Skip to navigation Skip to content Skip to subnav
Searching 2017-2018 Session

The Vermont Statutes Online

Title 24: Municipal and County Government

Chapter 117: MUNICIPAL AND REGIONAL PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT

  • Subchapter 001: GENERAL PROVISIONS; DEFINITIONS
  • § 4301. Short title

    This chapter may be referred to as the Vermont Planning and Development Act. (Added 1967, No. 334 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. March 23, 1968.)

  • § 4302. Purpose; goals

    (a) General purposes. It is the intent and purpose of this chapter to encourage the appropriate development of all lands in this State by the action of its constituent municipalities and regions, with the aid and assistance of the State, in a manner which will promote the public health, safety against fire, floods, explosions, and other dangers; to promote prosperity, comfort, access to adequate light and air, convenience, efficiency, economy, and general welfare; to enable the mitigation of the burden of property taxes on agricultural, forest, and other open lands; to encourage appropriate architectural design; to encourage the development of renewable resources; to protect residential, agricultural, and other areas from undue concentrations of population and overcrowding of land and buildings, from traffic congestion, from inadequate parking and the invasion of through traffic, and from the loss of peace, quiet, and privacy; to facilitate the growth of villages, towns, and cities and of their communities and neighborhoods so as to create an optimum environment, with good civic design; to encourage development of a rich cultural environment and to foster the arts; and to provide means and methods for the municipalities and regions of this State to plan for the prevention, minimization, and future elimination of such land development problems as may presently exist or which may be foreseen and to implement those plans when and where appropriate. In implementing any regulatory power under this chapter, municipalities shall take care to protect the constitutional right of the people to acquire, possess, and protect property.

    (b) It is also the intent of the Legislature that municipalities, regional planning commissions, and State agencies shall engage in a continuing planning process that will further the following goals:

    (1) To establish a coordinated, comprehensive planning process and policy framework to guide decisions by municipalities, regional planning commissions, and State agencies.

    (2) To encourage citizen participation at all levels of the planning process, and to assure that decisions shall be made at the most local level possible commensurate with their impact.

    (3) To consider the use of resources and the consequences of growth and development for the region and the State, as well as the community in which it takes place.

    (4) To encourage and assist municipalities to work creatively together to develop and implement plans.

    (c) In addition, this chapter shall be used to further the following specific goals:

    (1) To plan development so as to maintain the historic settlement pattern of compact village and urban centers separated by rural countryside.

    (A) Intensive residential development should be encouraged primarily in areas related to community centers, and strip development along highways should be discouraged.

    (B) Economic growth should be encouraged in locally designated growth areas, employed to revitalize existing village and urban centers, or both, and should be encouraged in growth centers designated under chapter 76A of this title.

    (C) Public investments, including the construction or expansion of infrastructure, should reinforce the general character and planned growth patterns of the area.

    (D) Development should be undertaken in accordance with smart growth principles as defined in subdivision 2791(13) of this title.

    (2) To provide a strong and diverse economy that provides satisfying and rewarding job opportunities and that maintains high environmental standards, and to expand economic opportunities in areas with high unemployment or low per capita incomes.

    (3) To broaden access to educational and vocational training opportunities sufficient to ensure the full realization of the abilities of all Vermonters.

    (4) To provide for safe, convenient, economic and energy efficient transportation systems that respect the integrity of the natural environment, including public transit options and paths for pedestrians and bicyclers.

    (A) Highways, air, rail, and other means of transportation should be mutually supportive, balanced, and integrated.

    (5) To identify, protect, and preserve important natural and historic features of the Vermont landscape, including:

    (A) significant natural and fragile areas;

    (B) outstanding water resources, including lakes, rivers, aquifers, shorelands, and wetlands;

    (C) significant scenic roads, waterways, and views;

    (D) important historic structures, sites, or districts, archaeological sites, and archaeologically sensitive areas.

    (6) To maintain and improve the quality of air, water, wildlife, forests, and other land resources.

    (A) Vermont's air, water, wildlife, mineral, and land resources should be planned for use and development according to the principles set forth in 10 V.S.A. § 6086(a).

    (B) Vermont's water quality should be maintained and improved according to the policies and actions developed in the basin plans established by the Secretary of Natural Resources under 10 V.S.A. § 1253.

    (C) Vermont's forestlands should be managed so as to maintain and improve forest blocks and habitat connectors.

    (7) To make efficient use of energy, provide for the development of renewable energy resources, and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

    (A) General strategies for achieving these goals include increasing the energy efficiency of new and existing buildings; identifying areas suitable for renewable energy generation; encouraging the use and development of renewable or lower emission energy sources for electricity, heat, and transportation; and reducing transportation energy demand and single occupancy vehicle use.

    (B) Specific strategies and recommendations for achieving these goals are identified in the State energy plans prepared under 30 V.S.A. §§ 202 and 202b.

    (8) To maintain and enhance recreational opportunities for Vermont residents and visitors.

    (A) Growth should not significantly diminish the value and availability of outdoor recreational activities.

    (B) Public access to noncommercial outdoor recreational opportunities, such as lakes and hiking trails, should be identified, provided, and protected wherever appropriate.

    (9) To encourage and strengthen agricultural and forest industries.

    (A) Strategies to protect long-term viability of agricultural and forestlands should be encouraged and should include maintaining low overall density.

    (B) The manufacture and marketing of value-added agricultural and forest products should be encouraged.

    (C) The use of locally-grown food products should be encouraged.

    (D) Sound forest and agricultural management practices should be encouraged.

    (E) Public investment should be planned so as to minimize development pressure on agricultural and forest land.

    (10) To provide for the wise and efficient use of Vermont's natural resources and to facilitate the appropriate extraction of earth resources and the proper restoration and preservation of the aesthetic qualities of the area.

    (11) To ensure the availability of safe and affordable housing for all Vermonters.

    (A) Housing should be encouraged to meet the needs of a diversity of social and income groups in each Vermont community, particularly for those citizens of low and moderate income.

    (B) New and rehabilitated housing should be safe, sanitary, located conveniently to employment and commercial centers, and coordinated with the provision of necessary public facilities and utilities.

    (C) Sites for multi-family and manufactured housing should be readily available in locations similar to those generally used for single-family conventional dwellings.

    (D) Accessory apartments within or attached to single-family residences which provide affordable housing in close proximity to cost-effective care and supervision for relatives, elders, or  persons who have a disability should be allowed.

    (12) To plan for, finance and provide an efficient system of public facilities and services to meet future needs.

    (A) Public facilities and services should include fire and police protection, emergency medical services, schools, water supply, and sewage and solid waste disposal.

    (B) The rate of growth should not exceed the ability of the community and the area to provide facilities and services.

    (13) To ensure the availability of safe and affordable child care and to integrate child care issues into the planning process, including child care financing, infrastructure, business assistance for child care providers, and child care work force development.

    (14) To encourage flood resilient communities.

    (A) New development in identified flood hazard, fluvial erosion, and river corridor protection areas should be avoided. If new development is to be built in such areas, it should not exacerbate flooding and fluvial erosion.

    (B) The protection and restoration of floodplains and upland forested areas that attenuate and moderate flooding and fluvial erosion should be encouraged.

    (C) Flood emergency preparedness and response planning should be encouraged.

    (d) All plans and regulations prepared under the authority of this chapter shall be based upon surveys of existing conditions and probable future trends, and shall be made in the light of present and future growth and requirements, and with reasonable consideration, for the landowner, to topography, to needs and trends of the municipality, the region and the State, to the character of each area and to its peculiar suitability for particular uses in relationship to surrounding areas, and with a view to conserving the value of buildings.

    (e) Use of goals.

    (1) The goals established in this section shall be employed, as provided under this chapter, to carry out the general purposes established in this section.

    (2) After July 1, 1989, none of the following shall be prepared or adopted, unless consistent with the goals established in this section:

    (A) all plans prepared by regional planning commissions, and all plans required of State agencies under 3 V.S.A. § 4020;

    (B) measures implementing State agency plans.

    (f) Standard of review.

    (1) As used in this chapter, "consistent with the goals" requires substantial progress toward attainment of the goals established in this section, unless the planning body determines that a particular goal is not relevant or attainable. If such a determination is made, the planning body shall identify the goal in the plan and describe the situation, explain why the goal is not relevant or attainable, and indicate what measures should be taken to mitigate any adverse effects of not making substantial progress toward that goal. The determination of relevance or attainability shall be subject to review as part of a consistency determination under this chapter.

    (2) As used in this chapter, for one plan to be "compatible with" another, the plan in question, as implemented, will not significantly reduce the desired effect of the implementation of the other plan. If a plan, as implemented, will significantly reduce the desired effect of the other plan, the plan may be considered compatible if it includes the following:

    (A) a statement that identifies the ways that it will significantly reduce the desired effect of the other plan;

    (B) an explanation of why any incompatible portion of the plan in question is essential to the desired effect of the plan as a whole;

    (C) an explanation of why, with respect to any incompatible portion of the plan in question, there is no reasonable alternative way to achieve the desired effect of the plan; and

    (D) an explanation of how any incompatible portion of the plan in question has been structured to mitigate its detrimental effects on the implementation of the other plan. (Added 1967, No. 334 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. March 23, 1968; amended 1969, No. 116, § 1; 1979, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 1987, No. 200 (Adj. Sess.), § 7, eff. July 1, 1989; 1989, No. 280 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 1991, No. 130 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2003, No. 67, § 7b; 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 82; 2013, No. 16, § 1, eff. July 1, 2014; 2013, No. 96 (Adj. Sess.), § 161; 2013, No. 146 (Adj. Sess.), § 4, eff. May 27, 2014; 2015, No. 64, § 27; 2015, No. 171 (Adj. Sess.), § 14; 2015, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 2.)

  • § 4303. Definitions

    The following definitions shall apply throughout this chapter unless the context otherwise requires:

    (1) "Affordable housing" means either of the following:

    (A) Owner-occupied housing for which the total annual cost of ownership, including principal, interest, taxes, insurance, and condominium association fees, does not exceed 30 percent of the gross annual income of a household at 120 percent of the highest of the following:

    (i) the county median income, as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development;

    (ii) the standard metropolitan statistical area median income if the municipality is located in such an area, as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; or

    (iii) the statewide median income, as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

    (B) Rental housing for which the total annual cost of renting, including rent, utilities, and condominium association fees, does not exceed 30 percent of the gross annual income of a household at 80 percent of the highest of the following:

    (i) the county median income, as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development;

    (ii) the standard metropolitan statistical area median income if the municipality is located in such an area, as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; or

    (iii) the statewide median income, as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

    (2) "Affordable housing development" means a housing development of which at least 20 percent of the units or a minimum of five units, whichever is greater, are affordable housing units. Affordable units shall be subject to covenants or restrictions that preserve their affordability for a minimum of 15 years or longer as provided in municipal bylaws.

    (3) "Appropriate municipal panel" means a planning commission performing development review, a board of adjustment, a development review board, or a legislative body performing development review.

    (4) "Bylaws" means municipal regulations applicable to land development adopted under the authority of this chapter.

    (5) "Capacity study" means an inventory of available natural and human-made resources, based on detailed data collection, that identifies the capacities and limits of those resources to absorb land development. Data gathered, relevant to the geographic information system, shall be compatible with, useful to, and shared with the geographic information system established under 3 V.S.A. § 20.

    (6) "Conformance with the plan" means a proposed implementation tool, including a bylaw or bylaw amendment that is in accord with the municipal plan in effect at the time of adoption, when the bylaw or bylaw amendment includes all the following:

    (A) Makes progress toward attaining, or at least does not interfere with, the goals and policies contained in the municipal plan.

    (B) Provides for proposed future land uses, densities, and intensities of development contained in the municipal plan.

    (C) Carries out, as applicable, any specific proposals for community facilities, or other proposed actions contained in the municipal plan.

    (7) "Element" means a component of a plan.

    (8) "Flood hazard area" for purposes of sections 4348a, 4382, 4411, 4424, and 4469 of this title shall have the same meaning as "area of special flood hazard" under 44 C.F.R. § 59.1. Further, with respect to flood, river corridor protection area, and other hazard area regulation pursuant to this chapter, the following terms shall have the following meanings:

    (A) "Floodproofing" shall have the same meaning as "flood proofing" under 44 C.F.R. § 59.1.

    (B) "Floodway" shall have the same meaning as "regulatory floodway" under 44 C.F.R. § 59.1.

    (C) "Hazard area" means land subject to landslides, soil erosion, fluvial erosion, earthquakes, water supply contamination, or other natural or human-made hazards as identified within a "local mitigation plan" enacted under section 4424 of this title and in conformance with and approved pursuant to the provisions of 44 C.F.R. § 201.6.

    (D) "National Flood Insurance Program" means the National Flood Insurance Program under 42 U.S.C. chapter 50 and implementing federal regulations in 44 C.F.R. parts 59 and 60.

    (E) "New construction" means construction of structures or filling commenced on or after the effective date of the adoption of a community's flood hazard bylaws.

    (F) "Substantial improvement" means any repair, reconstruction, or improvement of a structure, the cost of which equals or exceeds 50 percent of the market value of the structure either before the improvement or repair is started or, if the structure has been damaged and is being restored, before the damage occurred. However, the term does not include either of the following:

    (i) Any project or improvement of a structure to comply with existing State or local health, sanitary, or safety code specifications that are solely necessary to assure safe living conditions.

    (ii) Any alteration of a structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places or a State inventory of historic places.

    (G) "Equilibrium condition" means the width, depth, meander pattern, and longitudinal slope of a stream channel that occurs when water flow, sediment, and woody debris are transported by the stream in such a manner that it generally maintains dimensions, pattern, and slope without unnaturally aggrading or degrading the channel bed elevation.

    (H) "Fluvial erosion" means the erosion or scouring of riverbeds and banks during high flow conditions of a river.

    (I) "River" means the full length and width, including the bed and banks, of any watercourse, including rivers, streams, creeks, brooks, and branches which experience perennial flow. "River" does not mean constructed drainageways, including water bars, swales, and roadside ditches.

    (J) "River corridor" means the land area adjacent to a river that is required to accommodate the dimensions, slope, planform, and buffer of the naturally stable channel and that is necessary for the natural maintenance or natural restoration of a dynamic equilibrium condition and for minimization of fluvial erosion hazards, as delineated by the Agency of Natural Resources in accordance with river corridor protection procedures.

    (K) "River corridor protection area" means the area within a delineated river corridor subject to fluvial erosion that may occur as a river establishes and maintains the dimension, pattern, and profile associated with its dynamic equilibrium condition and that would represent a hazard to life, property, and infrastructure placed within the area.

    (9) "Legislative body" means the selectboard in the case of a town, the trustees in the case of an incorporated village, and the mayor, alderpersons, and city council members in the case of a city, and the supervisor in the case of an unorganized town or gore.

    (10) "Land development" means the division of a parcel into two or more parcels, the construction, reconstruction, conversion, structural alteration, relocation, or enlargement of any building or other structure, or of any mining, excavation, or landfill, and any change in the use of any building or other structure, or land, or extension of use of land.

    (11) "Municipal land use permit" means any of the following whenever issued:

    (A) A zoning, subdivision, site plan, or building permit or approval, any of which relate to "land development" as defined in this section, that has received final approval from the applicable board, commission, or officer of the municipality.

    (B) A wastewater system permit issued under any municipal ordinance adopted pursuant to chapter 102 of this title.

