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Burlington Takes a New Look at Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance

At a public hearing last Wednesday evening, a representative from CZP LLC presented the results of a comprehensive study commissioned by the city of Burlington on the 27 year-old Inclusionary Zoning ordinance. The ordinance was originally designed to promote economic integration within the city and socieo-economic diversity. The ordinance requires any development with five or more housing units to sell or rent a percentage of those units for less than market rates.

The consultants found that the ordinance has had success integrating market-rate an affordable housing units, particularly in areas of generally lower socioeconomic status. A primary critique, however, was that the ordinance may have limited housing production in the city since its inception, causing suburbs to absorb more of the development.

During the public comment period following the presentation, the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition’s Erhard Mahnke, one of the original authors of the ordinance, countered that the intent of the ordinance was not to promote housing production, but rather to create economically inclusive and diverse neighborhoods throughout Burlington, which it has done.

The report also included recommendations for ways to move forward with Inclusionary Zoning. The three paths outlined several strategies for trying to grapple with economic inclusion while taking into account financial strategies for funding such projects.

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