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.