    (C) Final official minutes of a meeting that relate to a permit or approval described in subdivision (11)(A) or (B) of this section that serve as the sole evidence of that permit or approval.

    (D) A certificate of occupancy, certificate of compliance, or similar certificate that relates to the permits or approvals described in subdivision (11)(A) or (B) of this section, if the bylaws so require.

    (E) An amendment of any of the documents listed in subdivisions (11)(A) through (D) and (F) of this section.

    (F) A certificate of approved location for a salvage yard issued under subchapter 10 of chapter 61 of this title.

    (12) "Municipality" means a town, a city, or an incorporated village or an unorganized town or gore. An incorporated village shall be deemed to be within the jurisdiction of a town for the purposes of this chapter, except to the extent that a village adopts its own plan and one or more bylaws either before, concurrently with, or subsequent to such action by the town, in which case the village shall have all authority granted a municipality under this chapter and the plans and bylaws of the town shall not apply during such period of time that said village plan and bylaws are in effect.

    (13) "Nonconforming lots or parcels" means lots or parcels that do not conform to the present bylaws covering dimensional requirements but were in conformance with all applicable laws, ordinances, and regulations prior to the enactment of the present bylaws, including a lot or parcel improperly authorized as a result of error by the administrative officer.

    (14) "Nonconforming structure" means a structure or part of a structure that does not conform to the present bylaws but was in conformance with all applicable laws, ordinances, and regulations prior to the enactment of the present bylaws, including a structure improperly authorized as a result of error by the administrative officer.

    (15) "Nonconforming use" means use of land that does not conform to the present bylaws but did conform to all applicable laws, ordinances, and regulations prior to the enactment of the present bylaws, including a use improperly authorized as a result of error by the administrative officer.

    (16) "Nonconformity" means a nonconforming use, structure, lot, or parcel.

    (17) "Person" means an individual, a corporation, a partnership, an association, and any other incorporated or unincorporated organization or group.

    (18) "Plan" means a municipal plan adopted under section 4385 of this title.

    (19) "Planned unit development" means one or more lots, tracts, or parcels of land to be developed as a single entity, the plan for which may propose any authorized combination of density or intensity transfers or increases, as well as the mixing of land uses. This plan, as authorized, may deviate from bylaw requirements that are otherwise applicable to the area in which it is located with respect to lot size, bulk, or type of dwelling or building, use, density, intensity, lot coverage, parking, required common open space, or other standards.

    (20) "Planning commission" means a planning commission for a municipality created under subchapter 2 of this chapter.

    (21) "Public notice" means the form of notice prescribed by section 4444, 4449, or 4464 of this title, as the context requires.

    (22) "Regional plan" means a plan adopted under section 4348 of this title.

    (23) "Regional planning commission" means a planning commission for a region created under subchapter 3 of this chapter.

    (24) "Renewable energy resources" means energy available for collection or conversion from direct sunlight, wind, running water, organically derived fuels, including wood and agricultural sources, waste heat, and geothermal sources.

    (25) "Rural town" means a town having, as at the date of the most recent U.S. census, a population of less than 2,500 persons, as evidenced by that census, or a town having 2,500 or more but less than 5,000 persons that has voted by Australian ballot to be considered a rural town.

    (26) "Should" means that an activity is encouraged but not mandated.

    (27) "Structure" means an assembly of materials for occupancy or use, including a building, mobile home or trailer, sign, wall, or fence.

    (28) "Technical deficiency" means a defect in a proposed plan or bylaw, or an amendment or repeal thereof, correction of which does not involve substantive change to the proposal, including corrections to grammar, spelling, and punctuation, as well as the numbering of sections.

    (29) "Telecommunications facility" means a tower or other support structure, including antennae, that will extend 20 or more feet vertically, and related equipment, and base structures to be used primarily for communication or broadcast purposes to transmit or receive communication or broadcast signals.

    (30) "Transit pass" means any pass, token, fare card, voucher, or similar item entitling a person to transportation to and from work on mass transit facilities and provided by an employer consistent with Internal Revenue Code Section 132(f).

    (31) "Urban municipality" means a city, an incorporated village, or any town that is not a rural town.

    (32) "Wetlands" means those areas of the State that are inundated by surface or groundwater with a frequency sufficient to support vegetation or aquatic life that depend on saturated or seasonally saturated soil conditions for growth and reproduction. Such areas include marshes, swamps, sloughs, potholes, fens, river and lake overflows, mud flats, bogs, and ponds, but excluding such areas as grow food or crops in connection with farming activities.

    (33) "Public road" means a State highway as defined in 19 V.S.A. § 1 or a class 1, 2, or 3 town highway as defined in 19 V.S.A. § 302(a). A municipality may, at its discretion, define a public road to also include a class 4 town highway as defined in 19 V.S.A. § 302(a).

    [Subdivisions (34) through (37) effective January 1, 2018.]

    (34) "Forest block" means a contiguous area of forest in any stage of succession and not currently developed for nonforest use. A forest block may include recreational trails, wetlands, or other natural features that do not themselves possess tree cover, and uses exempt from regulation under subsection 4413(d) of this title.

    (35) "Forest fragmentation" means the division or conversion of a forest block by land development other than by a recreational trail or use exempt from regulation under subsection 4413(d) of this title.

    (36) "Habitat connector" means land or water, or both, that links patches of wildlife habitat within a landscape, allowing the movement, migration, and dispersal of animals and plants and the functioning of ecological processes. A habitat connector may include recreational trails and uses exempt from regulation under subsection 4413(d) of this title. In a plan or other document issued pursuant to this chapter, a municipality or regional plan commission may use the phrase "wildlife corridor" in lieu of "habitat connector."

    (37) "Recreational trail" means a corridor that is not paved and that is used for hiking, walking, bicycling, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, all-terrain vehicle riding, horseback riding, and other similar recreational activity. (Added  1967, No. 334 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. March 23, 1968; amended 1969, No. 116, § 2; 1969, No. 223 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. March 31, 1970; 1971, No. 78, § 3, eff. April 16, 1971; 1971, No. 257 (Adj. Sess.), § 20, eff. April 11, 1972; 1973, No. 261 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. July 1, 1974; 1975, No. 164 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 1979, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 1981, No. 132 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 1, 1a, 2, 2a; 1985, No. 188 (Adj. Sess.), § 6; 1987, No. 200 (Adj. Sess.), § 17, eff. July 1, 1989; 1989, No. 280 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 1995, No. 122 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. Apr. 25, 1996; 1997, No. 94 (Adj. Sess.), § 6, eff. April 15, 1998; 1999, No. 46, § 4, eff. May 26, 1999; 1999, No. 161 (Adj. Sess.), § 7; 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 83; 2009, No. 93 (Adj. Sess.), § 5; 2011, No. 138 (Adj. Sess.), § 11, eff. May 14, 2012; 2011, No. 155 (Adj. Sess.), § 13; 2013, No. 16, § 2, eff. July 1, 2014; 2013, No. 34, § 14; 2015, No. 171 (Adj. Sess.), § 15, eff. Jan. 1, 2018; 2017, No. 69, § H.2, eff. June 28, 2017.)

  • § 4303a. Computation of time

    Where an event is required or permitted to occur by this chapter before, on or after a specified period of time measured from another event, in calculating the period:

    (1) the first day shall not be counted; and

    (2) the final day shall be counted. (Added 1981, No. 132 (Adj. Sess.), § 3.)

  • § 4304. Planning and land use manual

    (a) The Commissioner of Housing and Community Development shall prepare, maintain, and distribute from time to time to all municipalities a manual setting forth:

    (1) a copy of this chapter, together with all amendments thereof;

    (2) examples of land planning policies, and maps and documents prepared in conformance with plan requirements;

    (3) an explanation and illustrative examples of bylaws, capital programs, budgets, and procedures authorized in this chapter; and

    (4) other explanatory material and data which will aid municipalities in the preparation of plans, capital budgets, programs, and the administration of bylaws authorized in this chapter.

    (b) The Commissioner of Housing and Community Development shall, from time to time, confer with interested persons with a view toward ensuring the maintenance of such manual in a form most useful to those regions and municipalities making use of it.

    (c) Sections of this manual may be cited in any plan or bylaw in the same manner as citations of this chapter, and may be incorporated by reference in any plan bylaw. (Added 1967, No. 334 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. March 23, 1968; amended 1971, No. 257 (Adj. Sess.), § 22, eff. April 11, 1972; 1975, No. 164 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 1995, No. 190 (Adj. Sess.), § 1(a); 2013, No. 146 (Adj. Sess.), § 5, eff. May 27, 2014.)

  • § 4305. Repealed. 2009, No. 146 (Adj. Sess), § G4, eff. June 1, 2010.

  • § 4306. Municipal and Regional Planning Fund

    (a)(1) The Municipal and Regional Planning Fund for the purpose of assisting municipal and regional planning commissions to carry out the intent of this chapter is hereby created in the State Treasury.

    (2) The Fund shall be comprised of 17 percent of the revenue from the property transfer tax under 32 V.S.A. chapter 231 and any monies from time to time appropriated to the Fund by the General Assembly or received from any other source, private or public. All balances at the end of any fiscal year shall be carried forward and remain in the Fund. Interest earned by the Fund shall be deposited in the Fund.

    (3) Of the revenues in the Fund, each year:

    (A) 10 percent shall be disbursed to the Vermont Center for Geographic Information;

    (B) 70 percent shall be disbursed to the Secretary of Commerce and Community Development for performance contracts with regional planning commissions to provide regional planning services pursuant to section 4341a of this title; and

    (C) 20 percent shall be disbursed to municipalities.

    (b)(1) Allocations for performance contract funding to regional planning commissions shall be determined according to a formula to be adopted by rule under 3 V.S.A. chapter 25 by the Department for the assistance of the regional planning commissions. Disbursement of funding to regional planning commissions shall be predicated upon meeting performance goals and targets pursuant to the terms of the performance contract.

    (2) Disbursement to municipalities shall be awarded annually on or before December 31 through a competitive program administered by the Department providing the opportunity for any eligible municipality or municipalities to compete regardless of size, provided that to receive funds, a municipality:

    (A) shall be confirmed under section 4350 of this title; or

    (B)(i) shall use the funds for the purpose of developing a municipal plan to be submitted for approval by the regional planning commission, as required for municipal confirmation under section 4350 of this title; and

    (ii) shall have voted at an annual or special meeting to provide local funds for municipal and regional planning purposes.

    (3) [Repealed.]

    (c) Funds allocated to municipalities shall be used for the purposes of:

    (1) funding the regional planning commission in undertaking capacity studies;

    (2) carrying out the provisions of subchapters 5 through 10 of this chapter; and

    (3) acquiring development rights, conservation easements, or title to those lands, areas, and strictures identified in either regional or municipal plans as requiring special consideration for provision of needed housing, aquifer protection, open space, farmland preservation, or other conservation purposes. (Added 1987, No. 200 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; amended 1997, No. 156 (Adj. Sess.), § 41; 1999, No. 1, § 97b, eff. March 31, 1999; 1999, No. 49, § 80; 1999, No. 62, § 263; 1999, No. 152 (Adj. Sess.), § 271d; 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 84; 2003, No. 164 (Adj. Sess.), § 14, eff. June 12, 2004; 2005, No. 178 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 9, 13; 2009, No. 146 (Adj. Sess.), § G4; 2015, No. 11, § 29.)


  • Subchapter 002: MUNICIPAL PLANNING COMMISSIONS
  • § 4321. Creation of planning commissions

    (a) A planning commission may be created at any time by the act of the legislative body of a municipality.

    (b) In any urban municipality, the legislative body may create a planning department headed by a planning director as a substitute for a planning commission, and, in that event all of the powers and duties of planning commissions set forth herein shall be exercised by such planning director, subject to such regulations as that executive body shall from time to time specify, and sections 4322 and 4323 of this title shall not apply to such director. In such event, that legislative body may further create an advisory planning council, which shall only function in an advisory capacity to the planning director in the exercise of his or her powers and duties, and shall have such other functions as that legislative body shall, by resolution, assign to such council. (Added 1967, No. 334 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. March 23, 1968.)

  • § 4322. Planning commission; membership

    A planning commission shall have not less than three nor more than nine voting members. All members may be compensated and reimbursed by the municipality for necessary and reasonable expenses. At least a majority of the members of a planning commission shall be residents of the municipality. The selectmen of a rural town, or not more than two elected or appointed officials of an urban municipality who are chosen by the legislative body of the urban municipality, shall be nonvoting ex officio members of a planning commission. If a municipality has an energy coordinator under subchapter 12 of chapter 33 of this title, the energy coordinator may be a nonvoting ex officio member of the planning commission. (Added 1967, No. 334 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. March 23, 1968; amended 1969, No. 116, § 3; 1973, No. 261 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. July 1, 1974; 1979, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 3.)

  • § 4323. Appointment, term and vacancy; rules

    (a) Members of a planning commission shall be appointed and any vacancy filled by the legislative body of a municipality. The length of the term of planning commission members shall be determined by the legislative body of a municipality. Any member may be removed at any time by unanimous vote of the legislative body. Any appointment to fill a vacancy shall be for the unexpired term.

    (b) A planning commission shall elect a chair and a clerk, and at its organization meeting, shall adopt by majority vote of those members present and voting such other rules as it deems necessary and appropriate for the performance of its functions. A planning commission shall keep a record of its resolutions and transactions, which shall be maintained as a public record of the municipality.

    (c) As an alternative to appointment under subsection (a) of this section, municipalities may choose to elect planning commissioners for terms of one to four years. The proposal to elect and the length of terms to be filled shall be determined pursuant to a duly warned article at an annual or special meeting of the municipality. If a municipality chooses to elect planning commissioners:

    (1) The length and spacing of terms shall be decided by vote of the municipality.

    (2) Elections shall occur only as terms are completed, or as vacancies occur, or as new planning commissions are created.

    (3) Vacancies may be filled by appointment of the legislative body only until the next meeting of the municipality, at which time the voters shall elect a commissioner to fill the unexpired term.

    (4) Elected commissioners may not be removed by action of the legislative body. (Added 1967, No. 334 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. March 23, 1968; 1989, No. 280 (Adj. Sess.), § 3a; 2003, No. 103 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

  • § 4324. Existing commissions

    The members of any existing planning commission or body having similar powers and functions established under former laws shall continue in office until the end of their term as so established. New members shall be appointed and vacancies filled only under this chapter. Such commissions shall have, on March 23, 1968, all of the powers and duties of a planning commission created under this chapter. (Added 1967, No. 334 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. March 23, 1968.)

