DPW Briefing on Lake Champlain Water Quality

This summer has seen several instances of wastewater outflows in to Lake Champlain, including an incident this week following a strong thunderstorm.

RELATED: Public Works’ Statement on July 10th Wastewater Treatment Plant Discharge

As part of their efforts to keep residents informed about this issue, last month, the Department of Public Works(DPW) released a briefing outlining the history of our City’s efforts to combat stormwater runoff and how the City continues to address this issue. Highlights from the DPW Briefing Include:

  • Burlington’s Main Water Treatment Plant was built in 1953 with the North Plant and Main Street Plan being added in 1961 and 1963 respectively. The system has been updated numerous times to allow for greater capacity in the years since. Before 1953, Burlington discharged untreated waste in to Burlington Bay, Englesby Brook and the Winooski River
  • Like many older cities, Burlington combines sanitary waste and stormwater flows in the same pipes. Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO’s) occur when the capacity of treatment plants is exceeded and is discharged into water bodies. To fully separate waste and stormwater flows would cost well over $100,000,000.
  • As an alternative, Burlington prefers to create green wet-weather infrastructure which manages stormwater, reducing the number of CSO’s while adding more green space, shading and pedestrian/biking improvements
  • Burlington’s Wastewater Treatment Plants have been updated to increase capacity several times over the years. The main plant has a current dry day capacity of 5.3 Million gallons per day.
  • Burlington has five remaining untreated Combined Sewer Overflows, which are monitored by DPW. This year DPW purchased permanent flow meters in these locations which they are in the process of installing.
  • Recent beach closures have been the result of the Pine Street untreated CSO. This location was discovered in 2015. This location now has a permanent flow monitor and is the prime focus of the City’s Integrated Water Quality Planning.
  • A 2009 update to City ordinances dictates that any project that disturbs more than 400 sq. ft. must be reviewed for stormwater impacts. A number of recent projects have greatly contributed to mitigation efforts including: Investors Corporation of Vermont’s building at 180 Battery Street, Redstone’s redevelopment at 237 North Winooski Ave., Bright Street Cooperative’s development, and UVM’s Waterman Hall drainage efficiency project.
  • Large scale developments are required to manage their stormwater flows. CityPlace Burlington, Cambrian Rise and 85 North Avenue will all manage 100% of all new and existing stormwater runoff.
  • The City’s Water Resources and Integrated Planning Team is spearheading work to solve this issue and has already developed a comprehensive wet weather map to target stormwater reduction opportunities, developed a list of non-structural strategies to reduce runoff, and evaluated enhanced phosphorus removal technologies to aid already successful phosphorus removal procedures.

Protecting Lake Champlain is of the utmost importance to the future of Burlington. City officials are working to address this issue and prevent future CSO’s. In a press release yesterday Mayor Weinberger stated he has directed DPW to, “immediately devote every available resource, including outside experts, to fully investigate the causes of the recent mechanical discharges and to immediately implement fixes.”

In the meantime, people should remember that the Lake is safe to enjoy this summer. While signs are posted at South End beaches, residents and visitors should know that this is purely a precaution. Testing after these incidents show there has been no significant rise in the level of bacteria in the lake and are well below EPA limits.

BBA Comments on Inclusionary Zoning Recommendations

As Burlington continues to struggle with a “Housing Affordability Crisis” we see reform of Burlington’s Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) policy as a critical action for growing the city’s housing supply and accessibility. PlanBTV Downtown/Waterfront specifically identified reform of IZ as a necessary means “to encourage more of the housing that is so badly needed.”  We have submitted our response to the recent draft of recommendations by the Inclusionary Zoning Working Group (IZWG).

BBA Comments on IZWG Recommendations

We support an IZ Ordinance update focused on improving housing affordability and advancing the feasibility of projects undertaken by both for-profit and not-for-profit developers. We also support IZ Ordinance policy that applies to the region, in that it would in part keep Burlington from being at a competitive disadvantage versus surrounding areas that do not have a similar IZ Ordinance nor such high development and land costs.

