Though they are waiting for clarifying information the Burlington Select Board is poised to raise the fees for the demolition of residential homes beyond the recommendation of the Building Department.
The proposal to raise the fee for complete residential demotion from the recommended $100 to $200 to instead going up to $1,000 came from Select Board Member Mike Runyan who suggested the extra funds be put into an account that can be used to help people, especially seniors, stay in their homes. He noted that in Burlington there is a trend that at least one single family home is being torn down a week and that the average price of the new homes being built is $1.4 million. He argued that this is pricing new families and people on fixed income out of the housing market in town.
“Burlington has always had a well diversified community and we provided housing for all income levels in town,” he said. “But that’s been rapidly changing at a rather alarming rate of almost one house per week falling victim to the demolition process and being replaced by homes that more middle class and lower class cannot afford.”
Runyan admitted he did not have the exact solution to the problem but suggested the additional funds raised by a higher demolition fee could go to grants for things like ramps or grab bars that would allow seniors to stay in their homes longer.
“I’m thinking of things that make their lives a little bit easier rather than going into a senior living community that will devour any assets they have built up by living here,” he said.
Other members of the board said they agreed with the proposal but wanted to ensure that the fee increase wouldn’t impact average residents who wanted to make modifications to their homes rather than tearing them down altogether. At the recommendation of Town Administrator Paul Sagarino they agreed to postpone a formal vote until the February 14 meeting when they will receive all the relevant information from the Building Department.