City of Burlington, Vermont

City of Burlington, Vermont

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Neighborhood Project FAQs

Neighborhood Project – FAQs

2/16/2018

 

How did this project come about?

The Neighborhood Project is one of 22 projects contained in Burlington’s Housing Action Plan (HAP), a comprehensive approach to the most longstanding housing issues facing the City, that was approved unanimously by the City Council in October of 2015. The Neighborhood Project was included as a “proactive initiative” to “create the opportunity for quality of life improvement in the City’s historic neighborhoods” that are heavily impacted by students. The City, UVM, Champlain College, and Preservation Burlington came together, in a unique partnership, to fund a consultant to help create “an overall strategy and toolkit of policies and programs based on national best practices” for enhancing and preserving neighborhood quality of life building on the significant work that has been done by groups like the UVM Community Coalition.

What we have so far are the preliminary, potential actions (to be used to gauge support and ask for other input), not a final report.

What neighborhoods are included in this study?

Wards 1,2,6,8 formed the basis of the study as they are the Wards which include “near campus neighborhoods”. The materials identify the broader area as the 4 wards, but do also identify a “core” area bounded roughly by North, Main, Williams, Pearl and Mansfield. Recognizing that the needs in one neighborhood may not be the needs in another, the project aims to identify strategies based on neighborhood feedback and quantitative data analysis. Additional outreach will address neighborhoods separately.

Is the presentation from the Dec 12th Open House that is posted on the website the final product?

No, there will be additional versions as the project moves forward and we solicit further feedback. The consultant has identified potential strategies and tools which will create balanced opportunities for housing choices in near-campus neighborhoods, improve the quality of housing stock, and identify quality of life initiatives to support residents.  What we have so far are preliminary, potential actions to be used to gauge support, not a final report. The presentation includes data analysis and maps developed by the consultants through cooperation with numerous City departments and the Universities to help inform this discussion.

What is the purpose of the survey? Is it statistically significant? Is it anonymous?

The community open house that was held on December 12th and the subsequent survey aim to gauge community support for the potential tools and strategies presented. The “survey” is not a survey in the formal sense nor is it a scientific survey; it is an electronic version of the exercises held at the Open House on December 12th.  An online survey was an easy and familiar way to allow residents to provide their feedback to the initial tools and strategies presented. Name and address are required by the survey to ensure there are no duplicate entries, and allow for neighborhood specific responses – the consultant will aggregate the data and no personal information will be shared with the City.

Is balance in a neighborhood defined as 50% students / 50% non-students?

No, balance is a term that has been used in the Community Development and Neighborhood Revitalization (CDNR) City Council Committee and the Housing Action Plan, and is not meant in a literal sense. We acknowledge that balance will look different in each neighborhood. A large focus of this project is to have a dialogue about what balance means in different neighborhoods based on initial market and demographic data provided by the consultants. The survey and open house were intended to help residents define what neighborhood ‘balance’ means to them and solicit their feedback.

Do the strategies for housing conversion include converting single-family homes to student housing?

No, The strategy to ‘contain and slow down conversion of single family homes’ refers to the potential creation of a fund(s) that could assist in purchasing single-family homes as they go on the market in order to help maintain them as single family owner-occupied housing more consistent with historic neighborhood character. This strategy does not target elderly housing for conversion to student rentals.

In the presentation section on ‘Neighborhood Trends’, specific neighborhoods were identified as being ‘Change Neighborhoods’ where likely home sales could increase levels of student housing. This is based on data showing increasing student rentals in the area, with nearby high student density areas, combined with “a large percentage of households at a life stage where selling a home is likely”.  Families looking for single family homes in these campus adjacent neighborhoods have difficulty competing with prospective landlords looking to create rental housing.

Does ‘enabling modest infill’ mean that student housing will be built in my neighborhood?

This strategy is just one of many for consideration, and is specific to say only “modest infill development/redevelopment appropriate to neighborhood character, but which prevents significant unit expansion/additions that substantially increase the number of units (e.g. doubles) on what was once a single-family home or duplex.” Like all the strategies and tools proposed we want your feedback.

We’re quite a long way off from implementing any recommendations that emerge from TNP. Any recommendation to be taken forward will require many steps and residents will have a further opportunity to provide input. For example, any changes or amendments to a city ordinance must go to the city council for a first reading, then referred to the ordinance committee and back to the full council, before it can be approved. So, at each step in the process, the neighborhood has additional opportunities to weigh in.

Expansion of on-campus housing is also included for consideration, for example on the Trinity Campus that UVM acquired.