I have been following with interest the events around Harbor Place. At its inception it was swept in behind closed doors without any Shelburne community notification. That secrecy by Champlain Housing Trust and the former Shelburne Town Manager felt disrespectful to me and a bit suspicious at the time. Their disregard of Shelburne’s legal, local zoning processes must have been the reason, I see now. However, like most Shelburne residents, I am interested in giving a hand to those in need, so I put my skepticism on hold.
Now I see our community crime skyrocket directly as a response to those housed in Harbor Place. I see chronic abuse of our rescue squad by those housed in Harbor Place. I see town residents and town officials try to have a dialogue with Champlain Housing Trust in order to make improvements so as to protect community members and to have them pay for the huge added expenses generated by their program. They don’t seem to be listening.
It’s unfortunate that Champlain Housing Trust is acting as an irresponsible landlord and a poor program manager. Do the rules not apply to them? If this were a bar or a fraternity on Shelburne Road with these obvious sequelae, would the town of Shelburne have extended the courtesy with which they have tried to accommodate Champlain Housing Trust?
Instead of erecting a silly “vacancy” sign to evade Shelburne’s zoning regulations and to continue to do battle with the community, it would be in the best interest of both the clients of Champlain Housing Trust, the community members of the Town of Shelburne, and the reputation of Champlain Housing Trust, if Champlain Housing Trust would acknowledge that their new program is not delivering the help as they envisioned; that its arrival is damaging our community, as they are running it now.
They must hold up an accurate lens with which to perform a critical self-examination. Champlain Housing Trust’s huffing and puffing political hubris with its disregard for others around the operation of Harbor Place in Shelburne has eroded their reputation with a lot of community members. I’ll be interested to watch how they choose to move forward.
Chris Armstrong, Shelburne