In particular, some of the changes most important to the Burlington business community are the by-right density bonus provision, lowering payments-in-lieu, changes to parking requirements, and flexible range income targets. All of these particular proposed changes were included in PlanBTV. Our comment to these issues of importance are:

  • By-right density bonus provision – This would streamline the development process while still ensuring consistency in outcomes. Additionally, it clarifies processes for developers.
  • Lowering payment-in-lieu – The current payment-in-lieu fee drives development outside of Burlington. Decreasing the fee, particularly with smaller projects, will greatly increase project feasibility and encourage housing stock growth for families and young professionals.
  • Removing parking requirements – Parking requirements have numerous adverse effects including increasing cost and decreasing the buildable area of projects particularly those with IZ units. The Housing Action Plan points out that unnecessary parking requirements can increase per unit cost by 15-30%.
  • Adjusting income target for owner-occupied and rental units to a flexible range – A flexible range will encourage homeownership among young professionals and families.

We look forward to working with the city and stakeholders on improvements to this plan that will meet the needs of local businesses. Please feel free to reach out to Kelly Devine, [email protected] or 802-863-1175 with any questions relating to this document.


Colin Hilliard Joins BBA as Program Director of Advocacy and Member Engagement

The Burlington Business Association (BBA) is pleased to announce that Colin Hilliard has joined their team as Program Director of Advocacy and Member Engagement.

Colin’s work with the BBA will focus on advancing the BBA’s work to make Burlington a great place to live, work, and do business. He will work with the business community, as well as public and private stakeholders, to execute outreach and education campaigns that further the organization’s advocacy efforts. Colin’s role will also concentrate on further improving the organization’s ability to engage with both member businesses and the greater Burlington community through innovative digital media campaigns and the production of social, networking, and educational events. These communications and events will continue to ensure the BBA’s advocacy is inclusive for both Burlington’s citizens and business community.

Colin attended the University of Vermont’s Grossman School of Business, graduating with Bachelor’s Degree in 2014. Colin’s background is in account management, digital marketing strategy, and community organizing. He was previously at Dealer.com as a Digital Advisor for Major Accounts where he managed accounts of large automotive dealer groups across the country and developed wide-ranging digital marketing strategies for clients.  He has a passion for community engagement and public policy; inspired from his work in digital strategy and field operations on numerous local political campaigns.

The BBA is a member organization made up of Burlington based businesses that advocates on behalf of Burlington’s business community. Our alliance of more than 260 diverse businesses shares the goal of stewarding and promoting Burlington’s economic vitality.

2018 FAM Tour Showcases Waterfront Businesses

Credit-Stephen Mease Photography

The BBA’s 2018 Waterfront Familiarization (FAM) Tour took to the water on June 8th, and once again gave Burlington’s waterfront business community a chance to showcase their fantastic work.

Waterfront FAM Tour 2018-SEE THE ALBUM

As always, the event took place aboard the Spirit of Ethan Allen III and included the ‘Minute at The Mic’ segment where local business people could take time to talk about what’s on tap during the upcoming busy summer summer season. Speakers highlighted great events, new services and updates on construction.

This years speakers came from BBA Members: Dinse, Knapp & McAndrew PC, Spirit of Ethan Allen, Vermont Lake Monsters, Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center, Burlington Parks & Recreation, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Hotel Vermont, SkiRack, CityPlace Burlington, Burlington Harbor Marina, Run Vermont, Waterfront Diving Center, Local Motion, ECHO, Ice Cream Bob’s, Healing Winds Vermont, Burlington Wine & Food Festival, Lake Champlain Maritime Festival, Whistling Man Schooner and PP&D Brochure.

The BBA’s Waterfront Action Group (WAG) is comprised of member businesses on or near the waterfront. They have spearheaded a number of initiatives including an annual Waterfront Map, promoting waterfront businesses and more recently, focusing on water quality in Lake Champlain. WAG meets monthly from September to May, taking a break during the summer.

BBA member businesses interested in joining WAG should reach out to BBA Administrative Coordinator Jack Commo.

Thanks to everyone who attended the FAM Tour this year. Also thanks to our hosts, Spirit of Ethan Allen III and our Silver and Platinum Members for sponsoring this great event.

Trends Impacting Future of Downtown Burlington

What trends are guiding the future of downtowns like our own? This was the question guiding a presentation from Brad Segal of Progressive Urban Management Associates (PUMA) to the City Council last night.

