South Burlington City Council considers changing controversial land-use rule

South Burlington’s City Council is setting the wheels in motion to change a land-use rule that got pushback from developers.
Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 3:42 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 6, 2022 at 6:12 AM EDT
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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - South Burlington’s City Council is setting the wheels in motion to change a land-use rule that got pushback from developers.

A week ago, we learned that Beta Technologies had been told it could move forward with its proposed electric plane manufacturing facility, but with the condition that the parking be in the back or side of the building.

The company said that didn’t work because it was right next to the airport runway.

In a unanimous decision Monday night, the South Burlington City Council voted to start the process of changing that land-use rule, but only for properties next to the airport.

City Councilor Matt Cota, who proposed the amendment, described it as a win for the city.

“I absolutely view this as a victory,” Cota said. “I think it’s a signal that South Burlington does welcome new investment and is willing to work with developers and landowners that want to invest in South Burlington.”

Cota expects the change will take effect after a hearing in early May if it maintains council approval.

This does not affect projects like Beta’s that are already in the works. So, they’ll still be trying to find a workaround in the current rules with the Development Review Board when they meet on April 25. If they can’t, they can then refile under the new rule and will likely be approved.

Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont, has said previously that he’s concerned Beta might take its jobs elsewhere, like over to Plattsburgh, New York, where it recently expanded operations.

In a statement to WCAX News Tuesday evening, the governor reacted to the City Council’s decision, saying: “I’m hopeful the South Burlington DRB will act quickly to remove any further barriers or delays to this transformative economic development project that is so important for our state. As I’ve said many times, I believe this innovative company has the potential to be as important to Vermont as the siting of the IBM plant in Essex, and they already have plans to expand in St. Albans and beyond. We cannot let this opportunity slip through our fingers.”

I reached out to Beta Technologies for comment but had not yet heard back when this story was published.

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