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South Burlington City


South Burlington City Hall is located at 575 Dorset Street, South Burlington, VT 05403; phone: 802-846-4107.

The City of South Burlington [1] covers approximately 10,600 acres in the western part of Chittenden County. It is bounded to the northwest by Burlington, the largest city in Vermont. The Winooski River is the northern boundary between South Burlington, Colchester and Essex. To the east, Muddy Brook runs the entire length of South Burlington and separates the city from Williston. Shelburne bounds the city on the south. The southwest section of the city lies on Lake Champlain with 2 1/4 miles of shoreline.

South Burlington is a regional employment, trade, housing, and transportation center. It is also home to substantial natural resources and recreational facilities and programming, a high quality elementary, secondary, and higher education school system, and vibrant neighborhoods. The City is host to many visitors, having the most hotel rooms in the State.

South Burlington's geographic location, natural resources, and natural features have made it a desirable place for settlement for centuries. South Burlington lies between Lake Champlain, the Winooski River, and the Shelburne Pond watershed. South Burlington's location between these major drainage areas and bodies of water, as well as its natural resources, made the area naturally suited to occupation throughout prehistoric times. There is archaeological evidence that suggests human populations occupied the area as early as 8000 BC. With the arrival of European settlers at the close of the 18th century, South Burlington was transformed into a farming community. The area is well suited to agriculture due to its gently rolling, fertile soils. Industrial activity also arose around Winooski Falls and the natural lime rock was extracted and refined through kilns. Monkton quartzite was quarried from the eastern edge of the town and utilized in many Burlington foundations. The introduction of the Winooski Turnpike (now Williston Road) and a stagecoach route along what is now Hinesburg Road made South Burlington a central location in the early years of the 19th century. Some taverns and other commercial structures sprang up sporadically along these transportation routes.

Initially development included shared services and utilities with Burlington, which grew to be the financial and service center of the area. In 1865, South Burlington and Burlington became separate communities, with Burlington being the population and business hub and South Burlington being largely agrarian. Farmers brought their goods to Burlington and exchanged them for manufactured goods. The introduction of the railroad along the shores of Lake Champlain brought tourists to the area. Queen City Park became a popular religious summer camp and eventually developed a railroad stop of its own and the Burlington Trolley line was extended to service the area in the closing years of the 19th century. Growth continued slowly for South Burlington through the first years of the 20th century. With the introduction of the automobile, development shifted to major roads such as Williston Road. In 1919, work was begun on the airport which would become the Burlington International Airport. South Burlington began to become a transportation hub for Chittenden County. With the post-World War II economic expansion, development took off in both the commercial/industrial and residential sectors. Major residential neighborhoods close to the airport, begun prior to World War II, accelerated the pace of construction after the war during the 1940s and 1950s.

The community adopted zoning in 1947 in an effort to provide order to the exploding growth. Between 1940 and 1950, the city's population more than doubled. Pre-war efforts to extend municipal water services from Burlington came to fruition along Williston Road. Between 1950 and 1960, the population doubled again. Many businesses sprang up along Williston Road and Shelburne Road. Diners, motels, restaurants, as well as retail shops and offices began to line these popular strips. Many roadside businesses developed distinctive designs and signs to stand out to the motorist. Farmland was quickly converted to dense development. Conversely, areas such as Southeast Quadrant and the lakeshore saw little development during this time period.

South Burlington formally was granted city status in 1971.

  1. South Burlington Vermont, Comprehensive Plan, 2016, www.sburl.com, accessed September, 2017.
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