QUESTION: Is Burlington’s city council scheduled to resume its discussion about some proposed defections from the city’s largest historic district on Tuesday when it is also slated to hold a public hearing on a new set of design standards that could preempt the rationale for those defections?
ANSWER: Burlington’s city council may not be putting the cart before the horse in its efforts to resolve the controversies over the city’s historic preservation program. But it does seem to have both cart and horse on an even footing – at least when it comes to the agenda for its next regularly-scheduled meeting on Tuesday.
Last month, the council decided to hold a public hearing on August 16 regarding a new set of architectural design standards for Burlington’s Glencoe and West Davis Street/Fountain Place districts. These proposed standards were originally rushed out in response to a pair of petitions that effectively seek to eliminate a whole block of West Davis Street from the second of these two overlay districts.
These secession requests were prompted, in part, by the antiquated design standards and the tangle of red tape that have traditionally confronted upgrades and improvements to buildings in both of the city’s historic districts. As a result, the council decided to expedite a proposed overhaul of these rules after its state-mandated public hearing on the secession petitions, which took place on March 15 of this year.
In the meantime, it postponed its consideration of the petitions themselves until such a time when it felt the new regulations would be ready for action.
According to Burlington’s city clerk Beverly Smith, the long awaited return of the secession petitions is currently scheduled to occur at the council’s next regular meeting.
“Yes, that action is scheduled to come back up on August 16,” Smith recalled in an interview on Tuesday. “The council closed the public hearing on that item on March 15, but they continued their consideration until the second meeting in August when the historic design standards would be complete.”
Smith also confirmed that the council is still slated to hold a hearing on the design standards at this same upcoming meeting.
In neither case, however, is the council obligated to vote on those items that night – which may mean that the flap over the city’s historic districts will continue into the future.
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