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Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Beta Expansion at Airport Hits Snag Over SoBu Parking Regs

Posted By on Tue, Mar 29, 2022 at 4:49 PM

The Beta facility at BTV - FILE: OLIVER PARINI
  • File: Oliver Parini
  • The Beta facility at BTV
Beta Technologies' plan to construct an electric aircraft manufacturing plant at the Burlington International Airport hit a snag last week over the placement of a parking lot, prompting outcry from the fast-growing startup and Gov. Phil Scott.

South Burlington's Development Review Board gave conditional approval to the master plan for Beta's 40-acre airport campus. But a single condition — that the company erect a building to block a parking lot from view along Williston Road — could sink the project entirely, the company claimed.

Scott addressed the matter at his weekly press conference Tuesday, just as the municipal board was voting to reopen Beta's application, a sign that it may reconsider its recent decision. Failure to do so, Scott told reporters, could prompt Beta to move its manufacturing plant to Plattsburgh, N.Y., where it already tests its experimental aircraft, or elsewhere.

"We can't let that happen," he said. "This is too important."

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Northern Stage Theater to Build Apartments for Staff in White River Junction

Posted By on Tue, Mar 29, 2022 at 4:33 PM

Northern Stage in White River Junction - COURTESY OF RACHEL WILLIAMSON
  • Courtesy of Rachel Williamson
  • Northern Stage in White River Junction
Northern Stage, a nonprofit theater company in White River Junction, plans to build 15 apartments for its workers and visiting artists on a site that the theater purchased on Monday.

The new property is half a block down the street from the theater. It was previously the home of an insurance company that moved out in 2018. The buildings on-site will be demolished to make way for the new apartments.

Founded in 1997, Northern Stage employs 40 people full time and draws about 250 artists each year on short-term contracts.

The theater company owns 15 homes and apartments in Quechee and White River Junction that it rents to staff at 30 percent lower than market value, said Ryan Klink, the company’s director of sales and marketing. Northern Stage also rents 14 apartments in the area because the company is contractually obligated to provide housing for its visiting artists, he said.

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Monday, March 28, 2022

Woodstock Program Would Pay Property Owners to Provide Long-Term Rentals

Posted By on Mon, Mar 28, 2022 at 9:26 PM

  • Courtesy of Jennifer Schmidtke
  • Downtown Woodstock
The Town of Woodstock’s Economic Development Commission wants to pay property owners who turn their short-term rentals into long-term housing.

The incentive program — which the Woodstock Selectboard must first approve  — would use $35,000 from the town Economic Development Commission’s $303,000 budget for grants this year. Short-term rental owners would get $3,000 if they sign a one-year lease with a tenant, and $7,000 if they sign a two-year lease.

The plan, which the commission approved last week, is loosely based on a recently enacted program called Rent Local in the ski town of Big Sky, Mont. The payments there depend on the size of the rental unit and length of the lease.

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Thursday, March 17, 2022

Boves Reverse Course, Say They Won't Evict Winooski Tenants

Posted By and on Thu, Mar 17, 2022 at 11:08 PM

300 North Main apartments - DEREK BROUWER ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Derek Brouwer ©️ Seven Days
  • 300 North Main apartments
This story was updated at 3 p.m. on March 18, 2022.

Following weeks of public outcry, Mark and Rick Bove say they no longer plan to kick out the 24 low-income, mostly refugee families who live at a housing complex the brothers own in Winooski.

The Boves told tenants in February that they would all need to leave by July 1 ahead of "major renovations" at the 300 Main Street property. The brothers then intended to raise rents at the updated complex to market rate.

But affordable housing organizations, nonprofits that support refugees and immigrants, and Winooski city officials all decried the mass eviction at a time when rents are soaring and housing is hard to come by. They later pressed the issue in a letter to state lawmakers, calling for reforms that would better protect tenants. A community fundraiser started over the weekend to support the families had raised more than $16,000 as of Friday afternoon.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2022

UVM Medical Center to Help Build Apartment Complex for Employees

Posted By on Wed, Mar 9, 2022 at 5:36 PM

University of Vermont Medical Center - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • University of Vermont Medical Center
Vermont’s largest hospital is working with a local developer to build 61 apartments for its employees.

The University of Vermont Medical Center says it is investing $2.8 million into a soon-to-be-constructed apartment building on Market Street in South Burlington. The Snyder Braverman Development Company will own and operate the building and plans to break ground in the coming weeks.

UVM Medical Center leaders say the first-of-its-kind arrangement will preserve the apartments for hospital staff for at least the next 10 years in an attempt to attract new workers to the area.

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Friday, March 4, 2022

A New, Affordable Neighborhood Is Planned for Hinesburg

Posted By on Fri, Mar 4, 2022 at 12:54 PM

  • © Andrii Yalanskyi | Dreamstime
The Champlain Housing Trust has announced plans to build 100 new homes in Hinesburg to provide families an affordable place to live — a project conceived amid a housing crisis wrought by soaring costs.

Philanthropist Jan Blomstrann, the former owner of NRG Systems, a renewable energy firm based in Hinesburg, is donating 46 acres of land south of  Champlain Valley Union High School for the neighborhood, CHT announced on Friday. Not yet planned in detail, the new neighborhood is expected to have family-friendly amenities such as sledding hills, playgrounds and trails.

CHT will develop 40 homes and Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity will put up 20. Habitat uses volunteer labor including "sweat equity" from those who are to live in its homes, in order to keep prices low.

These 60 homes will be for families earning less than the median area income — about $86,400 for a family of three. They'll use a "shared equity" model in which the owners, when they sell, share funds from appreciation of the home in order to keep the houses affordable in perpetuity.

