Representatives are pro-development

I watch the happenings around Shelburne, with all of the talk on the Planning Commission and on the SelectBoard of changing: (1)  the sewer system borders to support development and (2)  the rural zoning that is the core of Shelburne.

I became curious about the current members of the Planning Commission and the Select Board.

Planning Commission: Brian Precourt,  Chair of PC,  is a developer who owns Shelburne Shopping Center along with many other properties in Town; Dan Burks is a senior manager of a printing company; Ron Bouchard sales and marketing director for Homestead Design, home building company; Kate Lalley, landscape architect, pro-development and consults to Shelburne on projects; Dick Elkins, occupation unknown; and
Ann Hogan, occupation unknown.

Selectboard: Al Gobeille, owns and operates Gobeille Hospitality, and is Chair of the Burlington Business Association. His businesses include four popular restaurants and catering businesses: Shanty on the Shore, Burlington Bay Market and Café, Breakwater Café and Grill, and Northern Lights Cruises; Allison Cranmer, project manager for Green Mountain Roasters, past management for Country Home Products; Gary von Strange, attorney with “extensive experience in Vermont real estate projects,” according to his website; Toni Supple, owns Picket Fence Preview; Tim Pudvar, Chair, sales representative of heavy construction equipment at Nortrax.

It appears that these two groups are heavily pro-development as has been witnessed while watching them during their meetings. It could be implied that there could be personal gain for some of these members with more development in Shelburne.  Just think of what could be constructed if the sewer boundary is expanded or special consideration is given to a developer, such as O’Brien who wants to add 120 residences in the field on Irish Hill Road (a field outside the sewer boundary and zoned rural).  This development will include an apartment complex, several streets with condos, and a smattering of homes. Does Shelburne really need 120 new residences of this type in a rural zone?

The current vote on the O’Brien project in the Planning Commission is 3 to 3, causing a stalemate. The Selectboard is in the process of appointing another person to the Planning Commission who will tip the scale, causing a 4 to 3 vote. William Stuono, who is a resident of Shelburne and has a degree in Urban Planning has applied twice to the Planning Commission and the Development Review Board (DRB), and been rejected each time. He is an advocate for careful planning and Smartgrowth, has served on the South Burlington Planning Commission and DRB, and has been involved with zoning issues for a very long time. Why would a person of his education and experience be rejected? Instead, the Selectboard has stated that they will be appointing someone that they choose within the next two weeks. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see the credentials of this person they have in mind, and where this person’s opinion sits on development? We should as a town be able to see this person’s credentials before the appointment takes place.

Pushing through this development and manipulating sewer boundaries and current zoning could be viewed as gerrymandering if the O’Brien project is pushed through without it going to a town referendum. It is a very major change to the character of our town to increase the sewer boundaries into our rural areas, and to build a 120-unit residential development in a field that holds wildlife and natural resources such as the LaPlatte River, both of which will be seriously impacted.  The Town’s people, not three or four individuals with an apparent agenda and a slim majority vote in favor of development, should hold that right.

Sueayn Wood, Shelburne

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