John Bossange: Focus on the trial of the promoter after the elections
This commentary is from John Bossange of South Burlington, a retired college principal.
It’s no surprise that a panicked developer is trying to instill fear and doubt in a local election with a frivolous last-minute lawsuit. This is the oldest and most boring political campaign playbook.
Only this time, the people of South Burlington were wise enough to see through this attempt by one of Vermont’s best-known promoters, Jeff Davis. This was certainly the case in South Burlington, where 70% of voters left no doubt about overwhelming public support for key issues of environmental protection, control of sprawl, use of principles of smart growth for building homes and giving our children and grandchildren a hopeful future.
By electing two candidates, Meaghan Emery and Tim Barritt, who were aligned on the winning issues in the campaign, City Council maintained a 3-2 vote in support of land use planning by-laws that allow land conservation for help mitigate the impacts of extreme weather events already with us.
While imperfect, the new land use regulations provide for natural buffers, wildlife corridors, and broader wetland protections in the city’s remaining natural areas. Voters overwhelmingly preferred these two candidates who have made environmental preservation a priority.
Residents also made it clear that they understood the principles of smart growth, which call for the creation of compact villages and urban centers surrounded by rural countryside, protecting important environmental features, including fields, grasslands, pastures, wooded forests, water quality and landscape. views. They know that smart growth increases transportation options, especially for pedestrians. It also prevents the fragmentation of agricultural land and forest land, thereby reducing the need to expand municipal infrastructure spanning undeveloped land to homes outside of compact villages and more urban centers, and does not allow linear and strip development along busy roads.
South Burlington is an educated community, increasingly aware and concerned about the grim predictions for the future of our planet. Voters understand that these next two generations will bear the brunt of catastrophic climate change to come if we do not take immediate action to control the warming of our planet.
Residents see taking action right here in South Burlington as a way forward. The two winning contestants who spoke about taking concrete action to help alleviate the climate crisis and the science behind it give parents inspiration to talk with their children about a brighter future.
This election should serve as a public mandate for any developer who wants to do business in South Burlington, including Jeff Davis, who lives on a former farm on 240 acres in Underhill, halfway up Mount Mansfield.
Every day when he’s not managing his sprawling outlet store investments from Mapletree Place to Taft’s Corners, or his Walmarts and other outlet store developments in Chittenden County and beyond, he can retreat to his wooded refuge and avoid what the rest of us have to negotiate every day.
As an out-of-state developer, Jeff Davis ignores the important directions of smart growth and the detrimental impacts that sprawling rural development has on worsening the climate crisis. This is where he made his millions.
Vermonters are tired of out-of-state developers trying to take advantage of our rural landscape. Jeff Davis works like one of those. He has Vermont roots, but out-of-state values.
What Vermonter would take issue with wildlife corridors and habitat buffers around a development, or the extension of wetland restrictions? What Vermonter would resist conserving the few remaining, highly sensitive natural areas identified in the city’s draft zoning open space report, especially in a city that already plans to build 1,400 more homes? What Vermonter wouldn’t want a developer to follow the Vermont Economic Progress Council endorsement of Smart Growth? The answer? Jeff Davis.
No wonder Jeff Davis filed a self-serving lawsuit against three South Burlington city councilors who had the foresight to vote for recent land use planning bylaws. With these regulations in place, mass sprawl will be kept to a minimum in South Burlington and hopefully encourage downtown development. Best of all, we won’t become Chittenden County’s sprawling real estate hub.
Many South Burlington residents have come from other states and have first-hand experience of the short- and long-term effects of sprawling developments. They saw infrastructure rebuilt, municipal services strained, classroom trailers next to crowded school buildings and the inevitable increase in their taxes to cover the shortfall, debunking the myth that rising big list was the way to pay budget shortfalls. They don’t want to see that again, especially here in our city.
Voters spoke loud and clear. 70% is a mandate. Developers, real estate agents and lending institutions cannot continue to do business as usual. They will do best by focusing on developing innovative and affordable housing in urban areas and creatively filling unused and misused properties while protecting and defending our environment and natural resources.
If Jeff Davis was politically smart and cared about his legacy and reputation, he would give in to the mandate given to him by voters in that recent election, drop the lawsuit, stand up for the winning issues in this campaign, and still make enough money to to live. comfortably on its 240 acres. A real Vermonter would do that.