Beta Expansion at Airport Hits Snag Over South Burlington Parking Regs
Source: Seven Days
Beta Technologies’ plan to construct an electric aircraft manufacturing plant at the Burlington International Airport hit a snag last week over the placement of a parking lot, prompting outcry from the fast-growing startup and Gov. Phil Scott.
South Burlington’s Development Review Board gave conditional approval to the master plan for Beta’s 40-acre airport campus. But a single condition — that the company erect a building to block a parking lot from view along Williston Road — could sink the project entirely, the company claimed.
Scott addressed the matter at his weekly press conference Tuesday, just as the municipal board was voting to reopen Beta’s application, a sign that it may reconsider its recent decision. Failure to do so, Scott told reporters, could prompt Beta to move its manufacturing plant to Plattsburgh, N.Y., where it already tests its experimental aircraft, or elsewhere.
“We can’t let that happen,” he said. “This is too important.”
Scott said he would ask state legislators to step in should South Burlington officials fail to waive the city’s parking lot requirements or otherwise resolve the issue quickly
“This is not just about jobs for Chittenden County; this is going to have a ripple effect across the entire state,” Scott said of Beta’s proposal. “I think this is as big as when IBM decided to locate in Vermont. This is going to have that big an impact on us.”
South Burlington land-use regulations require that parking lots for newly constructed buildings be located behind or alongside them, not in front. Beta’s master plan calls for its 344,000-square-foot manufacturing and office building to be placed as close to the airport tarmac as possible, pushing the 300-plus space parking lot toward the road.
The company’s long-term plan includes a commercial building along Williston Road that would block the lot from view, but Beta wants to build it during a later phase of development. The company told the review board that they don’t have any tenants lined up for the building, which costs $5 million, and they’d be diverting the money away from their business to sink into an empty building.
In the interim, the campus would be out of compliance with city parking rules.
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