Circ Update

The Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has come out against the latest redesign for the Circumferential Highway in Chittenden County.  In a recent letter, the EPA stated that the plan would cause unacceptable damage to wetlands and streams.  The EPA has the authority to stop the highly contentious project, and in the letter recommended that the alternative plan "is too environmentally harmful to receive a permit".  The EPA also noted that less environmentally damaging alternatives are feasible.  Read the EPA letter and the associated comments.

Hinesburg Project Receives Housing Endorsement

A new residential development in Hinesburg called Thistle Hill was recently awarded Housing Endorsement from the Vermont Smart Growth Collaborative. This designation is given to new residential developments that are consistent with Vermont's historic pattern of compact, walkable villages and cities surrounded by working rural lands.

"Thistle Hill is a strong model for how to build new neighborhoods that fit Vermont," said Noelle MacKay, Executive Director of Smart Growth Vermont, a member of the Vermont Smart Growth Collaborative. "It will provide homes for middle-income Vermonters in the kind of walkable community that so many people are looking for."

The developer of Thistle Hill is Hinesburg Hillside, LLC, an affiliated company of Sterling Construction, Inc., which is based in South Burlington. Construction is underway, with 57 homes to be built over the next five years by Sterling Construction.

"We're excited to have received Housing Endorsement for this project," said Bart Frisbie, a partner in Hinesburg Hillside. "It was designed and is being built with so many of the endorsement criteria in mind, from the village location to the mix of housing types. It's great to see the traditional Vermont-style work that we do recognized and honored in this way."

The community includes single family homes, duplexes, and condos for seniors. It is within walking distance of Hinesburg's village center, with a wide range of services and jobs located close by. It has sidewalks along the streets as well as walking paths in a conserved wooded area, making it easy for residents to get around without getting in their cars.

"This project scored well in the Housing Endorsement process," MacKay noted. "The developers are making a real effort to build a great neighborhood that provides housing options for a wide range of folks while preserving important agricultural lands and open space."

Redstone Receives Housing Endorsement For Banknorth Block

View of Banknorth Block from the Southwest corner of Pine Street.

Redevelopment of Burlington's Banknorth Block, which is planned to be complete with the plan for addition of a 125-room hotel, 36-unit apartment building, and 238 space parking garage in the mid-block, has received Housing Endorsement from the Vermont Smart Growth Collaborative.

"This project received a high score from our review committee," said Smart Growth Vermont Executive Director Noelle MacKay, "due to its mixture of housing types, integration of a mixture of uses, proximity to key services, access to transportation options and infill development of a key city block."

In scoring the development, Collaborative members looked at the proposed project as well as the first phase of development which recently received a Smart Growth Award from Smart Growth Vermont. The first phase combined a mix of homes and office space all within easy walking distance of several bus routes, jobs, shops, schools and Burlington's waterfront. Through a partnership of Housing Vermont, the Champlain Housing Trust, Redstone, and Farrell Real Estate, an historic was restored and converted to 15 modern condos, and two historic homes were renovated into apartments, and Champlain Housing Trust is now headquartered in a modern building includes 17 fixed rated and 3 market rate apartments.

"This project not only boosts Burlington's tax base, it also enhances the urban fabric of a prominent block in Vermont's largest city," said MacKay.

"Redstone is pleased to accept an endorsement from the Vermont Smart Growth Collaborative for the multi-phased redevelopment of the BankNorth Block in downtown Burlington," said Erik Hoekstra, Redstone Development Manager. "This project involves historic rehab, adaptive reuse,brownfield cleanup, and dense urban infill on a site in center of the Queen City. Projects like this present a level of complication requiring a broad coalition of support. Having the organizations involved in the Smart Growth Collaborative onboard will help Redstone put the pieces together to complete this innovative development." Their target for groundbreaking is summer 2010, and completion by 2012.