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Burlington Developer Asks City to Change Zoning Ordinance

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“Density” is a word local politicians bat around a lot, but opinions definitely vary on how tall and tightly packed downtown Burlington’s buildings should be. The range of opinions will become clear when a local developer asks for permission to erect a building that violates the city’s freshly minted zoning laws. If Redstone Commercial Group is allowed to build what it wants in the block that encompasses Pine, Main, King and St. Paul streets, the result could change the Queen City skyline. It wants a proposed 20,000-square-foot building in the center of the property to be able to rise to a height of 105 feet — about the height of the Cathedral Square building on Cherry Street — rather than the 65 feet currently permitted under city law.

Erik Hoekstra, a development manager with Redstone, said the amendment makes sense because it is consistent with the Burlington Planning Commission’s goal of increasing downtown density. Hoekstra added that the mixed-use building, fronting both Pine and St. Paul streets, would probably include residential units and be set back from the sidewalk so pedestrians wouldn’t be overwhelmed by “towering” façades.

At the end of December, the Burlington Planning Commission recommended that the city council pass the amendment that turns the zoning clock back on this particular property. The goal is to “maximize” King Street’s “development potential” and preserve its “historic character and residential scale,” according to a letter from Planning Commission Chair Emily Stebbins.

The city council’s ordinance committee will review the amendment at its January 28 meeting.

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