Segal is the President of PUMA which has been working with the BBA and other downtown stakeholders to discuss the future of Burlington’s Downtown Improvement District. The presentation focused PUMA’s list of ‘Top 10 Global Trends Affecting Downtowns & How to Respond at Home‘.  

RELATED-Take our survey on your experience in downtown Burlington. We need your input! Downtown Experience Survey

The presentation to City Council last night looked at how changing age demographics are impacting downtowns across the country and what it could mean for communities like ours. The presentation highlighted the opportunities that exist for “Mid Tier” cities which offer more affordability and a more relaxed small city lifestyle.

Segal pointed to Burlington as being one of many communities that are competing to attract the growing number of millennial workers. Millennials are the fastest growing group in the American workforce and could make up as much as 75% of workers by 2050. Burlington stands in a position to benefit from its large population of university students.

Changing consumer priorities include the need for more urban housing and the creation of multi dimensional neighborhoods in areas that used to be more focused on retail and office space. This rise is fueled by a mix of young people attracted to a more urban lifestyle and baby boomers downsizing as they get older.

Another key aspect was social responsibility becoming an economic imperative for communities that hope to attract millennial workers. A growing priority for the young people is protecting economic opportunity for all and supporting diversity are key parts of building a successful modern downtown.

PUMA was hired as a consultant for the Downtown Improvement District project this winter. This week they will be meeting with key stakeholders including residents, property owners, small business owners and elected officials. In May representatives from PUMA held focus groups to hear from individuals about what their own priorities for Burlington’s downtown.

The E-Bike Adventure Begins

Depot Street was no match for the E-Bike in ‘Turbo’ mode.

Local Motion in collaboration with VSECU, Terry Bicycles and Pomerleau Real Estate,  is offering FREE rentals of e-bikes this summer. It is a great way to try out this new way to get around. BBA Executive Director Kelly Devine will be exploring Burlington on one of these fantastic new bikes. Stay tuned as she posts about her 6-day e-bike adventure around BTV!

Day 1:

Many thanks to the Local Motion team. A++ customer service when picking up the e-bike rental. They provide locks and helmets for no charge. They even have bikes that can carry families. The bikes can fit on some types of bike racks (so plan ahead) or you can just ride away from the Local Motion pick-up site right onto the waterfront.

Wednesday is burger night, so we decided to ride there after work. We got there so quickly we had time for a longer ride and out to the Rt 127 bike path we went. We cut back over the bridge, rode through Ethan Allen Park, and then over to the Burlington Greenway for a quick stop at North Beach. We then headed back to Chubby Muffin for our burger and beer and ended a beautiful night with a ride back downtown.

The e-bike: it takes a bit to get used to how to use the 9 gears and the e-assist settings. We rode further and faster than we would have. The e-assist makes all hills easy; I used a range of settings for different hills and rarely hit the TURBO setting. TIP: Best to stay in the lowest gear workable.

Biking in #BTV: The new Greenway is phenomenal for everything including biking. The Rt. 127 bike path is in great shape. It takes some creativity to ride between them. Cheers for the N. Union Street protected lane, though it’s limited to one way. I wish I had planned the route back more thoughtfully. Where is the info on the best bike routes? Maybe ParkBurlington with support from Local Motion needs to create it.


Air Force Reaffirms Plan to Base F-35 at Airport


Earlier this week, Mayor Miro Weinberger announced in a press release that the Air Force had made clear their intention to base F-35’s at Burlington International Airport, and that any alternative “flying mission” is unlikely. In written response, U.S. Air Force Secretary, Dr. Heather Wilson stated, in regards to an alternative mission:

“We expect the first F-35 aircraft to arrive in Burlington in 2019. This decision was finalized in 2013 after a 48-month review which assessed 205 locations and concluded that the Burlington International Airport was the best Air National Guard option. If that decision were to be reversed, the Vermont Air National Guard would likely lose their flying mission upon the retirement of the F-16s. The Air Force is much smaller than it was at the end of the Cold War. We have fewer bases and fewer aircraft. As a result, some states no longer have flying missions for their National Guard and the competition to secure new missions is fierce.”

