CityPlace developers secure zoning permits

Published: Mar. 3, 2021 at 5:54 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 4, 2021 at 7:35 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - CityPlace developers have the zoning permits they need for their revised plan to fill in Burlington’s “pit.” Burlington’s Development Review Board voted unanimously on Wednesday for the project which means developers can now move forward in the design process.

“We went into the original zoning application anticipating a late summer, early fall construction start and that’s what we are really sticking to that we’d like to see that happen,” says Dave Farrington, a BTC Mall Associates Partner on the project.

Farrington says he’s excited to move forward. He expects the Development Review Board’s decision to make it easier to get financing.

However, there may still be an obstacle in the way-- a lawsuit against the developers which claims the proposed parking violates a 2017 ordinance.

“In a nutshell, the problem with the amendment now is that it reduces parking by 60% but reduces the other nonparking elements by only 20%,” said Attorney John Franco, who filed the lawsuit.

Developers say those 2017 ordinances no longer apply and its current plan for around 420 parking spaces meets city requirements.

“We feel we have a strong position in our application and all the presentations we’ve made we are complying with the new zoning requirements to the maximum amount that we can provide parking,” said Farrington.

“The City Council, the city, everyone is ready for this project to proceed. We hope that Mr. Franco and his clients will rethink their decision to obstruct this project at every step along the way,” said Brian Dunkiel, the attorney for BTC Mall Associates.

According to Franco, the Development Review Board has to issue its findings in a written decision and written permit. Once that is done, Franco will have 30 days to file an appeal with the Environmental Division of the Superior Court which he says they will take.

He says the old Free Press building at 100 Bank Street down by the pit has rights to 100 spaces which are available for purchase in the building out of the 422 spaces in the building. That could potentially take 100 spaces from the residents of the building that he says would be disastrous for downtown.

In the meantime, the project still has to be reviewed and approved by other city committees after the design process before it can move forward. But developers are optimistic they can stay on schedule and start construction in the fall.

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