Over the past year, Rights & Democracy (RAD) has heard from many of our members and Burlington supporters who have asked us to weigh in on the redevelopment of the Burlington Town Center.
Many of these folks have been active with a growing grassroots effort called the Coalition For A Livable City (CLC) who have been opposing the project for violating zoning laws, lacking transparency and the misuse of public funds. Proponents of developer Don Sinex’s project say this is a rare opportunity to improve the downtown public infrastructure, local economy and create housing. This has become a very polarized issue for our community, and it tells us that something is broken in the ways we make these decisions.
Rights & Democracy is hosting an event to explore the ballot questions facing Burlington residents in the upcoming election, and to look at better ways for communities to determine community investments moving forward. A Vision For Fair Development: Building a Burlington That Works For Everyone will be held at Burlington City Arts on October 27th (more info, list of panelists, and RSVP here).
Although Rights and Democracy is a new organization that has not previously worked on issues of development, we understand that the questions about providing public infrastructure, job creation, changing property values and their impact on housing affordability and quality of life are fundamental to our mission of upholding human rights and building real democracy. Local RAD members have looked at the Fair Development work conducted in Baltimore, MD by United Workers and the National Economic & Social Rights Initiative (NESRI).
We have met with leaders of the CLC, Burlington City Councilors and Mayor Miro Weinberger. We have been impressed by how the work of CLC and others has already impacted the proposal, especially elements of the Pre-development Plan and the Community Benefits Agreement that it calls for if the project moves forward. Burlington voters will be asked two questions on the November 8th ballot that are both critical to this development. The first is in regards to overlay zoning changes that are needed to create this massive 14-story development (see CLC video with images of height). The second is about approving a $22 million Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) to pay for public infrastructure required by the development, and has drawn community opposition as a misuse of public funds.
Please join us to explore this project, fair development and a vision and more just communities on October 27. RSVP here: http://www.radvt.org/fair_development
City of Burlington website: https://www.burlingtonvt.gov/CEDO/BTV-Mall-Redevelopment-Process
Coalition For A Livable City: https://coalitionforalivablecity.blogspot.com/
Building a Just Baltimore for All Communities:The Fair Development Recovery Plan: http://www.unitedworkers.org/fair_development_recovery_plan
National Economic & Social Rights Initiative: Fair Development: https://www.nesri.org/tags/fair-development