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 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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BBA Comments on Bank & Cherry Street Designs

In April, the City of Burlington unveiled its designs for upgrades to Bank and Cherry Streets. These plans present a tremendous opportunity to enhance the quality of these two busy downtown streets.

We understand and have heard from our members that even amongst our group there exists a range of sometimes competing interests as it relates to the redevelopment of Bank and Cherry Streets. Generally, our group is unified in our support of downtown revitalization and streetscape projects which meet the following goals:

  • Increase downtown vibrancy, especially on side streets and the waterfront
  • Improve the downtown experience for visitors, residents, employees, and community members
  • Connect downtown with the waterfront
  • Well position our downtown as a leading 21st Century City

It is our hope that the City’s final plan will find creative ways to meet the needs of both bicycles and pedestrians while maintaining on-street parking to the fullest extent possible. PlanBTV Downtown and Waterfront, as well as, Burlington’s Bike Walk Masterplan provide a directives that can ensure that upgrades meet these goals.

Our business community is united in calling out the need for improvement in the condition of sidewalks, the green strip and streets downtown including Cherry and Bank. We understand the importance of a walkable, livable downtown and appreciate the City of Burlington’s efforts to move us forward in that direction. The proposed plans generally support more vibrant sidestreets.

In addition the BBA has a number of recommendations for the design:

  • Inclusion of Parklets: we assert than any proposed parklets must be managed and maintained by either abutting businesses or a future downtown improvement district to be successful as public spaces
  • Parklets are not needed so close to Church Street as that street provides a large number of such amenities.
    • A parklet and reduced turning radius needs to eliminated at the loading zone entrance for CVS on Cherry Street.
  • Any seating features should adhere to the City’s current policy on public seating and benches. Seating and respite areas should have clear site lines for safety and security reasons.
  • Parking Kiosks: BBA has reached out to the Department of Public Works to discuss the use of kiosks for downtown on-street parking. We ask that the City accept additional comment from BBA and DPW jointly on this feature and allow time for us to meet and review this feature in context of the Downtown Parking & Transportation Management Plan adopted by City Council in December of 2015
  • Bicycle Parking: while we support additional bicycle parking, we ask that any decision on location take into consideration the recommendations on locations for additional bike parking in downtown submitted to DPW as a part of the Downtown Parking and Transportation Management Plan
  • Recycling/Trash Receptacles: these are a welcome addition to the location. As many as is manageable should be included in these areas
  • Street Lighting: new street lighting should have a consistent design with existing street lighting. It should also accommodate decorative lighting with working outlets and street banners
  • Bus Traffic Patterns: the plan should include eliminating any bus routes which include navigation over Church Street to improve pedestrian safety and quality of experience
  • Loading Zones and other speciality purpose parking spaces should be configured to allow for public parking in the evenings and overnight.

The BBA will continue to monitor this process and look continue to work the City and stakeholders to ensure that the final product best meets the needs of local businesses.