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Burlington clears the way for Higher Ground venue

 The Burton warehouse in Burlington that Higher Ground hopes to move into.
The Burton warehouse in Burlington that Higher Ground hopes to move into. (WCAX)
Published: Jun. 18, 2019 at 12:10 PM EDT
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A popular live music venue could be moving to Burlington after the City Council approved a zoning change on Monday.

The amendment allows any performing arts venue to take over a warehouse owned by Burton Snowboards on Industrial Parkway. Higher Ground is one of the applicants but has not officially been chosen.

The building is across the street from Red Rocks Park. People living in that neighborhood have mixed reaction but the majority of them say they are against the relocation.

"I don't think it'll fit here very well because where it's planned for is right next to this neighborhood which is a super quiet peaceful place," said Susan Hurd. "I can't imagine we won't hear the boom of the bass late into the night."

Hurd says she’s concerned she’ll be woken up by the music and the traffic. She’s also worried concertgoers will be rowdy and disruptive.

"I don't know if I'll enjoy walking around if there are people coming from some really super-exciting concert that might be a little on the inebriated side," she added.

Her neighbor, Tom Piper, says he doesn’t think that will be an issue.

"Shows end late, people don't want to go into the woods, they want to go to another bar, so I'm not too worried about that," he said. "I think it sounds like a great addition to the area both for the music venue and for the other retail, food, bars, skate park. It all sounds like fun stuff that we could be able to walk to easily from here."

The South Burlington City Council is also speaking up. Council Vice President Meaghan Emery called the plan a disaster. In a letter to the Burlington City Council, she said South Burlington councilors are "unanimously concerned" about the safety of residents, drivers and concertgoers. She is specifically worried about people jumping off cliffs in Red Rocks Park while drunk.

Emery says another safety issue is the one-lane bridge leading to the venue.

"That is not ideal for any kind of venue that would be attracting hundreds and hundreds of cars," she told WCAX News.

Emery wrote in her letter that she wants that bridge shut down if Higher Ground wins the bid to relocate. She says she felt blindsided by the council’s vote and said she hadn’t heard about it until last week.

Burlington City Council member Max Tracy said the zoning change proposal has been in discussion since November and there were several public hearings about it, as well as many chances for South Burlington to be involved.

"I certainly value our colleagues and their concerns regarding the zoning amendment," he said. "I'm hopeful that we will be able to address concerns of residents as well as our colleagues at South Burlington City Council."

The discussion now moves to the Development Review Board for final analysis. Emery says that South Burlington City Council members plan to attend.

According to Burlington City Councilor Sharon Bushor, there is a size limit cap on the venue. It cannot be bigger than 15,000 square feet.