Zoning Proposals Bad For Montpelier
Returning to Montpelier after several years abroad, I was dismayed by the Planning Commission’s city-wide zoning proposals. If implemented, they would dramatically alter the historic character of our neighborhoods and make Montpelier unrecognizable.
The proposals call for too much density, in too short a time, in too many places, with too little consideration of negative effects, such as the impacts on road infrastructure, traffic congestion, safety and parking.
Towne Hill, where I live, would see a 61 percent increase in density, with no public transportation and only a single road — in poor condition — to serve a greatly expanded population. It would lose its semi-rural character and open the door to larger structures in a landscape now dotted by single-family dwellings.
If you are a Montpelier resident, I urge you to check the zoning plan for your neighborhood and carefully evaluate what these proposals would mean for your quality of life.
Carol Doerflein, Montpelier
New Zoning Ordinance Will Create A Mess
A few months ago I noted to The Bridge community that the Montpelier Planning Commission was proposing some dramatic changes in Montpelier’s zoning. In particular, they proposed large increases in housing density in the neighborhoods located near the periphery of the city. For example, along my street (Greenock Avenue), taking in account both minimum lot area and frontage requirements, 19 homes could be built where there are now seven. And, one or more of those “homes” could actually be a 19-room inn. Higher densities would be allowed with “planned unit developments.”
My family and many of my neighbors chose our neighborhood because of its open spaces, which were largely guaranteed by the existing 1 acre (43,500 sq ft) zoning. The proposed decrease in minimum lot could result in a drastic change in the character of neighborhoods like ours. A number of my neighbors took the time to protest the changes. While the planning commission made some changes, it largely stuck with their original approach and has sent the plan to the city council. Their argument is that Montpelier needs growth to survive. But, increasing the density throughout the city is not the answer. Growth is most effective near the center of the city, where it is convenient for residents to walk to services. In areas more than about ¼ mile from the center, most people will drive to services, and growth will result in increased traffic and exacerbation of downtown’s parking problems. And, in addition to creating this mess, it will deprive residents of a choice of their living environment. I strongly urge residents to take a look at the proposed zoning, which can be found at: http://www.montpelier-vt.org/481/Rezoning. If they don’t like what they see, they need to make sure their views are known to the City Council. If they don’t, that nice view or space near their home may go away. The next City Council meeting is March 22. Check their agenda at http://www.montpelier-vt.org/416/Media-Archive to see if they will be discussing zoning. In the meantime, write, email or phone your city representative.
Michael Read, Montpelier
A Free Press Is Essential for Democracy
I am an 89-year-old Vermont resident with macular degeneration, so a friend is typing this for me, but the thoughts are mine and are based on my history before and during World War II. I spent my childhood in Europe, moving as an adolescent to the United States to escape the repressive regimes of Franco, Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini.
I learned at a young age how dangerously suppressing the media is. I find recent comments suggesting the media is the enemy of the American people frightening, because shutting down the free flow of information is one of the first tools dictators use to manipulate public opinion and obscure the leaders’ intentions.
Despite claims of “fake news” and certain misrepresentations from competing publications, truth eventually emerges thanks to the ongoing efforts of dedicated journalists. You can be sure that the more those in power complain about the press, the more they have to hide.
We must be ever vigilant in defending the First Amendment, which states in part, “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press … .” Our forefathers wrote these words to ensure that Americans are given facts and the context in which to separate facts from rumor or deceitful proclamations of the government. Calling the press “the opposition party” is a contemptuous dismissal of the Amendment and thus our Constitution, which is why all of us, regardless of party affiliation, must insist the administration operate within the laws outlined in our founders’ remarkable document.
Alicia Cusimano, Marshfield
Don’t Drive To Climate Change Seminars
The sentence “I do think something’s up with our weather but I’m not sure that our people and our economy are ready or even able to fix it” in Burr Morse’s “Makin’ Sugar Through Climate Change” essay in the March 2 to March 15 Bridge reinforced my growing realization that public educational meetings about global warming at venues like Montpelier’s Unitarian Church do more harm than good. Why?
At the close of almost all the meetings I’ve walked to I’ve asked if fellow attendees are willing to indicate by raising their hands how many arrived by car. Admittedly I live close to the church, library and other meeting facilities. But among the usual hundred or more hands raised, I’ve noticed not such a small number of people who I know also live within walking distance of the event. I don’t remember any who cannot walk because of disabilities. Not only do people not seem hesitant about raising their hands, they laugh.
Maybe there’s something I’m missing. But I don’t find this funny. This and last winter’s bizarrely warm temperatures make it seem not too extreme to suggest that all these events literally and maybe urgently be discontinued. Every small reduction in driving may contribute cumulatively to saving the earth.
Ron Merkin, Montpelier
Where is global warming when we need it? I do look forward to the first day of spring, balmy weather, and flowers in bloom. The first day of spring is actually a perfect opportunity to turn over a new leaf in our personal habits — to clean house, to jog outdoors and to replace animal foods with healthy, delicious vegetables, legumes, grains and fruits.
The shift toward healthy eating is everywhere. Fast-food chains like Chipotle, Quiznos, Starbucks, Subway, Taco Bell and Wendy’s offer plant-based options. Parade, Better Homes and Gardens and Eating Well are touting vegan recipes.
Google Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt views replacement of meat by plant protein as the world’s #1 technical trend. The financial investment community is betting on innovative start-ups like Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods, while warning clients about “death of meat.” Even Tyson Foods new chief executive officer sees plant protein as the meat industry’s future.
Indeed, Global Meat News reports that nearly half of consumers are reducing meat intake. Beef consumption has dropped by 43 percent in the past 40 years. Each of us can celebrate spring by checking out the rich collection of plant-based dinners and desserts in our supermarket’s frozen food, dairy and produce sections.
Maxwell Branset, Montpelier
What Do You Think?
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