burlington Housing Summit. Together, we can take a step toward a future where housing is a human right and where Burlington is the sustainable, vibrant, affordable, inclusive, and equitable place that we strive to be.

    Burlington Housing Summit schedule:

    Noon-5pm          Working Meeting

    • 11:30am          Check-in and lunch
    • Noon               Welcome
    • 12:05pm          Keynote from Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender
    • 12:30                Questions with President Bender
    • 12:45                Address from Mayor Miro Weinberger
    • 1:00                  Presentations on 5 Specific Housing Policy Reforms
    • 1:30                  Break
    • 1:45                  Break-outs to Workshop 2 Policy Reforms:
                                      Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and Parking minimums
    • 2:30                  Break
    • 2:40                  Break-outs to Workshop 3 Policy Reforms:
                                      Housing Trust Fund, Short-term rentals, and Energy efficiency in rental housing
    • 3:25                   Break
    • 3:35                  Open Space: Self-organized, small group discussion
                                      What other housing policy reforms should be on the City’s list for the future?
    • 4:40                   Close and next steps

    6-8pm                   Town Hall Meeting

    • 6:00                        Welcome
    • 6:05                        Keynote from Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender
    • 6:20                        Address from Mayor Miro Weinberger
    • 6:30                        Questions with President Bender and Mayor Weinberger
    • 6:40                        Overview of 5 Specific Housing Policy Reforms
    • 6:50                        Overview of following hour
    • 7:00                        Open House on 5 Housing Policy Reforms
                                                Attendees talk with City subject matter experts about these 5 areas
    • 7:25                        Open Space: Self-organized, small group discussion
                                                What other housing policy reforms should be on the City’s list for the future?
    • 7:55                        Close and next steps

    Exact schedule and timing subject to change.

    *** The noon-5pm working meeting is open to all but free advanced registration is required through Eventbrite. For the 6-8pm Town Hall Meeting, no registration required, though RSVP through the Facebook event is helpful. See you there! ***

    For a preview of the Summit, see this video with Mayor Weinberger and the City's Meagan Tuttle and David White:

    Keynote Speaker:

    Lisa Bender is the President of the Minneapolis City Council, where her housing policy achievements include leading the City Council’s adoption of the Minneapolis 2040 Plan, a comprehensive plan to guide growth, prioritize racial equity, and fight climate change; authoring the City’s Inclusionary Zoning policy; and writing the City’s Accessory Dwelling Unit ordinance.

    First elected in 2013, President Bender has also championed the implementation of the City’s Complete Streets policy, including securing $400 million for investment in complete streets; led the adoption of the Midwest’s first $15 local minimum wage; and advocated for community-led approaches to public safety. President Bender earned a Master's Degree in City Planning from the University of California, Berkeley and has over a decade of experience in shaping transportation and land use choices to make cities more equitable and sustainable.

    Lisa will be the keynote speaker at both the working meeting and the Town Hall.

    About the Policies:

    At the Burlington Housing Summit, we will workshop several key housing policy reforms, and hear from partners and the community about how to get these right. The Summit will prioritize remaining, unfinished business from the City's 2015 Housing Action Plan. These policies include:

    Housing Trust Fund –                                   restoring and increasing funding to the City's Housing Trust Fund, which provides grants and loans for the promotion, retention and creation of long-term affordable housing
    Learn more about the Housing Trust Fund: "Housing Trust Fund," City of Burlington, last updated May 2019.

    Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) –           rule changes to make it easier to create small houses or apartments that exist on the same property lot as a single-family residence, which are known as Accessory Dwelling Units or ADUs
    Learn more about ADUs: 1) "The ABCs of ADUs: A guide to Accessory Dwelling Units and how they expand housing options for people of all ages," AARP, 2019 [PDF], and 2) "Accessory Dwelling Units in Burlington," CEDO, February 2019 [PDF].

    Short-term rentals –                                     regulating short-term rentals like Airbnb in order to balance the economic benefit for Burlingtonians with potential impacts on renters and neighborhoods
    Learn more about short-term rentals and cities:

    Parking minimums –                                     changing the parking we require for new homes, especially in the downtown
    Learn more about parking minimums: 1) "People Over Parking," Planning, October 2018, and 2) "How Parking Requirements Hurt the Poor," The Washington Post, March 2016.

    Energy efficiency in rental housing –         updates to protect renters from unreasonably and wastefully high utility costs
    Learn more about energy efficiency in rental housing: 1) "Cities Hold the Keys to Greener, More Efficient Homes," Rocky Mountain Institute, April 2019, and 2) "Time of Sale Energy Efficiency Ordinance," Burlington Electric Department.

    The Administration's goal is to deliver draft ordinances for reforms in each of these areas to the City Council for action this fall. We also know that there is more work to do. Along with discussion of these five areas, the Housing Summit will also include space to generate a list of additional policies that the City should consider for the future.


    When we create more homes in our urban centers, we fight climate change by structuring our land use in a way that requires less energy to meet our heating, cooling, and ground transportation needs. Downtown residents produce half or less of the climate emissions of their suburban counterparts.

    When we create more homes, we strengthen our local businesses by addressing their top concern: that our shortage of housing makes it tough to attract and retain workers and create new jobs.

    When we create more homes, we share the costs of our high-quality public services and amenities over a larger tax base.

    When we create more homes, we open up the opportunity for welcoming new Burlingtonians into our neighborhoods, and becoming a more racially diverse and inclusive community.

    When we create more homes, we fight income inequality in the most potent way we can as local officials. Indeed, President Obama released a report just before he left office citing local regulations that stifle housing creation as one of the country’s major drivers of income inequality.

