Meeting Announcement: July 20 6-8pm at the Worthen Library

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Our Lake is Sick

These photos were taken July 4, 2023 along the west shore of South Hero, including McBride Bay, Barnes Bay and Sawyer Bay.

This is an island wide disaster. This was a foaming bloom — full-bodied pea soup coating the rocks. Just disgusting!!! White’s Beach was closed and beach volleyball cancelled. No swimming, and keep the dogs out of the water.

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Take a Stand!!!

Does the proposed 2023 South Hero Town Plan express YOUR vision?
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Sketch of Town Park

The following sketch was submitted at the May 8, 2023 meeting of the Selectboard. There was a request for $75,000 in ARPA funding for initial infrastructure for a Town Park behind the Meeting House (access drive, parking and mowing the field).  The sketch showed 86** parking spaces, which appear to occupy 1/3 of the entire park area. The planned park is situated behind the Old White Meeting House and is not yet owned by the town.

**The scan was a cut-and-paste of two pages, resulting in a slight gap in the middle of the image.

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Draft Town Plan now available for public review and comment

Residents are now encouraged to read the draft town plan here. There will be a public hearing on May 17, 2023 at a meeting of the Planning Commission. This is an opportunity for the public to give feedback to the Planning Commission on the draft plan, before it is presented to the Selectboard for their review.

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Articles 7 & 8 in Pictures

These articles are confusing, so hopefully these pictures will help.

Why is this so confusing?

The confusion stems from the current zoning regulations not being on the ballot in 2020.  Many voters, including residents of the areas affected, are not aware of their current zoning.  If your house is in the pink areas shown in the maps, you zoning is as follows:

  • no minimum lot size (it used to be 1 acre)
  • houses may be built 10 feet from the property line (it used to be 25 feet)
  • sheds and garages may be built 5 feet from the property line (it used to be 15 feet)
  • building height may be up to 40 feet (it used to be 35 feet)
  • no stated minimum green space, etc.

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Articles 7 & 8 are not discriminatory

The South Hero Planning Commission has criticized Articles 7 & 8 on the upcoming Ballot as “discriminatory”, with the implication that affordable housing will no longer be an option in the 568 acres proposed to revert to their previous rural/residential or shoreland zoning .  This is not true.

In fact, our development regulations allow even greater density in the rural/residential (which includes farmland and forests) and shoreland zones than some downtown areas in Vermont that have access to water, sewer, transportation and jobs.

For reference, a Seven Days article for January 16, 2023 ** says Vermont Rep. Seth Bongartz is introducing a bill to clear the way for low- and moderate-income housing in downtown areas and to steer development away from farmland and forests. 
“Bongartz’s bill… would require towns to allow duplexes to be built anywhere that a single-family home is allowed — and fourplexes to be built in areas connected to water and sewer.”

But already, every  parcel in South Hero is permitted to build a duplex anywhere that a single-family home is allowed.  And fourplexes are also an option (with conditional approval and site plan review) even without pre-existing access to water, sewer, etc. 
For larger developments in the rural/residential zoning district, a parcel could be built up as a Planned Unit Development or PUD .  The PUD (see page 25***) has clustered development where contiguous tracts of open space or productive land are preserved.  There are very generous bonuses of additional housing units permitted when open space and accessible housing (see page 28***) are included in the plan.

***page 25 of the development regulations at

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Maps and Visuals for Feb. 23, 2023 Discussion on Articles 7 & 8

2015 South Hero Town Plan.pdf
2015 South Hero Zoning (2015 Town Plan, p.77)
2015 SHIZAC survey (2015 Town Plan, p.67).pdf
2015 South Hero village center designation (2015 Town Pan, p. 80)
2015 Keeler Bay village center designation (2015 Town Plan, p.81)
2015 South Hero Proposed Uses (2015 Town Plan, p.78)
Current (2020-04-27) South Hero VCD Board-Approved Map
2022 VZD Survey (unofficial door-to-door) Results with percents.pdf
2022 South Hero VZD outlined with DVC overlay
2022 Keeler Bay VZD outlined with DVC overlay
2022 South Hero Village Zoning Districts with silver outline of VCD

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Timeline of Events that Resulted in Articles 7 & 8

The timeline below demonstrates that our Planning Commission (PC) did not address resident concerns about either the no minimum lot size or the large size of the Village Zoning Districts (VZDs) earmarked for high-density development until after they received the citizen petition to shrink the VZDs. Further, in our opinion, the proposed Village Neighborhood zoning districts the PC is now considering are still much too large.