  • § 4325. Powers and duties of planning commissions

    Any planning commission created under this chapter may:

    (1) Prepare a plan and amendments thereof for consideration by the legislative body and to review any amendments thereof initiated by others as set forth in subchapter 5 of this chapter;

    (2) Prepare and present to the legislative body proposed bylaws and make recommendations to the legislative body on proposed amendments to such bylaws as set forth in subchapter 6 of this chapter;

    (3) Administer bylaws adopted under this chapter, except to the extent that those functions are performed by a development review board;

    (4) Undertake capacity studies and make recommendations on matters of land development, urban renewal, transportation, economic and social development, urban beautification and design improvements, historic and scenic preservation, the conservation of energy and the development of renewable energy resources and wetland protection. Data gathered by the planning commission that is relevant to the geographic information system established under 3 V.S.A. § 20 shall be compatible with, useful to, and shared with that system;

    (5) Prepare and present to the legislative body recommended building, plumbing, fire, electrical, housing, and related codes and enforcement procedures, and construction specifications for streets and related public improvements;

    (6) Prepare and present a recommended capital budget and program for a period of five years, as set forth in section 4440 of this title, for action by the legislative body, as set forth under section 4443 of this title;

    (7) Hold public meetings;

    (8) Require from other departments and agencies of the municipality such available information as relates to the work of the planning commission;

    (9) In the performance of its functions, enter upon land to make examinations and surveys;

    (10) Participate in a regional planning program;

    (11) Retain staff and consultant assistance in carrying out its duties and powers;

    (12) Undertake comprehensive planning, including related preliminary planning and engineering studies;

    (13) Perform such other acts or functions as it may deem necessary or appropriate to fulfill the duties and obligations imposed by, and the intent and purposes of, this chapter. (Added 1967, No. 334 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. March 23, 1968; amended 1979, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; 1985, No. 188 (Adj. Sess.), § 7; 1987, No. 200 (Adj. Sess.), § 18, eff. July 1, 1989; 1993, No. 232 (Adj. Sess.), § 45, eff. March 15, 1995; 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 85.)

  • § 4326. Appropriations, reports and records

    Every municipality may appropriate to and expend funds for its planning commission. The planning commission shall keep a record of its business and shall make an annual report to the municipality. A planning commission may accept and utilize any funds, personal or other assistance made available by this state or federal government or any of their agencies or from private sources. (Added 1967, No. 334 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. March 23, 1968.)

  • § 4327. Joint planning commissions

    (a) Any planning commission of a municipality which is a town having one or more municipalities contained within its area or which is one of such contained municipalities shall, upon the act of the legislative body of each municipality, be the planning commission under this chapter for such town and all such contained municipalities.

    (b) A planning commission acting for more than one municipality shall be the planning commission for such town and all such contained municipalities until such joint arrangement is terminated by the act of the legislative body of any participating municipality.

    (c) In any town containing one or more villages, any act required under this chapter to be taken by a legislative body or by the vote of a municipality shall be taken by the legislative body of the town or as the case may be the voters of the town including the voters of any contained village.

    (d) If a contained village adopts its own plan, capital budget or program or one or more bylaws, then any act required under this chapter for the adoption shall be taken by the legislative body or voters of the village. Nevertheless, the voters of the village shall remain as voters in the town for the adoption of town bylaws and capital budget and program, as provided in subsection (c) of this section.

    (e) A single planning commission, appointed by the board of governors of the unified towns and gores of Essex County, namely Averill, Avery's Gore, Ferdinand, Lewis, Warner's Grant, and Warren's Gore, shall serve as the planning commission for these towns and gores. (Added 1967, No. 334 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. March 23, 1968; amended 1973, No. 188 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. July 1, 1974; 1973, No. 261 (Adj. Sess.),§§ 3, 7 eff. July 1, 1974; 1975, No. 164 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; 2005, No. 30, § 1; 2005, No. 105 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

  • § 4328. Terms of office inconsistent with charter provisions

    When a charter of a municipality exists having terms respecting the appointment and authority of municipal officials, relating to their activities under this chapter, which terms are inconsistent with this chapter, those terms of that charter shall prevail. (Added 1967, No. 334 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. March 23, 1968; amended 1969, No. 116, § 4.)


  • Subchapter 003: REGIONAL PLANNING COMMISSIONS
  • § 4341. Creation of regional planning commissions

    (a) A regional planning commission may be created at any time by the act of the voters or the legislative body of each of a number of contiguous municipalities, upon the written approval of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. Approval of a designated region shall be based on whether the municipalities involved constitute a logical geographic and a coherent socioeconomic planning area. All municipalities within a designated region shall be considered members of the regional planning commission. For the purpose of a regional planning commission's carrying out its duties and functions under State law, such a designated region shall be considered a political subdivision of the State.

    (b) Two or more existing regional planning commissions may be merged to form a single commission by act of the legislative bodies in a majority of the municipalities in each of the merging regions.

    (c) A municipality may move from one regional planning commission to another regional planning commission on terms and conditions approved by the Secretary of Commerce and Community Development. (Added 1967, No. 334 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. March 23, 1968; amended 1971, No. 257 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. April 11, 1972; 1981, No. 132 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; 1987, No. 200 (Adj. Sess.), § 19, eff. July 1, 1989; 1995, No. 190 (Adj. Sess.), § 1(a); 2009, No. 146 (Adj. Sess.), § G5, eff. June 1, 2010; 2009, No. 156 (Adj. Sess.), § F.11, eff. June 3, 2010; 2013, No. 36, § 3.)

  • § 4341a. Performance grants for regional planning service

    (a) The Secretary of Commerce and Community Development shall negotiate and issue performance grants to regional planning commissions, or to regional planning commissions and regional development corporations in the case of a joint grant, to provide regional planning services.

    (b) A performance grant shall address how the regional planning commission, or regional planning commission and regional development corporation jointly, will improve results and achieve savings compared with the current regional service delivery system, which may include:

    (1) a proposal without change in the makeup or change of the area served;

    (2) a joint proposal to provide different services pursuant to a grant to one or more regional service providers;

    (3) colocation with other local, regional, or State service providers;

    (4) merger with one or more regional service providers;

    (5) consolidation of administrative functions and additional operational efficiencies within the region; or

    (6) such other cost-saving mechanisms as may be available. (Added 2009, No. 146 (Adj. Sess.), § G5, eff. June 1, 2010; amended 2015, No. 11, § 30; 2015, No. 157 (Adj. Sess.), § C.2, eff. July 1, 2017.)

  • § 4342. Regional planning commissions; membership

    A regional planning commission shall contain at least one representative appointed from each member municipality. All representatives may be compensated and reimbursed by their respective municipalities for necessary and reasonable expenses. (Added 1967, No. 334 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. March 23, 1968; amended 1971, No. 257 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. April 11, 1972; 1977, No. 158 (Adj. Sess.).)

  • § 4343. Appointment, term and vacancy; rules

    (a) Representatives to a regional planning commission representing each participating municipality shall be appointed for a term and any vacancy filled by the legislative body of such municipality in the manner provided and for the terms established by the charter and bylaws of the regional planning commission. Regardless of regional planning commission bylaws, representatives to the commission shall serve at the pleasure of the legislative body. The legislative body may, by majority vote of the entire body, revoke a commission member's appointment at any time.

    (b) A regional planning commission may elect an executive board, consisting of not less than five nor more than nine members, to oversee the operations of the commission and implement the policies of the commission, and shall elect a chair, and a secretary, and, at its organization meeting shall adopt, by a two-thirds vote of those representatives present and voting at such meeting, such rules and create and fill such other offices as it deems necessary or appropriate for the performance of its functions, including the number and qualification of members, terms of office, and provisions for municipal representation and voting.

    (c) A regional planning commission may also have such other members, who may be elected or appointed in such manner as the regional planning commission may prescribe by its rules adopted pursuant to this section. (Added 1967, No. 334 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. March 23, 1968; amended 1981, No. 132 (Adj. Sess.), § 5, eff. July 1, 1982; 1989, No. 280 (Adj. Sess.), § 3b; 2009, No. 146 (Adj. Sess.), § G5, eff. June 1, 2010.)

  • § 4344. Repealed. 2009, No. 146 (Adj. Sess.), § G5.

  • § 4345. Optional powers and duties of regional planning commissions

    Any regional planning commission created under this chapter may:

    (1) Develop an inventory of the region's fire and safety facilities; hospitals, rest homes, or other facilities for aging or disabled persons; correctional facilities; and emergency shelters; and work with regulated utilities, the Department of Public Service, the Department of Public Safety, potential developers of distributed power facilities, adjoining regional planning commissions, interested adjoining regional entities from adjoining states, and citizens of the region to propose and evaluate alternative sites for distributed power facilities that might provide uninterrupted local or regional power at least for identified critical service providers in time of extended national, statewide, or regional power disruption or other emergency.

    (2)-(5) [Repealed.]

    (6) Undertake studies and make recommendations on land development, urban renewal, transportation, economic, industrial, commercial, and social development, urban beautification and design improvements, historic and scenic preservation, State capital investment plans, and wetland protection.

    (7) [Repealed.]

    (8) Require of each municipality in its area and all State agencies such available information as relates to the work of the regional planning commission.

    (9) In the performance of its functions, enter upon land, with prior approval of the landowner, to make examinations and surveys.

    (10) Retain staff and consultant assistance in carrying out its duties and powers, and contract with one or more persons to provide administrative, clerical, information technology, human resources, or related functions.

    (11) Undertake comprehensive planning, including related preliminary planning, State capital investment plans, and engineering studies.

    (12) Carry out, with the cooperation of municipalities within the region, economic development programs for the appropriate development, improvement, protection, and preservation of the region's physical and human resources.

    (13) Provide planning, training, and development services to local and regional communities and assist communities in evaluating economic conditions and prepare for economic growth and stability.

    (14) Gather economic and demographic information concerning the area served.

    (15) Assist existing business and industry, encourage the development and growth of small business, and to attract industry and commerce.

    (16) Include in its charter and bylaws adopted pursuant to section 4343 of this chapter the power to:

    (A) Acquire and dispose of a fee simple or lesser interest in real property through purchase, lease, grant, gift, bequest, or devise for the purpose of fulfilling its duties pursuant to this section and section 4345a of this title.

    (B) Borrow money and incur indebtedness for the purposes of purchasing or leasing property for office space, establish and administer a revolving loan fund, or establish a line of credit, if approved by a two-thirds vote of those representatives to the regional planning commission present and voting at a meeting to approve such action. Any obligation incurred under this subdivision (B):

    (i) shall not encumber the grand list or any property of a member municipality; and

    (ii) in the case of a purchase, shall pledge the property to be purchased as collateral and shall not exceed the fair market value of such property.

    (C) At the request of one or more member municipalities, act as an escrow agent and hold funds related to a municipal capital project or a project subject to a municipal land use permit in an escrow account, including taxes to be paid by the project, fines, and developer fees. Funds so held shall be segregated in a special account for each project on the books of the regional planning commission and, within each project account, by municipality. However, this subdivision (C) shall not confer authority on a regional planning commission to hold tax increment revenues received from a tax increment financing district under chapter 53, subchapter 5 of this title.

    (D) Enter into contracts with public and private entities, including the State of Vermont and the federal government to provide regional planning services and fulfill its duties pursuant to this section and section 4345a of this title.

    (17) Perform such other acts or functions as it may deem necessary or appropriate to fulfill the duties and obligations imposed by, and the intent and purposes of, this chapter. (Added 1967, No. 334 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. March 23, 1968; amended 1971, No. 257 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. April 11, 1972; 1979, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 5; 1981, No. 132 (Adj. Sess.), § 6; 1985, No. 188 (Adj. Sess.), § 8; 1987, No. 200 (Adj. Sess.), § 20, eff. July 1, 1989; 1989, No. 280 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; 2005, No. 208 (Adj. Sess.), § 9; 2009, No. 146 (Adj. Sess.), § G5; 2011, No. 104 (Adj. Sess.), § 30, eff. May 7, 2012; 2013, No. 36, § 1; 2015, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 3.)

  • § 4345a. Duties of regional planning commissions

    A regional planning commission created under this chapter shall:

    (1) Promote the mutual cooperation of its municipalities and assist and advise municipalities, compacts, and authorities within the region to facilitate economic development programs for the appropriate development, improvement, protection, and preservation of the region's physical and human resources.

    (2) Advise municipal governing bodies with respect to public financing.

    (3) Provide technical and legal assistance to municipalities in the preparation and maintenance of plans, capacity studies, and bylaws and in related implementation activities.

    (4) Cooperate with the planning, legislative, or executive authorities of neighboring states, regions, counties, or municipalities to promote coordination of planning for, conservation and development of the region and adjoining or neighboring territory.

    (5) Prepare a regional plan and amendments that are consistent with the goals established in section 4302 of this title, and compatible with approved municipal and adjoining regional plans. When preparing a regional plan, the regional planning commission shall:

    (A) develop and carry out a process that will encourage and enable widespread citizen involvement;

    (B) develop a regional data base that is compatible with, useful to, and shared with the geographic information system established under 3 V.S.A. § 20;

    (C) conduct capacity studies;

    (D) identify areas of regional significance. Such areas may be, but are not limited to, historic sites, earth resources, rare and irreplaceable natural areas, recreation areas and scenic areas;

    (E) use a land evaluation and site assessment system, that shall at a minimum use the criteria established by the Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets under 6 V.S.A. § 8, to identify viable agricultural lands;

    (F) consider the probable social and economic benefits and consequences of the proposed plan; and

    (G) prepare a report explaining how the regional plan is consistent with the goals established in section 4302 of this title.

    (6) Prepare implementation guidelines that will assist municipalities and the regional commission in developing a planning process that will attain, within a reasonable time, consistency with the goals established in section 4302 of this title. Guidelines, which may be revised at any time, shall be prepared initially by July 1, 1989.

    (7) Prepare, in conjunction with the Commissioner of Housing and Community Development, guidelines for the provision of affordable housing in the region, share information developed with respect to affordable housing with the municipalities in the region and with the Commissioner of Housing and Community Development, and consult with the Commissioner when developing the housing element of the regional plan.

    (8) Confirm municipal planning efforts, where warranted, as required under section 4350 of this title and provide town clerks of the region with notice of confirmation.

    (9) At least every eight years, review the compatibility of municipal plans, and if the regional planning commission finds that growth in a municipality without an approved plan is adversely affecting an adjoining municipality, it shall notify the legislative body of both municipalities of that fact and shall urge that the municipal planning be undertaken to mitigate those adverse effects. If, within six months of receipt of this notice, the municipality creating the adverse effects does not have an approved municipal plan, the regional commission shall adopt appropriate amendments to the regional plan as it may deem appropriate to mitigate those adverse effects.

    (10) Develop strategies specifically designed to assist municipalities in defining and managing growth and development that have cumulative impacts.

    (11) Review proposed State capital expenditures for compatibility with regional plans.

    (12) Assist municipalities to review proposed State capital expenditures for compatibility with municipal plans.

    (13) Appear before District Environmental Commissions to aid them in making a determination as to the conformance of developments and subdivisions with the criteria of 10 V.S.A. § 6086.

    (14) With respect to proceedings under 30 V.S.A. § 248:

    (A) have the right to appear and participate; and

    (B) appear before the Public Utility Commission to aid in making determinations under that statute when requested by the Commission.

    (15) Hold public hearings.

    (16) Before requesting the services of a mediator with respect to a conflict that has arisen between adopted or proposed plans of two or more regions or two or more municipalities located in different regions, appoint a joint interregional commission, in cooperation with other affected regional commissions for the purpose of negotiating differences.

    (17) As part of its regional plan, define a substantial regional impact, as the term may be used with respect to its region. This definition shall be given due consideration, where relevant, in State regulatory proceedings.

    (18) If a municipality requests the assistance of the regional planning commission in coordinating the way that its plan addresses projects of substantial regional impact with the way those projects are addressed by its neighbors' planning efforts, the regional planning commission shall convene an ad hoc working group to address the issue. The working group shall be composed of representatives of all municipalities likely to be affected by the plan in question, regardless of whether or not they belong to the same region. With the assistance of a facilitator provided by the regional planning commission, the ad hoc working group will attempt to develop a proposed consensus with respect to projects of substantial regional impact. If a proposed consensus is developed, the results of the consensus will be reported to the planning commissions and legislative bodies represented.

