Home Columns Letters Letters to the Editor, Jan. 25, 2023

Letters to the Editor, Jan. 25, 2023

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DRB: Vote ‘No’ on VCFA Plan

To the Editor:

I have some serious concerns about the Vermont College of Fine Arts’ proposed Campus planned unit development currently under review by the Montpelier Development Review Board.

At a previous hearing in 2021, the VCFA presented nearly the same proposal as was presented to the DRB on Jan. 3. Their request remains the same: allow all of the conditional uses on their application (16 out of a total of 31 uses) to become permitted. They are essentially asking for current zoning to be changed on their behalf. 

As a neighbor of the campus, this would allow a developer or future owner to significantly alter the uses of the campus buildings with no input from residents of the neighborhood or the community at large. 

While I, like many of my neighbors, would like to see the buildings on the VCFA’s campus more fully utilized, we do not want to give up our ability to weigh in on potential future uses. Therefore, I’m hoping that the Development Review Board will turn down the VCFA’s request at its next hearing on Feb. 6 at 7 p.m.

Joe Castellano, Montpelier 

DRB Should Vote No on VCFA Plan

To the Editor:

Montpelier’s Development Review Board (DRB) members should vote “No” on the VCFA Development Application/Campus Master Plan/ PUD for the many reasons that follow. 

The Vermont College of Fine Arts is trying to use a “Campus Master Plan/PUD” application to the DRB to shift the effective zoning of their property in a way that reduces transparency and community review by converting 16 “conditional uses” to “permitted uses” on their property. 

I wonder if this VCFA Campus Master Plan/PUD … will raise the value of their land and expedite a sale by streamlining the permitting process to the benefit of future owners?

It is contrary to the public interest to change long-standing review procedures to benefit a particular seller and unidentified buyer, removing community input. Changing “conditional uses” to “permitted uses” increases ways in which the VCFA green could be developed while limiting community input. The VCFA Campus Master Plan/PUD does not protect the green as open space. 

Current underlying Mixed Use Residential zoning regulations for the VCFA area have been in place for years, developed with community engagement by the City Planning Commission. Why change these now? 

I support a successful, timely, transfer of VCFA property and the creation of a flourishing district with a mix of uses, one that includes affordable and moderate housing, with the zoning as it exists now. Community input can help shape better outcomes and lead to productive neighbor relations. Montpelier citizens should retain all our current rights to community notification, public review, and engagement. 

Please write to the DRB through the Montpelier Zoning Administrator, mcrandall@montpelier-vt.org (and cc VCFA katie.gustafson@vcfa.edu), to express your views and please attend the next hearing Monday, Feb. 6 at 7 p.m., when a vote on the VCFA development application is planned. Community involvement at this juncture is critically important.

Alisa Dworsky, Montpelier

Saying Goodbye and Thank You

To the Editor:

In a few days, Antiques at 110 Main in Montpelier will close its doors for the last time. One of the proprietors at the end of the day will get into their car and drive home into the darkening night. Is not a parade with marching band in order? Yes! … to thank all involved over the past 20 plus years for running one of the most comforting, colorful, and fun stores imaginable. 

The shop has become an integral part of many people’s lives (including mine). I bought great stuff there and learned a lot about various old things related to the antique trade. But more importantly, I made friends there, ran into friends there, and found comfort there. And somehow, all of us who love the store grew two decades older together.

I am trying not to be sad, knowing well that almost nothing in life is permanent. But I am sad, and also very thankful for the decades in which this fine shop graced the city of Montpelier.

Thank you, and farewell.

Susan Walter, Montpelier

No Public Relief?

To the Editor:

Where is one expected to go and what is one supposed to do, particularly when there is no place located either centrally downtown or elsewhere within easy strolling distance, most especially at night, on the weekend, or on an official holiday when one urgently needs to relieve themselves?

That is the question that plagues those whose bladder or other internal plumbing system is filled to overflowing.

Is there no public relief in sight?

Unfortunately, governments often do what they seem to do best when attempting to avoid doing something real about one matter or another, absolutely nothing: i.e., exercising the cynical and deliberately indifferent bureaucratic mindset as well as the general political principle of ignoring it, long enough, until it eventually goes away.

If municipal and state government as well as other partners were to vigorously exercise the political will and make accessible public restroom facilities available on a 24-hour/7-day a week basis a high enough priority, develop an actual action plan, and come up with adequate funding, it could actually get done.

If members of the public were to demand as much by making their voices heard, sooner rather than later, it just might happen and everyone would be better off as a result.

Otherwise, let us ask ourselves as well as each other about whether or not this is indeed a civilized, compassionate, fair, and just society (rhetorically posed)?

If it is, then what is necessary to be done on behalf of the collective public good concerning these and related regards shall become clearly obvious and much more difficult to continue ignoring.

Morgan W. Brown, Montpelier

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