Tag Archives: Helen Riehle

The Rule of Privilege in South Burlington

When I picture South Burlington in my mind’s eye, I see the curb-to-curb traffic of Shelburne and Williston Roads, the shopping malls, the big parking lots, the land-gobbling subdivisions. I don’t usually think of the area pictured above — the southeastern part of SoBu, which is on the precipice of transformation from countryside to suburbia.

The area in that image is less than two miles wide, but a majority of South Burlington City Council lives comfortably within that frame. Three of the five councilors live within a mile of each other, and only one lives outside the city’s southeastern census tract.

Which explains why the letters section of VTDigger has recently been flooded by councilors and their allies slagging S.100, the bill that would ease regulatory restrictions on housing construction. The issue is literally at their front doors. The sprawl is oozing like The Blob around them, and they want to keep whatever power they have over the process.

It was little more than a year ago that South Burlington City Council voted to block development in large swaths of — you guessed it — the southeastern quadrant.

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Toward a more (capital “D”) Democratic Senate

Suddenly there’s one less Republican in the State Senate.

Sen. Diane Snelling announced Tuesday her resignation from the Senate to take a key state environmental job.

… Snelling… will be taking the job as chair of the Natural Resources Board, which oversees the regional commissions that rule on Act 250 development applications.

Gov. Shumlin chose former State Senator Helen Riehle to serve the rest of Snelling’s term. Riehle will not seek a full term in November.

Snelling has been in the Senate for 14 years. She’d been noncommittal on the subject of running for re-election, so maybe this move shouldn’t be a surprise. And chairing the Natural Resources Board is a prestigious job in line with her interests, but her departure is bad news for her party.

Snelling has been the only Republican in the six-member Chittenden County delegation; she has consistently won re-election in that liberal hotbed, while every other Republican has badly trailed the field. Republicans’ chances of retaining her seat? We’re talking snowballs in Hell.

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