    (19) Undertake studies and make recommendations on the conservation of energy and the development of renewable energy resources. (Added 1987, No. 200 (Adj. Sess.), § 21, eff. July 1, 1989; amended 1989, No. 280 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; 2003, No. 42, § 2, eff. May 27, 2003; 2009, No. 146 (Adj. Sess.), § G5; 2015, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 4.)

  • § 4345b. Intermunicipal service agreements

    (a)(1) Prior to exercising the authority granted under this section, a regional planning commission shall:

    (A) draft bylaws specifying the process for entering into, method of withdrawal from, and method of terminating service agreements with municipalities; and

    (B) hold one or more public hearings within the region to hear from interested parties and citizens regarding the draft bylaws.

    (2) At least 30 days prior to any hearing required under this subsection, notice of the time and place and a copy of the draft bylaws, with a request for comments, shall be delivered to the chair of the legislative body of each municipality within the region. The regional planning commission shall make copies available to any individual or organization requesting a copy.

    (3) The regional planning commission may make revisions to the draft bylaws at any time prior to adoption of the bylaws. If revisions are made to the draft bylaws, the regional planning commission shall hold a final hearing and shall deliver notice as required in subdivision (2) of this subsection.

    (b)(1) The draft bylaws required under subsection (a) of this section shall be adopted by a vote of at least 67 percent of the commissioners of the regional planning commission in accordance with the voting procedures of the regional planning commission.

    (2) The draft bylaws shall be considered duly adopted and shall take effect 35 days after a vote required under this subsection, unless, within 35 days of the date of adoption, the regional planning commission receives certification from the legislative bodies of a majority of the municipalities in the region vetoing the proposed bylaws. In such case, the bylaws shall be deemed repealed.

    (c) Upon adoption of the bylaws under subsection (b) of this section, a regional planning commission may:

    (1) promote cooperative arrangements and coordinate, implement, and administer service agreements among municipalities, including arrangements and action with respect to planning, community development, joint purchasing, intermunicipal services, infrastructure, and related activities; and

    (2) exercise any power, privilege, or authority, as defined within a service agreement under subsection (d) of this section, capable of exercise by a municipality as necessary or desirable for dealing with problems of local or regional concern.

    (d)(1) In exercising the powers set forth in subsection (c) of this section, a regional planning commission shall enter into a service agreement with one or more municipalities.

    (2) Participation by a municipality shall be voluntary and only valid upon appropriate action by the legislative body of the municipality. To become effective, a service agreement shall be ratified by the regional planning commission and the legislative bodies of the municipalities who are a party to the service agreement.

    (3) A service agreement shall describe the services to be provided and the amount of funds payable by each municipality that is a party to the service agreement. Service of personnel, use of equipment and office space, and other necessary services may be accepted from municipalities as part of their financial support.

    (4) Any modification to a service agreement shall not become effective unless approved by the legislative body of the municipalities who are a party to the service agreement.

    (e) A regional planning commission shall not have the following powers under this section:

    (1) essential legislative functions;

    (2) taxing authority; or

    (3) eminent domain.

    (f)(1) Funds provided for regional planning under section 4341a or 4346 of this chapter shall not be used to provide services under a service agreement without prior written authorization from the State agency or other entity providing the funds.

    (2) A commission shall not use municipal funds or grants provided for regional planning services under this chapter to cover the costs of providing services under any service agreement under this section. (Added 2015, No. 89 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

  • § 4346. Appropriations

    Regional planning commissions may apply for, receive, and expend monies from any source, public or private, including grants, loans, and funds made available by the participating municipalities, and by an agency or department of the State of Vermont, out of State funds appropriated to that agency or department for this purpose. Notwithstanding the provisions of any municipal charter, any municipality may appropriate and expend funds to and for regional planning commissions either by the authorization of its voters or by incorporating such amount as a line item in their administrative budget. (Added 1967, No. 334 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. March 23, 1968; amended 1971, No. 257 (Adj. Sess.), § 4, eff. April 11, 1972; 1995, No. 190 (Adj. Sess.), § 1(a); 2009, No. 146 (Adj. Sess.), § G5, eff. June 1, 2010; 2013, No. 36, § 2.)

  • § 4347. Purposes of regional plan

    A regional plan shall be made with the general purpose of guiding and accomplishing a coordinated, efficient and economic development of the region which will, in accordance with the present and future needs and resources, best promote the health, safety, order, convenience, prosperity and welfare of the inhabitants as well as efficiency and economy in the process of development. This general purpose includes, but is not limited to recommending a distribution of population and of the uses of the land for urbanization, trade, industry, habitation, recreation, agriculture, forestry and other uses as will tend to:

    (1) create conditions favorable to transportation, health, safety, civic activities and educational and cultural opportunities;

    (2) reduce the wastes of financial, energy and human resources which result from either excessive congestion or excessive scattering of population;

    (3) promote an efficient and economic utilization of drainage, energy, sanitary and other facilities and resources;

    (4) promote the conservation of the supply of food, water, energy and minerals;

    (5) promote the production of food and fiber resources and the reasonable use of mineral, water, and renewable energy resources; and

    (6) promote the development of housing suitable to the needs of the region and its communities. (Added 1967, No. 334 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. March 23, 1968; amended 1979, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 6; 1987, No. 200 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 22, 23, eff. July 1, 1989.)

  • § 4348. Adoption and amendment of regional plan

    (a) A regional planning commission shall adopt a regional plan. Any plan for a region, and any amendment thereof, shall be prepared by the regional planning commission. At the outset of the planning process and throughout the process, regional planning commissions shall solicit the participation of local citizens and organizations by holding informal working sessions that suit the needs of local people.

    (b) The regional planning commission shall hold two or more public hearings within the region after public notice on any proposed plan or amendment. The minimum number of required public hearings may be specified within the bylaws of the regional planning commission.

    (c) At least 30 days prior to the first hearing, a copy of the proposed plan or amendment, with a request for general comments and for specific comments with respect to the extent to which the plan or amendment is consistent with the goals established in section 4302 of this title, shall be delivered with proof of receipt, or sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, to each of the following:

    (1) the chair of the legislative body of each municipality within the region;

    (2) the executive director of each abutting regional planning commission;

    (3) the Department of Housing and Community Development within the Agency of Commerce and Community Development;

    (4) business, conservation, low-income advocacy, and other community or interest groups or organizations that have requested notice in writing prior to the date the hearing is warned; and

    (5) the Agency of Natural Resources and the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets.

    (d) Any of the foregoing bodies, or their representatives, may submit comments on the proposed regional plan or amendment to the regional planning commission, and may appear and be heard in any proceeding with respect to the adoption of the proposed plan or amendment.

    (e) The regional planning commission may make revisions to the proposed plan or amendment at any time not less than 30 days prior to the final public hearing held under this section. If the proposal is changed, a copy of the proposed change shall be delivered, with proof of receipt or by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the chairperson of the legislative body of each municipality within the region, and to any individual or organization requesting a copy, at least 30 days prior to the final hearing.

    (f) A regional plan or amendment shall be adopted by not less than a 60 percent vote of the commissioners representing municipalities, in accordance with the bylaws of the regional planning commission, and immediately submitted to the legislative bodies of the municipalities that comprise the region. The plan or amendment shall be considered duly adopted and shall take effect 35 days after the date of adoption, unless, within 35 days of the date of adoption, the regional planning commission receives certification from the legislative bodies of a majority of the municipalities in the region vetoing the proposed plan or amendment. In case of such a veto, the plan or amendment shall be deemed rejected.

    (g) Regional plans may be reviewed from time to time and may be amended in the light of new developments and changed conditions affecting the region.

    (h) In proceedings under 10 V.S.A. chapter 151, 10 V.S.A. chapter 159, and 30 V.S.A. § 248, in which the provisions of a regional plan or a municipal plan are relevant to the determination of any issue in those proceedings:

    (1) the provisions of the regional plan shall be given effect to the extent that they are not in conflict with the provisions of a duly adopted municipal plan;

    (2) to the extent that such a conflict exists, the regional plan shall be given effect if it is demonstrated that the project under consideration in the proceedings would have a substantial regional impact.

    (i) [Repealed.]  (Added 1967, No. 334 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. March 23, 1968; amended 1971, No. 257 (Adj. Sess.), § 5, eff. April 11, 1972; 1979, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 7; 1981, No. 132 (Adj. Sess.), § 7; 1987, No. 200 (Adj. Sess.), § 24, eff. July 1, 1989; 1989, No. 280 (Adj. Sess.), § 4a; 1989, No. 286 (Adj. Sess.), § 11, eff. June 22, 1990; 1995, No. 190 (Adj. Sess.), § 1(a); 2009, No. 146 (Adj. Sess.), § G5, eff. June 1, 2010; 2015, No. 64, § 28.)

  • § 4348a. Elements of a regional plan

    (a) A regional plan shall be consistent with the goals established in section 4302 of this title and shall include the following:

    (1) A statement of basic policies of the region to guide the future growth and development of land and of public services and facilities, and to protect the environment.

    [Subdivision (a)(2) effective until January 1, 2018; see also subdivision (a)(2) effective January 1, 2018 set out below.]

    (2) A land use element, which shall consist of a map and statement of present and prospective land uses:

    (A) indicating those areas proposed for forests, recreation, agriculture (using the agricultural lands identification process established in 6 V.S.A. § 8), residence, commerce, industry, public, and semi-public uses, open spaces, and areas identified by the State, regional planning commissions or municipalities, which require special consideration for aquifer protection, wetland protection, or for other conservation purposes;

    (B) indicating those areas within the region that are likely candidates for designation under sections 2793 (downtown development districts), 2793a (village centers), 2793b (new town centers), and 2793c (growth centers) of this title;

    (C) indicating locations proposed for developments with a potential for regional impact, as determined by the regional planning commission, including flood control projects, surface water supply projects, industrial parks, office parks, shopping centers and shopping malls, airports, tourist attractions, recreational facilities, private schools, public or private colleges, and residential developments or subdivisions;

    (D) setting forth the present and prospective location, amount, intensity, and character of such land uses and the appropriate timing or sequence of land development activities in relation to the provision of necessary community facilities and services;

    (E) indicating those areas that have the potential to sustain agriculture and recommendations for maintaining them which may include transfer of development rights, acquisition of development rights, or farmer assistance programs.

    [Subdivision (a)(2) effective January 1, 2018; see also subdivision (a)(2) effective until January 1, 2018 set out above.]

    (2) A land use element, which shall consist of a map and statement of present and prospective land uses, that:

    (A) Indicates those areas proposed for forests, recreation, agriculture (using the agricultural lands identification process established in 6 V.S.A. § 8), residence, commerce, industry, public, and semi-public uses, open spaces, areas reserved for flood plain, and areas identified by the State, regional planning commissions, or municipalities that require special consideration for aquifer protection; for wetland protection; for the maintenance of forest blocks, wildlife habitat, and habitat connectors; or for other conservation purposes.

    (B) Indicates those areas within the region that are likely candidates for designation under sections 2793 (downtown development districts), 2793a (village centers), 2793b (new town centers), and 2793c (growth centers) of this title.

    (C) Indicates locations proposed for developments with a potential for regional impact, as determined by the regional planning commission, including flood control projects, surface water supply projects, industrial parks, office parks, shopping centers and shopping malls, airports, tourist attractions, recreational facilities, private schools, public or private colleges, and residential developments or subdivisions.

    (D) Sets forth the present and prospective location, amount, intensity, and character of such land uses and the appropriate timing or sequence of land development activities in relation to the provision of necessary community facilities and services.

    (E) Indicates those areas that have the potential to sustain agriculture and recommendations for maintaining them which may include transfer of development rights, acquisition of development rights, or farmer assistance programs.

    (F) Indicates those areas that are important as forest blocks and habitat connectors and plans for land development in those areas to minimize forest fragmentation and promote the health, viability, and ecological function of forests. A plan may include specific policies to encourage the active management of those areas for wildlife habitat, water quality, timber production, recreation, or other values or functions identified by the regional planning commission.

    (3) An energy element, which may include an analysis of resources, needs, scarcities, costs, and problems within the region across all energy sectors, including electric, thermal, and transportation; a statement of policy on the conservation and efficient use of energy and the development and siting of renewable energy resources; a statement of policy on patterns and densities of land use likely to result in conservation of energy; and an identification of potential areas for the development and siting of renewable energy resources and areas that are unsuitable for siting those resources or particular categories or sizes of those resources.

    (4) A transportation element, which may consist of a statement of present and prospective transportation and circulation facilities, and a map showing existing and proposed highways, including limited access highways, and streets by type and character of improvement, and where pertinent, anticipated points of congestion, parking facilities, transit routes, terminals, bicycle paths and trails, scenic roads, airports, railroads and port facilities, and other similar facilities or uses, and recommendations to meet future needs for such facilities, with indications of priorities of need, costs, and method of financing.

    (5) A utility and facility element, consisting of a map and statement of present and prospective local and regional community facilities and public utilities, whether publicly or privately owned, showing existing and proposed educational, recreational and other public sites, buildings and facilities, including public schools, State office buildings, hospitals, libraries, power generating plants and transmission lines, wireless telecommunications facilities and ancillary improvements, water supply, sewage disposal, refuse disposal, storm drainage, and other similar facilities and activities, and recommendations to meet future needs for those facilities, with indications of priority of need.

    (6) A statement of policies on the:

    (A) preservation of rare and irreplaceable natural areas, scenic and historic features and resources; and

    (B) protection and improvement of the quality of waters of the State to be used in the development and furtherance of the applicable basin plans established by the Secretary of Natural Resources under 10 V.S.A. § 1253.

    (7) A program for the implementation of the regional plan's objectives, including a recommended investment strategy for regional facilities and services based on a capacity study of the elements in this section.

    (8) A statement indicating how the regional plan relates to development trends, needs, and plans and regional plans for adjacent municipalities and regions.

    (9) A housing element that identifies the need for housing for all economic groups in the region and communities. In establishing the identified need, due consideration shall be given to data gathered pursuant to subsection 4382(c) of this title. If no such data has been gathered, the regional planning commission shall gather it.

    (10) An economic development element that describes present economic conditions and the location, type, and scale of desired economic development, and identifies policies, projects, and programs necessary to foster economic growth.

    (11)(A) A flood resilience element that:

    (i) identifies flood hazard and fluvial erosion hazard areas, based on river corridor maps provided by the Secretary of Natural Resources pursuant to 10 V.S.A. § 1428(a) or maps recommended by the Secretary, and designates those areas to be protected, including floodplains, river corridors, land adjacent to streams, wetlands, and upland forests, to reduce the risk of flood damage to infrastructure and improved property; and

    (ii) recommends policies and strategies to protect the areas identified and designated under this subdivision (A) and to mitigate risks to public safety, critical infrastructure, historic structures, and public investments.

    (B) A flood resilience element may reference an existing regional hazard mitigation plan approved under 44 C.F.R. § 201.6.