    When we create more resources for those experiencing homelessness, we make good on our deeply-held value of caring for the most vulnerable in our community.

    In short, when we create more homes, we are taking a step toward a future where housing is a human right and where Burlington is the sustainable, vibrant, affordable, inclusive, and equitable place that we strive to be.

    Other progressive cities around the country are taking up the mantle of housing reform. In Minneapolis, a grassroots group Neighbors for More Neighbors just successfully advocated to upzone large swaths of the city to address its history of redlining and exclusion. In Seattle, Boston, Madison, and other cities, progressive activist groups are pushing the forces of the status quo to say yes to more housing, with the goal of creating truly walkable, affordable, and diverse cities.

    Burlington faces a similar, long-simmering challenge. For decades, well-intentioned but highly restrictive land use rules have kept housing supply from keeping up with dramatically rising demand. As a result, the average Burlingtonian spends more than 40 percent of their income on rent, making us one of the most expensive communities in the country to live in.

    For the last seven years we have been charting a different course with a two-part strategy: 1) We have continued Burlington’s proud legacy of building as much permanently affordable housing as possible; and 2) We also have pursued policies and proactive efforts to create more homes for households of all backgrounds. This second strategy recognizes that there will never be enough subsidies to solve our housing problems with traditional affordable housing solutions alone, and both permanently affordable homes and all new homes are important.

    This effort to increase more homes for all – more housing supply – is working. There has been anecdotal evidence of this for a while, including last spring when Seven Days reported that the 300 new beds in Champlain College’s 194 St. Paul Street building were “spurring competition to fill student rentals that once could practically lease themselves... In response, some landlords are cutting rents. Others are waiving deposits.”

    We are now starting to see this progress in the data. The City recently commissioned a study of vacancy trends in the apartment market. We studied vacancy rates because very low vacancy rates drive rent increases and often other problems for tenants and the City. The report findings are clear. During the years 2006 to 2011 the city produced only 67 new apartments and had an average vacancy rate of just .7 percent during that period. Over the past seven years housing production jumped to 579 new homes and the average vacancy rate more than doubled to 1.5 percent.

    Now, 1.5 percent is still too low. We will need to see sustained vacancy rates of twice that or more to get to our affordability and inclusion goals. However, these trends of increased new homes and rising vacancy rates refute the idea that new housing supply doesn’t matter, and should be seen as a call to more action.

    There is much more for us to do. For years, we have had consensus that numerous local regulations were getting in the way of creating new homes, but progress to reform them is not happening quickly enough. In order to make more timely progress, we need to bring focus and urgency to this effort.

    To that end, the Mayor’s Office will host the Burlington Housing Summit on June 11 in order to review a range of key housing policies that we first outlined in our 2015 Housing Action Plan, including: Our downtown parking policies, rule changes to create more Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) throughout the City, increased funding to our local Housing Trust Fund, policies to regulate short-term rentals, and updates to protect renters from unreasonably and wastefully high utility costs. The Summit will also include space to hear from the community about other ideas we should consider in the future.

    We plan to emerge from this summit with a list of priority housing initiatives that the Administration will spearhead in consultation with the City Council, the Planning Commission, housing stakeholders, and the public in the coming months. Our goal will be to deliver draft ordinances for these priority reforms to the Council for formal vetting and action this fall.

    For decades, our community has struggled with the cost of housing. Let us resolve together that 2019 will be the year we accomplish the structural fixes needed to make housing for all a reality.

    - Adapted from Mayor Miro Weinberger’s annual State of the City address, April 1, 2019



    Contact the Mayor

    Miro Weinberger, Mayor
    City Hall, Room 34
    149 Church Street
    Burlington, VT 05401

    Phone: 802-865-7272





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      Mortgage Rates Drop encourages more home buying

      Drop in Mortgage Rates Could Put Market in 2005 Territory

      The recent plunge in mortgage rates may help the market for home loans surge to a 14-year high, according to recent housing forecasts. In the past month, mortgage rates have posted their biggest drop in a decade, with the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaging 4.08 percent last week, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly mortgage market survey.

      The rate decline has enticed more home buyers to enter the market, prompting mortgage demand to reach its highest level since the fall of 2016. Mortgage applications jumped 18.6 percent last week as borrowers rushed to lock in lower financing costs. Mark Watson, director of forecasting for mortgage advisory firm iEmergent, predicts $1.2 trillion in home lending this year, which would be the best year since 2005. “We think the lower mortgage rates will create a huge push, partly from millennial buyers,” Watson told HousingWire. “That is going to support strong growth in home sales over the next several years.”

      iEmergent projects a 3.9 percent increase in total home loan volume this year. That’s more optimistic than other forecasters, such as Freddie Mac, which is predicting a 1.5 percent increase in total mortgage lending for 2019, and the Mortgage Bankers Association, which predicts a 1 percent gain.

      But the threat of higher mortgage rates is diminishing. The Federal Reserve announced at its January meeting that due to a slowing economy, it does not plan to raise its short-term key interest rates again this year. Therefore, mortgage rates will likely stay low for a while, which will bode well for the housing market, Watson says. “The benefits of the decline in mortgage rates that we’ve seen this year will continue to unfold over the next few months due to the lag from changes in mortgage rates to market sentiment and ultimately home sales,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

      iEmergent predictions. Visit source link at the end of the article for more information.

      © iEmergent



      Low Mortgage Rates May Drive Home Purchase Lending to 14-Year High,” HousingWire (April 8, 2019) and “iEmergent’s Mortgage Forecast Update: Why We’re Staying Put for 2019,” iEmergent (April 3, 2019)


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