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Friday, February 25, 2022

Developers Sue South Burlington Over New Land Use Regs

Posted By on Fri, Feb 25, 2022 at 7:09 PM

Homes under construction at the O'Brien Farm development - JAMES BUCK
  • James Buck
  • Homes under construction at the O'Brien Farm development
Updated on February 27, 2022.

Developers Jeff Nick and Jeff Davis have sued the City of South Burlington and three city councilors over new land use regulations, which the developers claim would prevent them from building on roughly one-third of their 112-acre property at 835 Hinesburg Road.

The regulations, which passed earlier this month by a 3-2 city council vote after years of contentious negotiations, prohibit development in wildlife corridors, known as “habitat blocks.” The suit, filed Thursday in federal court through an LLC registered in Davis' name, alleges that the City of South Burlington relied on outdated satellite imaging to map the habitat blocks at 835 Hinesburg Road without conducting an in-person assessment of the land’s ecology. As a result, the suit claims, the habitat blocks lack scientific rigor, and the moratorium on development in those areas constitutes an unlawful seizure of their property.

Councilors Meaghan Emery, Helen Riehle and Tim Barritt, all of whom voted in favor of the new regulations, are named as defendants. The suit seeks monetary damages and an injunction barring the city from enforcing the regulations.

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Monday, February 21, 2022

Winooski Hotel Developer Sues City Over Stymied Plans

Posted By on Mon, Feb 21, 2022 at 9:36 PM

The original proposed site of the Winooski Hotel Group hotel - FILE: MATTHEW THORSEN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • File: Matthew Thorsen ©️ Seven Days
  • The original proposed site of the Winooski Hotel Group hotel
Hotel developer Adam Dubroff is suing the City of Winooski, saying its failure to cooperate with his plans has irreparably harmed and damaged his company, the Winooski Hotel Group.

The hotel group is seeking financial damages and other unspecified compensation. It blames — and is also suing — the Winooski Downtown Redevelopment Association for opposing the group's plans to build a seven-story hotel across from the downtown roundabout, a plan the company has been working on with the city since 2014.

“Now, seven years later … the plaintiff’s good faith efforts to deliver the hotel originally envisioned remain stymied,” the suit says.

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Monday, January 10, 2022

Rental Housing Bill to Return as Part of New, Larger Measure

Posted By on Mon, Jan 10, 2022 at 7:59 PM

The Vermont Statehouse - ANNE WALLACE ALLEN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Anne Wallace Allen ©️ Seven Days
  • The Vermont Statehouse
Faced with an impasse over some disputed issues in the rental housing bill that Gov. Phil Scott vetoed in July, housing advocates plan to take a different approach this winter, creating a larger, more comprehensive housing bill that includes permitting and other matters.

The rental housing bill, S.79, would have established a statewide registry of rentals and created paid inspector positions through the state Division of Fire Safety, replacing the volunteer health officer positions now used in most Vermont towns.
Advocates for the bill said it would help ensure that Vermont’s rental housing is safer and would make it easier for tenants to find a place to live. The bill — which included short-term rentals in its registry proposal — won legislative approval last spring. But Gov. Phil Scott vetoed the measure on July 2, saying its added bureaucracy would discourage apartment owners from offering their units for rent.

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Monday, December 20, 2021

Champlain Housing Trust Buys a Second Shelburne Road Motel

Posted By on Mon, Dec 20, 2021 at 4:43 PM

  • Champlain Housing Trust
  • Days Inn in Shelburne
The Champlain Housing Trust has purchased the Days Inn in Shelburne and plans eventually to relocate its transitional housing program at Harbor Place across Shelburne Road to the hotel property. Harbor Place, meantime, will be turned into 100 units of permanent housing.

The purchase is the second in a month for Champlain Housing Trust. On November 30, the trust purchased a Marriott in Williston, TownePlace Suites, to shelter formerly homeless and low-income Vermonters.

The trust, a nonprofit, owns and manages housing for more than 3,000 families or individuals in Chittenden, Franklin, and Grand Isle Counties.

The trust plans to convert hotel rooms at Harbor Place into apartments, and to add one apartment building and one set of townhouses and condominiums at that property, said Chris Donnelly, the director of community relations for the trust. Ultimately, the projects will create about 40 more apartments overall, Donnelly said.

The trust brought the proposal before Shelburne's development review board last week.

Donnelly said the trust would not have been able to purchase the hotels without the federal COVID-19 relief money that lawmakers and the governor's office directed to housing projects this year. The state used the Days Inn for people experiencing homelessness, but the property had been emptied recently as those programs ended, Donnelly said. The housing trust paid $6 million for the property, and will use a $7.34 million grant for the purchase and renovation costs. It's expected to be ready for its new residents in February or March.
The housing created at the Harbor Place project will be permanent, Donnelly said.

“We’re actually providing a solution to homelessness,” he said. A motel room, often with no kitchen facilities, can only be a temporary measure;  the permanent units will have a kitchen and other amenities. “It provides a security of tenure, stability and a home,” he said.

Champlain Housing Trust is a member of Building Homes Together, a regional effort created to address the shortage of affordable housing in northwestern Vermont. On December 14, that group launched a campaign to build 5,000 new homes, with 1,250 of them designated as permanently affordable, over the next five years. Housing advocates generally describe affordable housing as consuming one-third of a family’s income.
Donnelly said the trust is planning or developing about 700 homes, including those at Harbor Place. The COVID-19 relief money, which is administered through the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, has jump-started the trust’s efforts to buy and build apartments, he said.

The trust now owns eight former hotels and motels in Chittenden County, and Donnelly said it's looking for more properties.

“There is an opportunity ahead to improve a lot of peoples’ lives," he said. 

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