    (b) The various elements and statements shall be correlated with the land use element and with each other. The maps called for by this section may be incorporated on one or more maps, and may be referred to in each separate statement called for by this section. (Added 1981, No. 132 (Adj. Sess.), § 7; amended 1985, No. 188 (Adj. Sess.), § 9; 1987, No. 200 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 26, 27, eff. July 1, 1989; 1997, No. 94 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. April 15, 1998; 2011, No. 52, § 32, eff. July 1, 2012; 2013, No. 16, § 3, eff. July 1, 2014; 2013, No. 146 (Adj. Sess.), § 7, eff. May 27, 2014; 2015, No. 64, § 29; 2015, No. 171 (Adj. Sess.), § 16, eff. Jan. 1, 2018; 2015, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 5.)

  • § 4348b. Readoption of regional plans

    (a) Unless they are readopted, all regional plans, including all prior amendments, shall expire every eight years.

    (b)(1) A regional plan that has expired or is about to expire may be readopted as provided under section 4348 of this title for the adoption of a regional plan or amendment. Prior to any readoption, the regional planning commission shall prepare an assessment report which shall be submitted to the Agency of Commerce and Community Development and the municipalities within the region. The assessment report may include:

    (A) the extent to which the plan has been implemented since adoption or readoption;

    (B) an evaluation of the goals and policies and any amendments necessary due to changing conditions of the region;

    (C) an evaluation of the land use element and any amendments necessary to reflect changes in land use within the region or changes to regional goals and policies;

    (D) priorities for implementation in the next five years; and

    (E) updates to information and data necessary to support goals and policies.

    (2) The readopted plan shall remain in effect for the ensuing eight years unless earlier readopted.

    (c) Upon the expiration of a regional plan under this section, the regional plan shall be of no further effect in any other proceeding.

    (d) All regional plans that expire after July 1, 1991 shall be readopted to be consistent with planning goals and shall follow the review process referred to in No. 200 of the Acts of the 1987 Adj. Sess. (1988). (Added 1981, No. 132 (Adj. Sess.), § 8; amended 1987, No. 200 (Adj. Sess.), § 25, eff. July 1, 1989; 1989, No. 101, §§ 2, 3; 2009, No. 146 (Adj. Sess.), § G5, eff. June 1, 2010; 2011, No. 52, § 30, eff. July 1, 2012.)

  • § 4349. Regional plan; adoption by municipality

    (a) If a regional planning commission prepares and adopts a regional plan, the regional plan or a portion thereof may then be adopted by the legislative body of any member municipality as its plan in accordance with subchapter 5 of this chapter.

    (b) The legislative body of any municipality may designate the regional planning commission of a region of which such municipality is a member as the planning commission of such municipality, and, if so designated, the regional planning commission shall thereafter act as the planning commission of such municipality until a planning commission is created under section 4321 of this title or until such regional planning commission notifies such legislative body, in writing, that it no longer will so act. (Added 1967, No. 334 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. March 23, 1968.)

  • § 4350. Review and consultation regarding municipal planning effort

    (a) A regional planning commission shall consult with its municipalities with respect to the municipalities' planning efforts, ascertaining the municipalities' needs as individual municipalities and as neighbors in a region, and identifying the assistance that ought to be provided by the regional planning commission. As a part of this consultation, the regional planning commission, after public notice, shall review the planning process of its member municipalities at least twice during an eight-year period, or more frequently on request of the municipality, and shall so confirm when a municipality:

    (1) is engaged in a continuing planning process that, within a reasonable time, will result in a plan that is consistent with the goals contained in section 4302 of this title;

    (2) is engaged in a process to implement its municipal plan, consistent with the program for implementation required under section 4382 of this title; and

    (3) is maintaining its efforts to provide local funds for municipal and regional planning purposes.

    (b)(1) As part of the consultation process, the commission shall consider whether a municipality has adopted a plan. In order to obtain or retain confirmation of the planning process, a municipality must have an approved plan. A regional planning commission shall review and approve plans of its member municipalities, when approval is requested and warranted. Each review shall include a public hearing which is noticed at least 15 days in advance by posting in the office of the municipal clerk and at least one public place within the municipality and by publication in a newspaper or newspapers of general publication in the region affected. The commission shall approve a plan if it finds that the plan:

    (A) is consistent with the goals established in section 4302 of this title;

    (B) is compatible with its regional plan;

    (C) is compatible with approved plans of other municipalities in the region; and

    (D) contains all the elements included in subdivisions 4382(a)(1)-(12) of this title.

    (2) A commission shall give approval or disapproval to a municipal plan or amendment within two months of its receipt following a final hearing held pursuant to section 4385 of this title. The fact that the plan is approved after the deadline shall not invalidate the plan. If the commission disapproves the plan or amendment, it shall state its reasons in writing and, if appropriate, suggest acceptable modifications. Submissions for approval that follow a disapproval shall receive approval or disapproval within 45 days.

    (3) The commission shall file any adopted plan or amendment with the Department of Housing and Community Development within two weeks of receipt from the municipality. Failure on the part of the commission to file the plan shall not invalidate the plan.

    (c) In order to retain confirmation of the planning process, a municipality shall document that it has reviewed and is actively engaged in a process to implement its adopted plan.

    (1) When assessing whether a municipality has been actively engaged in a process to implement its adopted plan, the regional planning commission shall consider the activities of local boards and commissions with regard to the preparation or adoption of bylaws and amendments; capital budgets and programs; supplemental plans; or other actions, programs, or measures undertaken or scheduled to implement the adopted plan. The regional planning commission shall also consider factors that may have hindered or delayed municipal implementation efforts.

    (2) The consultation may include guidance by the regional planning commission with regard to resources and technical support available to the municipality to implement its adopted plan and recommendations by the regional planning commission for plan amendments and for updating the plan prior to readoption under section 4387 of this title.

    (d) During the period of time when a municipal planning process is confirmed:

    (1) The municipality's plan will not be subject to review by the Commissioner of Housing and Community Development under section 4351 of this title.

    (2) State agency plans adopted under 3 V.S.A. chapter 67 shall be compatible with the municipality's approved plan.

    (3) The municipality may levy impact fees on new development within its borders, according to the provisions of chapter 131 of this title.

    (4) The municipality shall be eligible to receive additional funds from the municipal and regional planning fund.

    (e) Confirmation and approval decisions under this section shall be made by majority vote of the commissioners representing municipalities, in accordance with the bylaws of the regional planning commission. (Added 1987, No. 200 (Adj. Sess.), § 15, eff. July 1, 1989; amended 1989, No. 101, § 4; 1989, No. 280 (Adj. Sess.), § 5; 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 87; 2009, No. 146 (Adj. Sess.), § G5, eff. June 1, 2010; 2015, No. 90 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

  • § 4351. Review by Commissioner of Housing and Community Development

    (a) The Commissioner of Housing and Community Development shall establish guidelines for the provision of affordable housing by municipalities with plans that have not been approved under this chapter. These guidelines shall be consistent with goals established in section 4302 of this title.

    (b) On a periodic basis, commencing in 1996, the Commissioner of Housing and Community Development, or a designee, shall review the planning process of municipalities that do not have approved plans, for compliance with the affordable housing criteria established under this section and shall issue a report to the municipality and to the regional planning commission. Each review shall include a public hearing which is noticed at least 15 days in advance by posting in the office of the municipal clerk and at least one public place within the municipality and by publication in a newspaper or newspapers of general publication in the region affected. (Added 1987, No. 200 (Adj. Sess.), § 15a, eff. July 1, 1989; amended 1989, No. 101, § 5; 1989, No. 280 (Adj. Sess.), § 6; 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 88; 2009, No. 146 (Adj. Sess.), § G5, eff. June 1, 2010.)

  • § 4352. Optional determination of energy compliance; enhanced energy planning

    (a) Regional plan. A regional planning commission may submit its adopted regional plan to the Commissioner of Public Service appointed under 30 V.S.A. § 1 for a determination of energy compliance. The Commissioner shall issue an affirmative determination on finding that the regional plan meets the requirements of subsection (c) of this section and allows for the siting in the region of all types of renewable generation technologies.

    (b) Municipal plan. If the Commissioner of Public Service has issued an affirmative determination of energy compliance for a regional plan that is in effect, a municipal legislative body within the region may submit its adopted municipal plan to the regional planning commission for issuance of a determination of energy compliance. The regional planning commission shall issue an affirmative determination, signed by the chair of the regional planning commission, on finding that the municipal plan meets the requirements of subsection (c) of this section and is consistent with the regional plan.

    (c) Enhanced energy planning; requirements. To obtain an affirmative determination of energy compliance under this section, a plan must:

    (1) in the case of a regional plan, include the energy element as described in subdivision 4348a(a)(3) of this title;

    (2) in the case of a municipal plan, include an energy element that has the same components as described in subdivision 4348a(a)(3) of this title for a regional plan and be confirmed under section 4350 of this title;

    (3) be consistent with the following, with consistency determined in the manner described under subdivision 4302(f)(1) of this title:

    (A) Vermont's greenhouse gas reduction goals under 10 V.S.A. § 578(a);

    (B) Vermont's 25 by 25 goal for renewable energy under 10 V.S.A. § 580;

    (C) Vermont's building efficiency goals under 10 V.S.A. § 581;

    (D) State energy policy under 30 V.S.A. § 202a and the recommendations for regional and municipal energy planning pertaining to the efficient use of energy and the siting and development of renewable energy resources contained in the State energy plans adopted pursuant to 30 V.S.A. §§ 202 and 202b (State energy plans); and

    (E) the distributed renewable generation and energy transformation categories of resources to meet the requirements of the Renewable Energy Standard under 30 V.S.A. §§ 8004 and 8005; and

    (4) meet the standards for issuing a determination of energy compliance included in the State energy plans.

    (d) State energy plans; recommendations; standards.

    (1) The State energy plans shall include the recommendations for regional and municipal energy planning and the standards for issuing a determination of energy compliance described in subdivision (c)(3) of this section.

    (2) The recommendations shall provide strategies and options for regional planning commissions and municipalities to employ in meeting the goals and policies contained in statutes listed in subdivision (c)(3) of this section.

    (3) The standards shall consist of a list of criteria for issuing a determination of energy compliance that ensure consistency with the goals and policies contained in the statutes listed in subdivision (c)(3) of this section and the recommendations developed pursuant to this subsection.

    (4) In developing standards and recommendations under this subsection, the Commissioner of Public Service shall consult with all persons identified under 30 V.S.A. § 202(d)(1); the Secretaries of Agriculture, Food and Markets, of Commerce and Community Development, of Natural Resources, and of Transportation; and other affected persons.

    (5) The Commissioner of Public Service shall provide the Commissioner of Housing and Community Development with a copy of the recommendations and standards developed under this subsection for inclusion in the planning and land use manual prepared pursuant to section 4304 of this title.

    (e) Process for issuing determinations of energy compliance. Review of whether to issue a determination of energy compliance under this section shall include a public hearing noticed at least 15 days in advance by direct mail to the requesting regional planning commission or municipal legislative body, posting on the website of the entity from which the determination is requested, and publication in a newspaper of general publication in the region or municipality affected. The Commissioner or regional planning commission shall issue the determination in writing within two months of the receipt of a request for a determination. If the determination is negative, the Commissioner or regional planning commission shall state the reasons for denial in writing and, if appropriate, suggest acceptable modifications. Submissions for a new determination that follow a negative determination shall receive a new determination within 45 days.

    (f) Appeal. A regional planning commission aggrieved by an act or decision of the Commissioner of Public Service under this section may appeal to the Natural Resources Board established under 10 V.S.A. chapter 151 within 30 days of the act or decision. The provisions of 10 V.S.A. § 6024 regarding assistance to the Board from other departments and agencies of the State shall apply to this subsection. The Board shall conduct a de novo hearing on the act or decision under appeal and shall proceed in accordance with the contested case requirements of the Vermont Administrative Procedure Act. The Board shall issue a final decision within 90 days of the filing of the appeal.

    (g) Municipality; determination from DPS; time-limited option. Until July 1, 2018, a municipality whose plan has been confirmed under section 4350 of this title may seek issuance of a determination of energy compliance from the Commissioner of Public Service if it is a member of a regional planning commission whose regional plan has not received such a determination.

    (1) The Commissioner shall issue an affirmative determination of energy compliance for the municipal plan on finding that the plan meets the requirements of subsection (c) of this section. The Commissioner's review of the municipal plan shall be for the purpose only of determining whether a determination of energy compliance should be issued because those requirements are met.

    (2) A municipality aggrieved by an act or decision of the Commissioner under this subsection may appeal in accordance with the procedures of subsection (f) of this section.

    (h) Determination; time period. An affirmative determination of energy compliance issued pursuant to this section shall remain in effect until the end of the period for expiration or readoption of the plan to which it applies.

    (i) Commissioner; consultation. In the discharge of the duties assigned under this section, the Commissioner shall consult with and solicit the recommendations of the Secretaries of Agriculture, Food and Markets, of Commerce and Community Development, of Natural Resources, and of Transportation. (Added 2015, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 6, eff. June 13, 2016.)


  • Subchapter 004: REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT
  • § 4361. Repealed. 1981, No. 132 (Adj. Sess.), § 18.

  • § 4362. Appropriations

    (a) For the purposes outlined in section 4361 of this title, regional planning commissions may receive and expend monies from any source, including, without limitation, the participating municipalities and the agency of commerce and community development, out of funds appropriated to that office for this purpose. Municipalities may appropriate to and expend funds for regional planning commissions for this purpose. Direct financial assistance from the state to regional planning commissions for the purposes outlined in section 4361 of this title is restricted to fifty percent of the annual operating expenses of the commission.

    (b) Regional planning commissions requesting state aid from the agency of commerce and community development shall submit annual reports to the agency of their activities and shall comply with such rules, regulations and standards as the agency shall prescribe to determine eligibility for state financial assistance, and, further, shall submit to the agency, or must be in the process of preparing, a program for the economic development of the region which is consistent with the regional plan for the region which has been adopted, or which is in the process of preparation. (Added 1967, No. 334 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. March 23, 1968; amended 1971, No. 257 (Adj. Sess.), § 6, eff. April 11, 1972; 1995, No. 190 (Adj. Sess.), § 1(a).)


  • Subchapter 005: MUNICIPAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN
  • § 4381. Authorization

    Any municipality may undertake a comprehensive planning program including related preliminary planning and engineering studies, and prepare, maintain and implement a plan within its jurisdiction in accordance with this chapter. (Added 1967, No. 334 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. March 23, 1968; amended 1987, No. 200 (Adj. Sess.), § 9, eff. July 1, 1989; 1989, No. 280 (Adj. Sess.), § 4b.)

  • § 4382. The plan for a municipality

    (a) A plan for a municipality may be consistent with the goals established in section 4302 of this title and compatible with approved plans of other municipalities in the region and with the regional plan and shall include the following:

    (1) A statement of objectives, policies, and programs of the municipality to guide the future growth and development of land, public services, and facilities, and to protect the environment.

    [Subdivision (a)(2) effective until January 1, 2018; see also subdivision (a)(2) effective January 1, 2018 set out below.]

    (2) A land use plan:

    (A) consisting of a map and statement of present and prospective land uses, indicating those areas proposed for forests, recreation, agriculture (using the agricultural lands identification process established in 6 V.S.A. § 8), residence, commerce, industry, public, and semi-public uses and open spaces reserved for flood plain, wetland protection, or other conservation purposes;

    (B) setting forth the present and prospective location, amount, intensity, and character of such land uses and the appropriate timing or sequence of land development activities in relation to the provision of necessary community facilities and service; and

    (C) identifying those areas, if any, proposed for designation under chapter 76A of this title, together with, for each area proposed for designation, an explanation of how the designation would further the plan's goals and the goals of section 4302 of this title, and how the area meets the requirements for the type of designation to be sought.

