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Letter to the Editor: DRB Should Vote “No” on VCFA’s Proposed College Master Plan Application

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To the Editor:        

    I thank The Bridge for Cassandra Hemenway’s article, “Residents Rally About VCFA Zoning Request,” Jan. 17, 2023, about concerns voiced by Montpelier residents on January 3, at a meeting before the Development Review Board (DRB) regarding the proposed  Application submitted by Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA). As further  explained by Joe Castellano and Alisa Dworsky in their letters to the editor (Jan. 24, 2023), VCFA is attempting to change zoning procedures which would disenfranchise the community and could result in the creation of a commercial park.

            VCFA is selling 10 of its 11 remaining buildings and seekng to change 16 “conditional uses” to “permitted uses,” including laboratory, rural enterprise, and medical clinic. VCFA wants to create angled parking on College and West Streets to accommodate anticipated increased parking needs.

            On January 20th, the DRB requested that VCFA provide traffic data for the streets around VCFA, including potential traffic due to the “conditional uses” that VCFA  is requesting be converted to “permitted uses,” a plan for the uses rather than a “laundry list,” and designation of the land that would be reserved as common open space. On January 30th,  VCFA  requested that the DRB postpone VCFA’s presentation to February 6th to 21st.

            Like Mr. Castellano and Ms. Dworsky, I hope the VCFA buildings can be repurposed and put to good use.  I support the development of a cohesive plan, including conversion of buildings to affordable and moderate housing, and other uses consistent with the character of the neighborhood.  I urge residents to write to the DRB and to attend the next hearing in person or zoom on Tuesday,  February 21st at 7 p.m. to express their views.  I ask the DRB to vote “no” on VCFA’s plan so that transparency and meaningful community engagement continue to be required as under the existing plan.

Phyllis Rubenstein, Montpelier