The natural beauty of Vermont was one big reason why Jake Jemas’ 17 (environmental studies, management, and economics) transferred to Green Mountain College two years ago. In his work as an intern this summer he got to spend time soaking in scenic views worth preserving in the municipality of South Burlington.
“When you get off the main highways like Route 7 and onto some of the smaller streets and roads in town, the views are really striking,” Jake said. “Sometimes it’s a little hard to keep your eyes on the road!”
A native of Princeton, N.J., Jake completed an internship this summer at the South Burlington Department of Planning and Zoning under the tutelage of office director Paul Conner.
“One of the first days on the job, Paul gave me a thick binder of land use regulations in the city of South Burlington and said, ‘Jake while you’re here I want you to make this as thin as possible.’”
Jake’s first project involved sifting through overlapping sets of street regulations dating back several decades and creating a streamlined set of standards for the city covering everything from right of way widths to speed limits. At the end of the summer he passed a much slimmer guidebook into the hands of the city engineer.
His second main project involved scenic view preservation, an important factor in creating cityscapes people want to live in. Jake used Google Picasa, GIS mapping, and contingent surveys to create maps that identified the best city views—many facing the west over Lake Champlain to the Adirondacks and some east toward the Green Mountains.
“I created customizable maps of views that can be accessed by residents and ranked according to their importance,” he said. At the end of the internship he presented his findings to the South Burlington Land Use Management Committee and local residents at a public meeting. The work might lead to revised zoning policy or land acquisition by the city to preserve the most important scenic views, creating a better climate for recreation and economic development.
Jake attended Goucher College in New Jersey for two years, but wasn’t satisfied with the environmental studies track there. He searched for colleges with the best reputations for environmental sustainability and decided on GMC. “I’ve had a great experience here, and the internship gave me insight into working in public service.”
Graduate school is in his future, but after completing his studies at GMC in the fall Jake is looking to leverage his experience in a job in public policy.