    [Subdivision (a)(2) effective January 1, 2018; see also subdivision (a)(2) effective until January 1, 2018 set out above.]

    (2) A land use plan, which shall consist of a map and statement of present and prospective land uses, that:

    (A) Indicates those areas proposed for forests, recreation, agriculture (using the agricultural lands identification process established in 6 V.S.A. § 8), residence, commerce, industry, public, and semi-public uses, and open spaces, areas reserved for flood plain, and areas identified by the State, the regional planning commission, or the municipality that require special consideration for aquifer protection; for wetland protection; for the maintenance of forest blocks, wildlife habitat, and habitat connectors; or for other conservation purposes.

    (B) Sets forth the present and prospective location, amount, intensity, and character of such land uses and the appropriate timing or sequence of land development activities in relation to the provision of necessary community facilities and service.

    (C) Identifies those areas, if any, proposed for designation under chapter 76A of this title, together with, for each area proposed for designation, an explanation of how the designation would further the plan's goals and the goals of section 4302 of this title, and how the area meets the requirements for the type of designation to be sought.

    (D) Indicates those areas that are important as forest blocks and habitat connectors and plans for land development in those areas to minimize forest fragmentation and promote the health, viability, and ecological function of forests. A plan may include specific policies to encourage the active management of those areas for wildlife habitat, water quality, timber production, recreation, or other values or functions identified by the municipality.

    (3) A transportation plan, consisting of a map and statement of present and prospective transportation and circulation facilities showing existing and proposed highways and streets by type and character of improvement, and where pertinent, parking facilities, transit routes, terminals, bicycle paths and trails, scenic roads, airports, railroads, and port facilities, and other similar facilities or uses, with indications of priority of need.

    (4) A utility and facility plan, consisting of a map and statement of present and prospective community facilities and public utilities showing existing and proposed educational, recreational and other public sites, buildings and facilities, including hospitals, libraries, power generating plants and transmission lines, water supply, sewage disposal, refuse disposal, storm drainage, and other similar facilities and activities, and recommendations to meet future needs for community facilities and services, with indications of priority of need, costs and method of financing.

    (5) A statement of policies on the preservation of rare and irreplaceable natural areas, scenic and historic features and resources.

    (6) An educational facilities plan consisting of a map and statement of present and projected uses and the local public school system.

    (7) A recommended program for the implementation of the objectives of the development plan.

    (8) A statement indicating how the plan relates to development trends and plans for adjacent municipalities, areas and the region developed under this title.

    (9) An energy plan, including an analysis of energy resources, needs, scarcities, costs and problems within the municipality, a statement of policy on the conservation of energy, including programs, such as thermal integrity standards for buildings, to implement that policy, a statement of policy on the development of renewable energy resources, a statement of policy on patterns and densities of land use likely to result in conservation of energy.

    (10) A housing element that shall include a recommended program for addressing low and moderate income persons' housing needs as identified by the regional planning commission pursuant to subdivision 4348a(a)(9) of this title. The program should account for permitted accessory dwelling units, as defined in subdivision 4412(1)(E) of this title, which provide affordable housing.

    (11) An economic development element that describes present economic conditions and the location, type, and scale of desired economic development, and identifies policies, projects, and programs necessary to foster economic growth.

    (12)(A) A flood resilience plan that:

    (i) identifies flood hazard and fluvial erosion hazard areas, based on river corridor maps provided by the Secretary of Natural Resources pursuant to 10 V.S.A. § 1428(a) or maps recommended by the Secretary, and designates those areas to be protected, including floodplains, river corridors, land adjacent to streams, wetlands, and upland forests, to reduce the risk of flood damage to infrastructure and improved property; and

    (ii) recommends policies and strategies to protect the areas identified and designated under subdivision (12)(A)(i) of this subsection and to mitigate risks to public safety, critical infrastructure, historic structures, and municipal investments.

    (B) A flood resilience plan may reference an existing local hazard mitigation plan approved under 44 C.F.R. § 201.6.

    (b) The maps called for by this section may be incorporated on one or more maps, and may be referred to in each separate statement called for by this section.

    (c) Where appropriate, and to further the purposes of subsection 4302(b) of this title, a municipal plan shall be based upon inventories, studies, and analyses of current trends and shall consider the probable social and economic consequences of the proposed plan. Such studies may consider or contain, but not be limited to:

    (1) population characteristics and distribution, including income and employment;

    (2) the existing and projected housing needs by amount, type, and location for all economic groups within the municipality and the region;

    (3) existing and estimated patterns and rates of growth in the various land use classifications, and desired patterns and rates of growth in terms of the community's ability to finance and provide public facilities and services.

    (d) Where appropriate, a municipal plan may provide for the use of "transit passes" or other evidence of reduced demand for parking spaces in lieu of parking spaces. (Added 1967, No. 334 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. March 23, 1968; amended 1971, No. 257 (Adj. Sess.), § 7, eff. April 11, 1972; 1975, No. 236 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 1979, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 8; 1985, No. 188 (Adj. Sess.), § 10; 1987, No. 200 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 8, 10, eff. July 1, 1989; 1989, No. 280 (Adj. Sess.), § 7; 1991, No. 130 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 1995, No. 122 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Apr. 25, 1996; 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 89; 2011, No. 52, § 33, eff. July 1, 2012; 2013, No. 16, § 4, eff. July 1, 2014; 2013, No. 146 (Adj. Sess.), § 6, eff. May 27, 2014; 2015, No. 171 (Adj. Sess.), § 17, eff. Jan. 1, 2018.)

  • § 4383. Repealed. 1987, No. 200 (Adj. Sess.), § 10, eff. July 1, 1989.

  • § 4384. Preparation of plan; hearings by planning commission

    (a) A municipality may have a plan. Any plan for a municipality shall be prepared by the planning commission of that municipality. At the outset of the planning process and throughout the process, planning commissions shall solicit the participation of local citizens and organizations by holding informal working sessions that suit the needs of local people. An amendment or repeal of a plan may be prepared by or at the direction of the planning commission or by any other person or body.

    (b) If any person or body other than a municipal planning commission prepares an amendment to a plan, that person or body shall submit the amendment in writing and all supporting documents to the municipal planning commission. The planning commission may then proceed as if the amendment had been prepared by the commission. However, if the proposed amendment is supported by a petition signed by not less than five percent of the voters of the municipality, the planning commission shall correct any technical deficiency and shall, without otherwise changing the amendment, promptly proceed in accordance with subsections (c) through (f) of this section as if it had been prepared by the commission.

    (c) When considering an amendment to a plan, the planning commission shall prepare a written report on the proposal. The report shall address the extent to which the plan, as amended, is consistent with the goals established in section 4302 of this title. If the proposal would alter the designation of any land area, the report should cover the following points:

    (1) The probable impact on the surrounding area, including the effect of any resulting increase in traffic, and the probable impact on the overall pattern of land use.

    (2) The long-term cost or benefit to the municipality, based upon consideration of the probable impact on:

    (A) the municipal tax base; and

    (B) the need for public facilities.

    (3) The amount of vacant land which is:

    (A) already subject to the proposed new designation; and

    (B) actually available for that purpose, and the need for additional land for that purpose.

    (4) The suitability of the area in question for the proposed purpose, after consideration of:

    (A) appropriate alternative locations;

    (B) alternative uses for the area under consideration; and

    (C) the probable impact of the proposed change on other areas similarly designated.

    (5) The appropriateness of the size and boundaries of the area proposed for change, with respect to the area required for the proposed use, land capability, and existing development in the area.

    (d) The planning commission shall hold at least one public hearing within the municipality after public notice on any proposed plan or amendment.

    (e) At least 30 days prior to the first hearing, a copy of the proposed plan or amendment and the written report shall be delivered with proof of receipt, or mailed by certified mail, return receipt requested, to each of the following:

    (1) the chairperson of the planning commission of each abutting municipality, or in the absence of any planning commission in an abutting municipality, to the clerk of that municipality;

    (2) the executive director of the regional planning commission of the area in which the municipality is located;

    (3) the department of housing and community affairs within the agency of commerce and community development; and

    (4) business, conservation, low income advocacy and other community or interest groups or organizations that have requested notice in writing prior to the date the hearing is warned.

    Any of the foregoing bodies, or their representatives, may thereafter submit comments on the proposed plan or amendment to the planning commission, and may appear and be heard in any further proceeding with respect to the adoption of the proposed plan or amendment. The planning commission shall demonstrate that it has solicited comment from planning commissions of abutting municipalities and from the regional planning commission with respect to the compatibility of their respective plans with its own plan.

    (f) The planning commission may make revisions to the proposed plan or amendment and to any written report, and shall thereafter submit the proposed plan or amendment and any written report to the legislative body of the municipality. However, if requested by the legislative body, or if a proposed amendment was supported by a petition signed by not less than five percent of the voters of the municipality, the planning commission shall promptly submit the amendment, with changes only to correct technical deficiencies, to the legislative body of the municipality, together with any recommendation or opinion it considers appropriate. Simultaneously with the submission, the planning commission shall file with the clerk of the municipality a copy of the proposed plan or amendment, and any written report, for public review. (Added 1967, No. 334 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. March 23, 1968; amended 1971, No. 257 (Adj. Sess.), § 8, eff. April 11, 1972; 1981, No. 132 (Adj. Sess.), § 9; 1987, No. 200 (Adj. Sess.), § 11, eff. July 1, 1989; 1989, No. 280 (Adj. Sess.), § 8; 1995, No. 190 (Adj. Sess.), § 1(a).)

  • § 4385. Adoption and amendment of plans; hearing by legislative body

    (a) Not less than 30 nor more than 120 days after a proposed plan or amendment is submitted to the legislative body of a municipality under section 4384 of this title, the legislative body of a municipality with a population of 2,500 persons, or less shall hold the first of one or more public hearings, after public notice, on the proposed plan or amendment, and shall make copies of the proposal and any written report by the planning commission available to the public on request. A municipality with a population of more than 2,500 persons shall hold two or more such hearings. Failure to hold a hearing within the 120 days shall not invalidate the adoption of the plan or amendment.

    (b) The legislative body may change the proposed plan or amendment, but shall not do so less than 15 days prior to the final public hearing. If the legislative body at any time makes substantial changes in the concept, meaning or extent of the proposed plan or amendment, it shall warn a new public hearing or hearings under subsection (a) of this section.

    If any part of the proposal is changed, the legislative body, at least 15 days prior to the hearing shall file a copy of the changed proposal with the clerk of the municipality, with any individual or organization requesting a copy in writing, and with the planning commission. The planning commission shall submit to the legislative body at or prior to the public hearing a report that analyzes the extent to which the changed proposal, when taken together with the rest of the plan, is consistent with the legislative goals established in section 4302 of this title.

    (c) A plan of a municipality or an amendment thereof shall be adopted by a majority of the members of its legislative body at a meeting which is held after the final public hearing. If, however, at a regular or special meeting of the voters duly warned and held as provided in 17 V.S.A. chapter 55, a municipality elects to adopt or amend municipal plans by Australian ballot, that procedure shall then apply unless rescinded by the voters at a regular or special meeting similarly warned and held. If the proposed plan or amendment is not adopted so as to take effect within one year of the date of the final hearing of the planning commission, it shall be considered rejected by the municipality. Plans and amendments shall be effective upon adoption, and shall be provided to the regional planning commission and to the commissioner of housing and community affairs within 30 days of adoption. If a municipality wishes its plan or plan amendment to be eligible for approval under the provisions of section 4350 of this title, it shall request approval. The request for approval may be before or after adoption of the plan by the municipality, at the option of the municipality.

    (d) Plans may be reviewed from time to time and may be amended in the light of new developments and changed conditions affecting the municipality. An amendment to a plan does not affect or extend the plan's expiration date. (Added 1967, No. 334 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. March 23, 1968; amended 1981, No. 132 (Adj. Sess.), § 10; 1987, No. 200 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 12, 13, eff. July 1, 1989; 1989, No. 280 (Adj. Sess.), § 9; 2015, No. 90 (Adj. Sess.), § 2.)

  • § 4386. Repealed. 1971, No. 257 (Adj. Sess.), § 24, eff. April 11, 1972.

  • § 4387. Readoption of plans

    (a) All plans, including all prior amendments, shall expire every eight years unless they are readopted according to the procedures in section 4385 of this title.

    (b)(1) A municipality may readopt any plan that has expired or is about to expire. Prior to any readoption, the planning commission shall review and update the information on which the plan is based, and shall consider this information in evaluating the continuing applicability of the plan. In its review, the planning commission shall:

    (A) consider the recommendations of the regional planning commission provided pursuant to subdivision 4350(c)(2) of this title;

    (B) engage in community outreach and involvement in updating the plan;

    (C) consider consistency with the goals established in section 4302 of this title;

    (D) address the required plan elements under section 4382 of this title;

    (E) evaluate the plan for internal consistency among plan elements, goals, objectives, and community standards;

    (F) address compatibility with the regional plan and the approved plans of adjoining municipalities; and

    (G) establish a program and schedule for implementing the plan.

    (2) The readopted plan shall remain in effect for the ensuing eight years unless earlier readopted.

    (c) Upon the expiration of a plan, all bylaws and capital budgets and programs then in effect shall remain in effect, but shall not be amended until a plan is in effect.

    (d) The fact that a plan has not been approved shall not make it inapplicable, except as specifically provided by this chapter. Bylaws, capital budgets, and programs shall remain in effect, even if the plan has not been approved. (Added 1967, No. 334 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. March 23, 1968; amended 1975, No. 164 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; 1981, No. 132 (Adj. Sess.), § 11; 1987, No. 200 (Adj. Sess.), § 14, eff. July 1, 1989; 1989, No. 280 (Adj. Sess.), § 10; 2015, No. 90 (Adj. Sess.), § 3.)


  • Subchapter 006: IMPLEMENTATION OF PLAN
  • § 4401. Purpose and authority

    Any municipality that has adopted and has in effect a plan and has created a planning commission under this chapter may implement the plan by adopting, amending and enforcing any or all of the regulatory and nonregulatory tools provided for in this chapter. All such regulatory and nonregulatory tools shall be in conformance with the plan, shall be adopted for the purposes set forth in section 4302 of this title, and shall be in accord with the policies set forth therein. (Added 1967, No. 334 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. March 23, 1968; amended 1969, No. 116, § 5; 1971, No. 257 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 9, 10, eff. April 11, 1972; 1973, No. 261 (Adj. Sess.), § 4, eff. July 1, 1974; 1975, No. 164 (Adj. Sess.), § 5; 1983, No. 249 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; 1993, No. 232 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. March 15, 1995.; 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 91.)

  • § 4402. Bylaws and regulatory implementation tools authorized

    A municipality may adopt regulatory tools, including the following specific regulatory tools which are more fully described in subchapter 7 of this chapter:

    (1) Zoning bylaws.

    (2) Site plan bylaws.

    (3) Subdivision bylaws.

    (4) Unified development bylaws.

    (5) Official map.

    (6) Impact fees.

    (7) Phasing.

    (8) Transfer of development rights.

    (9) Special or freestanding bylaws. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 92.)

  • § 4403. Nonregulatory implementation tools

    A municipality may utilize the following tools, and other tools not specifically listed, in conformance with the municipal plan and for the purposes established in section 4302 of this title, alone or in conjunction with regulatory tools described in section 4402 of this title.

