Home Commentary Letters Letters to the Editor, Apr. 19, 2023

Letters to the Editor, Apr. 19, 2023

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Montpelier May Have to Develop Affordable Housing Itself

To the Editor:

The decision by Aacred Holdings to back away from their original development plan for Isabel Circle to a bland, suburban-style spread of owner-developed parcels is disappointing, if predictable, to those who wish to see our city grow in an equitable and smart way.

The primary reason for the change is spelled out clearly; the original plan was unprofitable. The story (“DRB Approves 34-lot Subdivision on Isabel Circle,” The Bridge, April 4) reveals the challenges the city faces in promoting the development it wants to see, and highlights questions at stake in the development of the Elks Club property. The developer cites ‘cost of building’ as the main obstacle to developing affordable homes, a phrase that does not give much clarity but is echoed by builders groups and other developers.

Most efforts of leadership though have been focused on permitting reform, an issue seemingly not at play in the Isabel Circle project, and presumably not for the Elks Club. The underlying challenge — the profitability of building — remains.

If Montpelier, indeed if Vermont, wants to see affordable housing developed, it will have to develop it itself. 

The worst case scenario for the Elks Club’s future looks like what happened with Isabel Circle. Since the purchase of the property, many concerns have been raised about cost. With the exception of those wishing the space to remain a public park, the concerned are too coy to name any preferred outcome to the project. But the public sentiment gathered at the public meetings makes housing a clear priority, and without a plan, a low-density sprawl situation is the most likely outcome if left to the private market. To avoid this fate, the city needs to be committed to enacting the vision it developed. To create the city’s newest neighborhood in the image that it wants, it must include public dollars and public control.

Dan Coppock, Montpelier

New City Councilors

To the Editor:

Greg Gerdel’s fine article about a recent Montpelier City Council meeting featured comments and questions by two new city council members, Tim Heney and Sal Alfano. I want to commend them both for their incisive comments and questions about the Country Club Road project and some very specific aspects of its development. Having two new city council members with project development experience representing us is a really helpful and a hopeful sign for going carefully and thoughtfully forward.

Rickey Gard Diamond, Montpelier