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Future of a Burlington church up for debate - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Future of a Burlington church up for debate

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Vivian Esparza lives near St. Anthony's Church in Burlington, she said, "Well certainly our quiet neighborhood would change. The character of the neighborhood would change."

Esparza says she has lived by the church for 16 years. She says the Church, the hall, and park have been a center piece of the community for as long as she can remember.

"Taekwondo for the children, there's a great thrift hall there where people in financial need can go and get clothing and household goods for a very low price. It's been a wonderful community service just having that parking lot for children to learn to ride their bikes!" said Esparza.

But Esparza and other residents received a letter in the mail -- she says no one was expecting.

"Well I was very surprised, because this is a tight neighborhood and usually everybody knows right away when anything is being planned. So I was extremely shocked," said Esparza.

The letter from the Burlington Development Review Board details a preliminary plan to demolish the rectory and parish hall, re-purpose the church, and constructing a 52 unit apartment building.

"Well there are a lot of concerns. Of course traffic being one of the biggest. That corner is already really congested during rush hour," adds Esparza.

The Church's Pastor declined to go on camera, but says all three buildings are in poor shape and need renovations. He says they are considering many options for the possible re-development, and no final planning decisions have been made. Many residents like Esparza, say they just wish they had heard of the sketches sooner.

'Some steps were skipped that have left a bad taste in people's mouths -- and hopefully they will recognize that there is a more appropriate way to approach the planning," Esparza said.

This project is on the agenda for the review board meeting March 18th at 5pm in Burlington's City Hall.

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