  • ​June, 2022,​ ​a town survey conducted by the PC went live without any questions on preferences for lot sizes and setbacks. These two issues were known to be the most important and contested features of the current development regulations. Residents, including those who lived in the village zone and were most impacted by very dense village zoning, advocated repeatedly for these questions to be on the survey. The Planning Commission refused. A direct appeal to the Selectboard was ignored.
  • Late July, 2022, citizen volunteers–disappointed by not being heard– created a survey on these issues and began a campaign to go door-to-door to engage residents who lived in the Village Zoning Districts (VZD). 
  • August, 2022, Northwest Regional Planning Commission (not our own Planning Commission) proposes a special meeting to revisit concerns about zoning in the villages.
  • September 7, 2022, a 2-hr event at the Worthen Library on the subject of the village zones (including the no-minimum-lot-size zone) was well attended. Despite considerable testimony questioning the density encouraged by no minimum lot size and requests to remove all shoreland property from this zone, no concessions were made by the PC in follow-up discussions about this event.
  • November 16, 2022, Joan Falcao presented the results of the door-to-door survey of the VZD residents to the PC. The 57 responses obtained for this survey were more than the 23 responses that the PC’s official online survey obtained from residents living in the village zones. Overwhelmingly, survey respondents do not want the new zoning regulations promoting dense development in their neighborhoods.
  • December 7, 2022, at their meeting, the PC doubled down on promoting wide-spread high density and discouraged input and/or collaboration with residents, as recorded in the minutes… “S Gregg pointed out our focus is to develop a good town plan. We can reevaluate land use/village zoning as a goal in the [new] Town Plan.” NB: A goal means it may be dealt with later — or not.
  • December 14, 2022, the legal citizen petition on Articles 7 & 8 was given to the Town Clerk.  On that same day, the PC chair was notified by email that the petition was submitted, was given a soft copy of the petition, and the PC was asked to discuss the petition at its next meeting on December 21.
  • December 21, 2022, the Northwest Regional Planning Commission (NRPC) suddenly presented new maps suggesting minimum lot sizes where there had been none and removing all shoreland property from dense development zoning. Further, the proposed maps broke up each of the two VZDs into two new zoning districts – Village Cores and Village Neighborhoods.  This was a complete surprise to members of the public who had been following the PC’s work on the new Town Plan. Given the revisions proposed by NRPC, the PC Chair then asked Bob Fireovid and Joan Falcao, who were in attendance, if they would withdraw the petition “since the issues were already being addressed.”  Bob and Joan rightfully responded that they had no authority to make such a decision on behalf of the 111 other voters who signed the petition.
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Bayview Crossing Project Completion!

It felt like a triumphant crossing of the finish line!  South Hero and C.I.D.E.R. have held this dream of senior housing in the islands for decades.

Cindy Reid of Cathedral Square addressed the Selectboard in their February 13 meeting.  She expressed appreciation for all the community enthusiasm and support.  You can watch her 11-minute presentation on LCATV at this link (it’s first on the agenda):​​The finished project provides 30 independent-living units of affordable rental housing for seniors.

​Cindy fielded questions about occupancy (100% of 30 independent living units), waiting list (86), ​construction costs and financing, sources of support and more.  Due to the state and federal support, applicants for housing are not limited to Grand Isle County; although, over half (57%) have connections to the Islands (were either from the Islands, or have family in the Islands, or summered in the Islands) .  All 30 units, even those called “market rate” are income-restricted to individuals with income up to half the median income.  The funding sources for housing totaled $10,720,925; although, original pre-pandemic estimates for construction were $6.6 million.  The largest (61%) funding source was a federal tax-credit equity loan.  “It’s really hard to do any new housing production without tax credits.”

Earlier, Joan Falcao had spoken with Jason Posner, Executive Director of C.I.D.E.R., and he guessed that 3 residents were from South Hero and 3 were former residents who were able to return.  So that is why she asked about replicability and expressed the opinion that our senior rental housing needs are not yet met.

The supporting documents mentioned in Cindy’s presentation are available at this link.

Cindy was very knowledgeable and articulate, so please watch her presentation if you have an interest in this project.

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