City Council debates reopening Burlington homeless encampment

Published: Nov. 15, 2021 at 3:30 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 16, 2021 at 7:23 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - There was a heated debate Monday night at Burlington’s City Council meeting over whether to reopen the Sears Lane homeless encampment.

The city tried to shut down the encampment last month but it has never been empty and several people are living there now. Twice now in three weeks, Progressives on the council led by Councilor Joe Magee, P-Ward 3, have tried keep the Sears Lane encampment open.

But Councilor Joan Shannon, D-South, whose district includes the encampment, argued that it was against council rules to bring essentially the same resolution twice unless it is in the same meeting or back-to-back meetings.

Because there was a meeting in between the Sears Lane resolution, city attorney Dan Richardson agreed with Shannon.

“This appeal is only about -- are we voting on the same thing twice, because you did not like the outcome of the October 25th vote, a case has been made that it’s an evolving crisis. The only way it has evolved is that it has improved dramatically because we are following a policy we laid out on October 25th,” Shannon said.

The measure to bring back the resolution failed on a 6-5 vote.

Moving forward, the 28-day emergency housing assistance the state provided to the former residents of Sears Lane runs out later this month.

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