The above referenced letter sent from Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson on May 23rd, specified that the F-35’s were due to be based at BTV in 2019. In addition the letter stated that there is no alternative flight mission for the Vermont Air National Guard, meaning that removal of the F-35’s would mean the eventual end of the Vermont Air National Guard flight mission. This position clears up much of the speculation that there was an alternative to the F-35 Flight Mission for VTANG. Such speculation led a group called Save our Skies to place a question on Burlington’s March ballot which resulted in action by the Burlington City Council to ask the U.S. Air Force to provide information, ask for clarification of certain issues, and evaluate the possibility of an alternative mission for VTANG.

Secretary Wilson’s response puts to rest any questions regarding the future of VTANG at Burlington International Airport. The original decision, made in 2013 after a four year review period, has consistently been supported by Mayor Weinberger, Governor Phil Scott and Vermont’s entire congressional delegation.

“I welcome Secretary Wilson’s response to Burlington, which provides clarity in two important respects. First, it signals the United States Air Force’s continued commitment to its 2013 decision to base F-35s at the Burlington International Airport. Second, it provides a strong confirmation of what many of us have long thought: reversing the F-35 basing decision at this late date would likely lead to the end of the VTANG flying mission, jeopardizing hundreds of jobs and threatening the strength of our region’s economy. This clear, decisive communication should bring some measure of resolution of this issue to the community.” said the Mayor in a statement.

Our organization has consistently supported the basing of F-35’s locally. The Vermont Air National Guard hold a distinguished record of service for our State and Country. In addition the Air Guard mission at Burlington International Airport is a tremendous benefit to our local economy, providing jobs and investment here in Chittenden County and supporting fire and safety services at the Airport which would otherwise be paid for by Burlington tax payers.


DAG Downtown Clean Up Hits Main Street

Volunteers from BBA’s DAG Committee were joined by downtown businesses for a street clean up event on Friday May 11th. The group met at on the corner of Church and Cherry at 8:30 am. The weather was crisp and cool but sunny for the early morning clean up. Working their up and down Main street, volunteers swept, picked up trash and cigarette butts, and cleared litter out of tree grates. Covering both sides of Main street from South Winooski to Saint Paul Street, volunteers covered a large area over the course of an hour.

BBA’s DAG committee launched these seasonal clean up events to coincide with their Adopt Your Sidewalk campaign, an initiative designed by the committee to empower downtown business owners to take ownership of their “strip of Burlington”, and clean and maintain their sidewalk and facades. Now in its’ third year, the seasonal clean up events are a great way to rally business owners and staff, and put the group’s energy towards helping make Burlingtons downtown clean, safe and welcoming for all.

As a thank you to volunteers who participated in the clean up, CarShare VT gave out a special promotion for their service.

Thank you to everyone who joined us!

Interested in learning more about BBA’s Committees? Check out the list of committees descriptions here.




Registration Open for Waterfront FAM Tour

The BBA’s Annual Waterfront FAM(iliarization) Tour is one of our most popular events. Kick off your summer with the BBA and learn what our Waterfront members have planned for this summer, all while enjoying a morning cruise aboard the Spirit of Ethan Allen III on Lake Champlain.

Event Date: Thursday June 7th, 2018

Event Time: 7:30 am – 9:30 am

Location: Aboard the Spirit of Ethan Allen III, 1 College Street, Burlington VT 05401

More information and registration

Thank You to Our Event Host and Catering Sponsor:

BBA and Perrywinkles Partner to Donate $4000 to Street Outreach Team

Burlington, VT — For forty years, the Burlington Business Association (BBA) has found ways to give back to the community it works in support of. For this year’s BBA Annual Dinner and Awards, held Thursday, April 5th, 2018, the BBA partnered with Perrywinkle’s Fine Jewelry, who generously donated a Rolex Oyster Perpetual watch and winder package valued at $8,150 to be raffled off at the annual event. A portion of the proceeds from this raffle are being donated to the Howard Center Street Outreach team. The Street Outreach Team is made up of four individuals, including team leader, Tammy Boudah, Hannah Toof, Casey Lee, and Eric Goldmann.

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