    (1) Capital budget and program. A municipality may adopt a capital budget and five-year program, pursuant to section 4430 of this title.

    (2) Tax increment financing. Pursuant to chapter 53 of this title, a municipality may create within its jurisdiction one or more tax increment financing districts.

    (3) Tax stabilization contracts. Pursuant to sections 4969 and 4985 of Title 32, a municipality may enter into tax stabilization contracts.

    (4) Purchase or acceptance of development rights. A municipality may purchase or accept development rights as a method to implement its plan, pursuant to chapter 155 of Title 10.

    (5) Plans supporting the municipal plan. A municipality may develop supporting plans and may incorporate these plans into the municipal plan pursuant to the process described in section 4385 of this title.

    (6) Advisory commissions. For the purposes of this chapter, the term "advisory commissions" includes advisory committees. A municipality may form commissions that are composed of persons with particular expertise or interest to assist with implementation of the plan in areas such as design review, historic preservation, housing, and conservation. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 93.)

  • § 4404. State designation; implementation of municipal plan

    A municipality, to implement its municipal plan, may apply for State designation of an existing or planned municipal growth center, downtown, village center, new town center, or neighborhood development area as necessary for eligibility to receive associated benefits pursuant to chapter 76A of this title. (Added 2013, No. 146 (Adj. Sess.), § 8, eff. May 27, 2014.)

  • §§ 4404a-4409. Repealed. 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 119.


  • Subchapter 007: BYLAWS
  • § 4410. Regulatory implementation of the municipal plan

    A municipality that has adopted a plan through its bylaws may define and regulate land development in any manner that the municipality establishes in its bylaws, provided those bylaws are in conformance with the plan and are adopted for the purposes set forth in section 4302 of this title. In its bylaws, a municipality may utilize any or all of the tools provided in this subchapter and any other regulatory tools or methods not specifically listed. However, no bylaws shall directly conflict with sections 4412 and 4413 of this title and subchapters 9, 10, and 11 of this title. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 95.)

  • § 4411. Zoning bylaws

    (a) A municipality may regulate land development in conformance with its adopted municipal plan and for the purposes set forth in section 4302 of this title to govern the use of land and the placement, spacing, and size of structures and other factors specified in the bylaws related to public health, safety, or welfare. Zoning bylaws may permit, prohibit, restrict, regulate, and determine land development, including the following:

    (1) specific uses of land and shoreland facilities;

    (2) dimensions, location, erection, construction, repair, maintenance, alteration, razing, removal, and use of structures;

    (3) areas and dimensions of land to be occupied by uses and structures, as well as areas, courts, yards, and other open spaces and distances to be left unoccupied by uses and structures;

    (4) timing or sequence of growth, density of population, and intensity of use;

    (5) uses within a river corridor and buffer, as those terms are defined in 10 V.S.A. §§ 1422 and 1427.

    (b) All zoning bylaws shall apply to all lands within the municipality other than as specifically limited or exempted in accordance with specific standards included within those bylaws and in accordance with the provisions of this chapter. The provisions of those bylaws may be classified so that different provisions may be applied to different classes of situations, uses, and structures and to different and separate districts of the municipality as may be described by a zoning map made part of the bylaws. The land use map required pursuant to subdivision 4382(a)(2) of this title of any municipality may be designated as the zoning map except in cases in which districts are not deemed by the planning commission to be described in sufficient accuracy or detail by the municipal plan land use map. All provisions shall be uniform for each class of use or structure within each district, except that additional classifications may be made within any district for any or all of the following:

    (1) To make transitional provisions at and near the boundaries of districts.

    (2) To regulate the expansion, reduction, or elimination of certain nonconforming uses, structures, lots, or parcels.

    (3) To regulate, restrict, or prohibit uses or structures at or near any of the following:

    (A) Major thoroughfares, their intersections and interchanges, and transportation arteries.

    (B) Natural or artificial bodies of water.

    (C) Places of relatively steep slope or grade.

    (D) Public buildings and public grounds.

    (E) Aircraft and helicopter facilities.

    (F) Places having unique patriotic, ecological, historical, archaeological, or community interest or value, or located within scenic or design control districts.

    (G) Flood or other hazard areas and other places having a special character or use affecting or affected by their surroundings.

    (H) River corridors, river corridor protection areas, and buffers, as the term "buffer" is defined in 10 V.S.A. § 1422.

    (4) To regulate, restrict, or prohibit uses or structures in overlay districts, as set forth in subdivision 4414(2) of this title. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 95; amended 2009, No. 110 (Adj. Sess.), § 6; 2011, No. 138 (Adj. Sess.), § 12, eff. May 14, 2012.)

  • § 4412. Required provisions and prohibited effects

    Notwithstanding any existing bylaw, the following land development provisions shall apply in every municipality:

    (1) Equal treatment of housing and required provisions for affordable housing.

    (A) No bylaw nor its application by an appropriate municipal panel under this chapter shall have the effect of excluding housing that meets the needs of the population as determined in the housing element of its municipal plan as required under subdivision 4382(a)(10) of this title or the effect of discriminating in the permitting of housing as specified in 9 V.S.A. § 4503.

    (B) Except as provided in subdivisions 4414(1)(E) and (F) of this title, no bylaw shall have the effect of excluding mobile homes, modular housing, or prefabricated housing from the municipality, except upon the same terms and conditions as conventional housing is excluded. A municipality may establish specific site standards in the bylaws to regulate individual sites within preexisting mobile home parks with regard to distances between structures and other standards as necessary to ensure public health, safety, and welfare, provided the standards do not have the effect of prohibiting the replacement of mobile homes on existing lots.

    (C) No bylaw shall have the effect of excluding mobile home parks, as defined in 10 V.S.A. chapter 153, from the municipality.

    (D) Bylaws shall designate appropriate districts and reasonable regulations for multiunit or multifamily dwellings. No bylaw shall have the effect of excluding these multiunit or multifamily dwellings from the municipality.

    (E) Except for flood hazard and fluvial erosion area bylaws adopted pursuant to section 4424 of this title, no bylaw shall have the effect of excluding as a permitted use one accessory dwelling unit that is located within or appurtenant to an owner-occupied single-family dwelling. An accessory dwelling unit means an efficiency or one-bedroom apartment that is clearly subordinate to a single-family dwelling, and has facilities and provisions for independent living, including sleeping, food preparation, and sanitation, provided there is compliance with all the following:

    (i) The property has sufficient wastewater capacity.

    (ii) The unit does not exceed 30 percent of the total habitable floor area of the single-family dwelling.

    (iii) Applicable setback, coverage, and parking requirements specified in the bylaws are met.

    (F) Nothing in subdivision (1)(E) of this section shall be construed to prohibit:

    (i) a bylaw that is less restrictive of accessory dwelling units;

    (ii) a bylaw that requires conditional use review for one or more of the following that is involved in creation of an accessory dwelling unit:

    (I) a new accessory structure;

    (II) an increase in the height or floor area of the existing dwelling; or

    (III) an increase in the dimensions of the parking areas.

    (G) A residential care home or group home to be operated under state licensing or registration, serving not more than eight persons who have a disability as defined in 9 V.S.A. § 4501, shall be considered by right to constitute a permitted single-family residential use of property, except that no such home shall be so considered if it is located within 1,000 feet of another existing or permitted such home.

    (2) Existing small lots. Any lot that is legally subdivided, is in individual and separate and nonaffiliated ownership from surrounding properties, and is in existence on the date of enactment of any bylaw, including an interim bylaw, may be developed for the purposes permitted in the district in which it is located, even though the small lot no longer conforms to minimum lot size requirements of the new bylaw or interim bylaw.

    (A) A municipality may prohibit development of a lot if either of the following applies:

    (i) the lot is less than one-eighth acre in area; or

    (ii) the lot has a width or depth dimension of less than 40 feet.

    (B) The bylaw may provide that if an existing small lot subsequently comes under common ownership with one or more contiguous lots, the nonconforming lot shall be deemed merged with the contiguous lot. However, a nonconforming lot shall not be deemed merged and may be separately conveyed if all the following apply:

    (i) The lots are conveyed in their preexisting, nonconforming configuration.

    (ii) On the effective date of any bylaw, each lot was developed with a water supply and wastewater disposal system.

    (iii) At the time of transfer, each water supply and wastewater system is functioning in an acceptable manner.

    (iv) The deeds of conveyance create appropriate easements on both lots for replacement of one or more wastewater systems, potable water systems, or both, in case there is a failed system or failed supply as defined in 10 V.S.A. chapter 64.

    (C) Nothing in this subdivision (2) shall be construed to prohibit a bylaw that is less restrictive of development of existing small lots.

    (3) Required frontage on, or access to, public roads, class 4 town highways, or public waters. Land development may be permitted on lots that do not have frontage either on a public road, class 4 town highway, or public waters, provided that access through a permanent easement or right-of-way has been approved in accordance with standards and process specified in the bylaws. This approval shall be pursuant to subdivision bylaws adopted in accordance with section 4418 of this title, or where subdivision bylaws have not been adopted or do not apply, through a process and pursuant to standards defined in bylaws adopted for the purpose of assuring safe and adequate access. Any permanent easement or right-of-way providing access to such a road or waters shall be at least 20 feet in width.

    (4) Protection of home occupations. No bylaw may infringe upon the right of any resident to use a minor portion of a dwelling unit for an occupation that is customary in residential areas and that does not have an undue adverse effect upon the character of the residential area in which the dwelling is located.

    (5) Child care. A "family child care home or facility" as used in this subdivision means a home or facility where the owner or operator is to be licensed or registered by the State for child care. A family child care home serving six or fewer children shall be considered to constitute a permitted single-family residential use of property. A family child care home serving no more than six full-time children and four part-time children, as defined in 33 V.S.A. § 3511(7), shall be considered to constitute a permitted use of property but may require site plan approval based on local zoning requirements. A family child care facility serving more than six full-time and four part-time children may, at the discretion of the municipality, be subject to all applicable municipal bylaws.

    (6) Heights of renewable energy resource structures. The height of wind turbines with blades less than 20 feet in diameter, or rooftop solar collectors less than 10 feet high on sloped roofs, any of which are mounted on complying structures, shall not be regulated unless the bylaws provide specific standards for regulation. For the purpose of this subdivision, a sloped roof means a roof having a slope of more than five degrees. In addition, the regulation of antennae that are part of a telecommunications facility, as defined in 30 V.S.A. § 248a, may be exempt from review under this chapter according to the provisions of that section.

    (7) Nonconformities. All bylaws shall define how nonconformities will be addressed, including standards for nonconforming uses, nonconforming structures, and nonconforming lots.

    (A) To achieve the purposes of this chapter set forth in section 4302 of this title, municipalities may regulate and prohibit expansion and undue perpetuation of nonconformities. Specifically, a municipality, in its bylaws, may:

    (i) Specify a time period that shall constitute abandonment or discontinuance of that nonconforming use, provided the time period is not less than six months.

    (ii) Specify the extent to which, and circumstances under which, a nonconformity may be maintained or repaired.

    (iii) Specify the extent to which, and circumstances under which, a nonconformity may change or expand.

    (iv) Regulate relocation or enlargement of a structure containing a nonconforming use.

    (v) Specify the circumstances in which a nonconformity that is destroyed may be rebuilt.

    (vi) Specify other appropriate circumstances in which a nonconformity must comply with the bylaws.

    (B) If a mobile home park, as defined in 10 V.S.A. chapter 153, is a nonconformity pursuant to a municipality's bylaws, the entire mobile home park shall be treated as a nonconformity under those bylaws, and individual lots within the mobile home park shall in no event be considered nonconformities. Unless the bylaws provide specific standards as described in subdivision (1)(B) of this section, where a mobile home park is a nonconformity under bylaws, its status regarding conformance or nonconformance shall apply to the parcel as a whole, and not to any individual mobile home lot within the park. An individual mobile home lot that is vacated shall not be considered a discontinuance or abandonment of a nonconformity.

    (C) Nothing in this section shall be construed to restrict the authority of a municipality to abate public nuisances or to abate or remove public health risks or hazards.

    (8)(A) Communications antennae and facilities. Except to the extent bylaws protect historic landmarks and structures listed on the State or National Register of Historic Places, no permit shall be required for placement of an antenna used to transmit, receive, or transmit and receive communications signals on that property owner's premises if the area of the largest face of the antenna is not more than 15 square feet, and if the antenna and any mast support do not extend more than 12 feet above the roof of that portion of the building to which the mast is attached.

    (B) If an antenna structure is less than 20 feet in height and its primary function is to transmit or receive communication signals for commercial, industrial, institutional, nonprofit, or public purposes, it shall not be regulated under this chapter if it is located on a structure located within the boundaries of a downhill ski area and permitted under this chapter. For the purposes of this subdivision, "downhill ski area" means an area with trails for downhill skiing served by one or more ski lifts and any other areas within the boundaries of the ski area and open to the public for winter sports.

    (C) The regulation of a telecommunications facility, as defined in 30 V.S.A. § 248a, shall be exempt from municipal approval under this chapter when and to the extent jurisdiction is assumed by the Public Utility Commission according to the provisions of that section. This exemption from obtaining approval under this chapter shall not affect the substantial deference to be given to a plan or recommendation based on a local land use bylaw under 30 V.S.A. § 248a(c)(2).

    (D) A municipality may regulate communications towers, antennae, and related facilities in its bylaws provided that such regulations do not have the purpose or effect of being inconsistent with subdivisions (A) through (C) of this subdivision (8).

    (9) De minimis telecommunications impacts. An officer or entity designated by the municipality shall review telecommunications facilities applications, and upon determining that a particular application will impose no impact or de minimis impact upon any criteria established in the bylaws, shall approve the application.

    (10) Planting projects; flood hazard and similar areas. A bylaw under this chapter shall not require the filing of an application or the issuance of a permit by the municipality for a planting project considered to have a permit by operation of subsection 4424(c) of this title. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 95; amended 2005, No. 172 (Adj. Sess.), § 5, eff. May 22, 2006; 2007, No. 79, § 15; 2007, No. 79, § 15, eff. June 9, 2007; 2009, No. 54, § 45, eff. June 1, 2009; 2011, No. 53, § 14e, eff. May 27, 2011; 2011, No. 137 (Adj. Sess.), § 7, eff. May 14, 2012; 2011, No. 155 (Adj. Sess.), § 14; 2011, No. 170 (Adj. Sess.), § 16e, eff. May 18, 2012; 2013, No. 16, § 5, eff. May 6, 2013; 2013, No. 96 (Adj. Sess.), § 162; 2013, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 127, eff. May 20, 2014; 2015, No. 130 (Adj. Sess.), § 5b, eff. May 25, 2016; 2017, No. 4, § 2, eff. March 6, 2017.)

  • § 4413. Limitations on municipal bylaws

    (a)(1) The following uses may be regulated only with respect to location, size, height, building bulk, yards, courts, setbacks, density of buildings, off-street parking, loading facilities, traffic, noise, lighting, landscaping, and screening requirements, and only to the extent that regulations do not have the effect of interfering with the intended functional use:

    (A) State- or community-owned and operated institutions and facilities.

    (B) Public and private schools and other educational institutions certified by the Agency of Education.

    (C) Churches and other places of worship, convents, and parish houses.

    (D) Public and private hospitals.

    (E) Regional solid waste management facilities certified under 10 V.S.A. chapter 159.

    (F) Hazardous waste management facilities for which a notice of intent to construct has been received under 10 V.S.A. § 6606a.

    (2) Except for State-owned and -operated institutions and facilities, a municipality may regulate each of the land uses listed in subdivision (1) of this subsection for compliance with the National Flood Insurance Program and for compliance with a municipal ordinance or bylaw regulating development in a flood hazard area or river corridor, consistent with the requirements of subdivision 2291(25) and section 4424 of this title. These regulations shall not have the effect of interfering with the intended functional use.

    (b) A bylaw under this chapter shall not regulate public utility power generating plants and transmission facilities regulated under 30 V.S.A. § 248.

    (c) Except as otherwise provided by this section and by 10 V.S.A. § 1976, if any bylaw is enacted with respect to any land development that is subject to regulation under State statutes, the more stringent or restrictive regulation applicable shall apply.

    (d)(1) A bylaw under this chapter shall not regulate:

    (A) required agricultural practices, including the construction of farm structures, as those practices are defined by the Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets;

    (B) accepted silvicultural practices, as defined by the Commissioner of Forests, Parks and Recreation, including practices which are in compliance with the Acceptable Management Practices for Maintaining Water Quality on Logging Jobs in Vermont, as adopted by the Commissioner of Forests, Parks and Recreation; or

    (C) forestry operations.

    (2) As used in this section:

    (A) "Farm structure" means a building, enclosure, or fence for housing livestock, raising horticultural or agronomic plants, or carrying out other practices associated with accepted agricultural or farming practices, including a silo, as "farming" is defined in 10 V.S.A. § 6001(22), but excludes a dwelling for human habitation.

    (B) "Forestry operations" has the same meaning as in 10 V.S.A. § 2602.

    (3) A person shall notify a municipality of the intent to build a farm structure and shall abide by setbacks approved by the Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets. No municipal permit for a farm structure shall be required.

    (4) This subsection does not prevent an appropriate municipal panel, when issuing a decision on an application for land development over which the panel otherwise has jurisdiction under this chapter, from imposing reasonable conditions under subsection 4464(b) of this title to protect wildlife habitat, threatened or endangered species, or other natural, historic, or scenic resources and does not prevent the municipality from enforcing such conditions, provided that the reasonable conditions do not restrict or regulate forestry operations unrelated to land development.

    (e) A bylaw enacted under this chapter shall be subject to the restrictions created under section 2295 of this title, with respect to the limits on municipal power to regulate hunting, fishing, trapping, and other activities specified under that section.

    (f) This section shall apply in every municipality, notwithstanding any existing bylaw to the contrary.

    (g) Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, a bylaw adopted under this chapter shall not:

    (1) Regulate the installation, operation, and maintenance, on a flat roof of an otherwise complying structure, of a solar energy device that heats water or space or generates electricity. For the purpose of this subdivision, "flat roof" means a roof having a slope less than or equal to five degrees.

    (2) Prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting the installation of solar collectors not exempted from regulation under subdivision (1) of this subsection, clotheslines, or other energy devices based on renewable resources.

    (h)(1) Except as necessary to ensure compliance with the National Flood Insurance Program, a bylaw under this chapter shall not regulate any of the following:

    (A) An ancillary improvement that does not exceed a footprint of 300 square feet and a height of 10 feet.

    (B) The following improvements associated with the construction or installation of a communications line:

    (i) The attachment of a new or replacement cable or wire to an existing electrical distribution or communications distribution pole.

    (ii) The replacement of an existing electrical distribution or communications distribution pole with a new pole, so long as the new pole is not more than 10 feet taller than the pole it replaces.

    (2) For purposes of this subsection:

    (A) "Ancillary improvement" shall have the same definition as is established in 30 V.S.A. § 248a(b).

    (B) "Communications line" means a wireline or fiber-optic cable communications facility that transmits and receives signals to and from a local, State, national, or international network used primarily for two-way communications for commercial, industrial, municipal, county, or State purposes. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 95; amended 2009, No. 45, § 15c, eff. May 27, 2009; 2011, No. 53, § 14, eff. May 27, 2011; 2011, No. 170 (Adj. Sess.), § 16f, eff. May 18, 2012; 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 272, eff. Feb. 14, 2014; 2013, No. 107 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. April 18, 2014; 2015, No. 64, § 52; 2015, No. 171 (Adj. Sess.), § 19.)

  • § 4414. Zoning; permissible types of regulations

    Any of the following types of regulations may be adopted by a municipality in its bylaws in conformance with the plan and for the purposes established in section 4302 of this title.

    (1) Zoning districts. A municipality may define different and separate zoning districts, and identify within these districts which land uses are permitted as of right, and which are conditional uses requiring review and approval, including the districts set forth in this subdivision (1).

    (A) Downtown, village center, new town center, and growth center districts. The definition or purpose stated for local downtown, village center, new town center, or growth center zoning districts should conform with the applicable definitions in section 2791 of this title. Municipalities may adopt downtown, village center, new town center, or growth center districts without seeking State designation under chapter 76A of this title. A municipality may adopt a manual of graphic or written design guidelines to assist applicants in the preparation of development applications. The following objectives should guide the establishment of boundaries, requirements, and review standards for these districts:

    (i) To create a compact settlement oriented toward pedestrian activity and including an identifiable neighborhood center, with consistently higher densities than those found in surrounding districts.

    (ii) To provide for a variety of housing types, jobs, shopping, services, and public facilities with residences, shops, workplaces, and public buildings interwoven within the district, all within close proximity.

    (iii) To create a pattern of interconnecting streets and blocks, consistent with historic settlement patterns, that encourages multiple routes from origins to destinations.

    (iv) To provide for a coordinated transportation system with a hierarchy of appropriately designed facilities for pedestrians, bicycles, public transit, and automotive vehicles.

    (v) To provide for natural features and undisturbed areas that are incorporated into the open space of the neighborhood as well as historically compatible squares, greens, landscaped streets, and parks woven into the pattern of the neighborhood.

    (vi) To provide for public buildings, open spaces, and other visual features that act as landmarks, symbols, and focal points for community identity.

    (vii) To ensure compatibility of buildings and other improvements as determined by their arrangement, building bulk, form, design, character, and landscaping to establish a livable, harmonious, and diverse environment.

    (viii) To provide for public and private buildings that form a consistent, distinct edge, are oriented toward streets, and define the border between the public street space and the private block interior.

    (B) Agricultural, rural residential, forest, and recreational districts. Where, for the purposes set forth in section 4302 of this title, it is deemed necessary to safeguard certain areas from urban or suburban development and to encourage that development in other areas of the municipality or region, the following districts may be created:

    (i) Agricultural or rural residential districts, permitting all types of agricultural uses and prohibiting all other land development except low density residential development.

    (ii) Forest districts, permitting commercial forestry and related uses and prohibiting all other land development.

    (iii) Recreational districts, permitting camps, ski areas, and related recreational facilities, including lodging for transients and seasonal residents, and prohibiting all other land development except construction of residences for occupancy by caretakers and their families.

    (C) Airport hazard area. In accordance with 5 V.S.A. chapter 17, any municipality may adopt special bylaws governing the use of land, location, and size of buildings and density of population within a distance of two miles from the boundaries of an airport under an approach zone and for a distance of one mile from the boundaries of the airport elsewhere. The designation of that area and the bylaws applying within that area shall be in accord with applicable airport zoning guidelines, if any, adopted by the Vermont Transportation Board.

    (D) Shorelands.

    (i) A municipality may adopt bylaws to regulate shorelands as defined in 10 V.S.A. § 1422 to prevent and control water pollution; preserve and protect wetlands and other terrestrial and aquatic wildlife habitat; conserve the scenic beauty of shorelands; minimize shoreline erosion; reserve public access to public waters; and achieve other municipal, regional, or State shoreland conservation and development objectives.

    (ii) Shoreland bylaws may regulate the design and maintenance of sanitary facilities; regulate filling of and other adverse alterations to wetlands and other wildlife habitat areas; control building location; require the provision and maintenance of vegetation; require provisions for access to public waters for all residents and owners of the development; and impose other requirements authorized by this chapter.

    (E) Design review districts. Bylaws may contain provisions for the establishment of design review districts. Prior to the establishment of such a district, the planning commission shall prepare a report describing the particular planning and design problems of the proposed district and setting forth a design plan for the areas which shall include recommended planning and design criteria to guide future development. The planning commission shall hold a public hearing, after public notice, on that report. After this hearing, the planning commission may recommend to the legislative body a design review district as a bylaw amendment. A design review district may be created for any area containing structures of historical, architectural, or cultural merit, and other areas in which there is a concentration of community interest and participation such as a central business district, civic center, or a similar grouping or focus of activities. These areas may include townscape areas that resemble in important aspects the earliest permanent settlements, including a concentrated urban settlement with striking vistas, views extending across open fields and up to the forest edge, a central focal point and town green, and buildings of high architectural quality, including styles of the early 19th century. Within such a designated design review district, no structure may be erected, reconstructed, substantially altered, restored, moved, demolished, or changed in use or type of occupancy without approval of the plans by the appropriate municipal panel. A design review board may be appointed by the legislative body of the municipality, in accordance with section 4433 of this title, to advise any appropriate municipal panel.

    (F) Local historic districts and landmarks.

    (i) Bylaws may contain provisions for the establishment of historic districts and the designation of historic landmarks. Historic districts shall include structures and areas of historic or architectural significance and may include distinctive design or landscape characteristics, areas, and structures with a particular relationship to the historic and cultural values of the surrounding area, and structures whose exterior architectural features bear a significant relationship to the remainder of the structures or to the surrounding area. Bylaws may reference National and State Registers of Historic Places, properties, and districts. A report prepared under section 4441 of this title with respect to the establishment of a local historic district or designation of an historic landmark shall contain a map that clearly delineates the boundaries of the local historic district or landmark, justification for the boundary, a description of the elements of the resources that are integral to its historical, architectural, and cultural significance, and a statement of the significance of the local historic district or landmark.

    (ii) With respect to external appearances and other than normal maintenance, no structure within a designated historic district may be rehabilitated, substantially altered, restored, moved, demolished, or changed, and no new structure within an historic district may be erected without approval of the plans therefor by the appropriate municipal panel. The panel shall consider the following in its review of plans submitted:

    (I) The historic or architectural significance of the structure, its distinctive characteristics, and its relationship to the historic significance of the surrounding area.

    (II) The relationship of the proposed changes in the exterior architectural features of the structure to the remainder of the structure and to the surrounding area.

    (III) The general compatibility of the proposed exterior design, arrangement, texture, and materials proposed to be used.

    (IV) Any other factors, including the environmental setting and aesthetic factors that the panel deems to be pertinent.

    (iii) When an appropriate municipal panel is reviewing an application relating to an historic district, the panel:

    (I) Shall be strict in its judgment of plans for those structures deemed to be valuable under subdivision (1)(F)(i) of this section, but is not required to limit new construction, alteration, or repairs to the architectural style of any one period, but may encourage compatible new design.

    (II) If an application is submitted for the alteration of the exterior appearance of a structure or for the moving or demolition of a structure deemed to be significant under subdivision (1)(F)(i) of this section, shall meet with the owner of the structure to devise an economically feasible plan for the preservation of the structure.

    (III) Shall approve an application only when the panel is satisfied that the proposed plan will not materially impair the historic or architectural significance of the structure or surrounding area.

    (IV) In the case of a structure deemed to be significant under subdivision (1)(F)(i) of this section, may approve the proposed alteration despite subdivision (1)(F)(ii)(III) of this section if the panel finds either or both of the following:

    (aa) The structure is a deterrent to a major improvement program that will be of clear and substantial benefit to the municipality.

    (bb) Retention of the structure would cause undue financial hardship to the owner.

    (iv) This subdivision (1)(F), and bylaws issued pursuant to it, shall apply to designation of individual landmarks as well as to designation of local historic districts. A landmark is any individual building, structure, or site that by itself has a special historic, architectural, or cultural value.

    (v) The provisions of this subdivision (1)(F) shall not in any way apply to or affect buildings, structures, or land within the "Capitol complex," as defined in 29 V.S.A. chapter 6.

    (G) River corridors and buffers. In accordance with section 4424 of this title, a municipality may adopt bylaws to protect river corridors and buffers, as those terms are defined in 10 V.S.A. §§ 1422 and 1427, in order to protect public safety; prevent and control water pollution; prevent and control stormwater runoff; preserve and protect wetlands and waterways; maintain and protect natural channel, streambank, and floodplain stability; minimize fluvial erosion and damage to property and transportation infrastructure; preserve and protect the habitat of terrestrial and aquatic wildlife; promote open space and aesthetics; and achieve other municipal, regional, or State conservation and development objectives for river corridors and buffers. River corridor and buffer bylaws may regulate the design and location of development; control the location of buildings; require the provision and maintenance or reestablishment of vegetation, including no net loss of vegetation; require screening of development or use from waters; reserve existing public access to public waters; and impose other requirements authorized by this chapter.

    (2) Overlay districts. Special districts may be created to supplement or modify the zoning requirements otherwise applicable in underlying districts in order to provide supplementary provisions for areas such as shorelands and floodplains, aquifer and source protection areas, ridgelines and scenic features, highway intersection, bypass, and interchange areas, or other features described in section 4411 of this title.

    (3) Conditional uses.

    (A) In any district, certain uses may be allowed only by approval of the appropriate municipal panel, if general and specific standards to which each allowed use must conform are prescribed in the appropriate bylaws and if the appropriate municipal panel, under the procedures in subchapter 10 of this chapter, determines that the proposed use will conform to those standards. These general standards shall require that the proposed conditional use shall not result in an undue adverse effect on any of the following:

    (i) The capacity of existing or planned community facilities.

    (ii) The character of the area affected, as defined by the purpose or purposes of the zoning district within which the project is located, and specifically stated policies and standards of the municipal plan.

    (iii) Traffic on roads and highways in the vicinity.

    (iv) Bylaws and ordinances then in effect.

    (v) Utilization of renewable energy resources.

    (B) The general standards set forth in subdivision (3)(A) of this section may be supplemented by more specific criteria, including requirements with respect to any of the following:

    (i) Minimum lot size.

    (ii) Distance from adjacent or nearby uses.

    (iii) Performance standards, as under subdivision (5) of this section.

    (iv) Criteria adopted relating to site plan review pursuant to section 4416 of this title.

    (v) Any other standards and factors that the bylaws may include.

    (C) One or more of the review criteria found in 10 V.S.A. § 6086 may be adopted as standards for use in conditional use review.

    (4) Parking and loading facilities. A municipality may adopt provisions setting forth standards for permitted and required facilities for off-street parking and loading which may vary by district and by uses within each district. These bylaws may also include provisions covering the location, size, design, access, landscaping, and screening of those facilities. In determining the number and size of parking spaces required under these regulations, the appropriate municipal panel may take into account the existence or availability of employer "transit pass" and rideshare programs, public transit routes, and public parking spaces in the vicinity of the development.

    (5) Performance standards. As an alternative or supplement to the listing of specific uses permitted in districts, including those in manufacturing or industrial districts, bylaws may specify acceptable standards or levels of performance that will be required in connection with any use. These bylaws shall specifically describe the levels of operation that are acceptable and not likely to affect adversely the use of the surrounding area by the emission of such dangerous or objectionable elements as noise, vibration, smoke, dust, odor, or other form of air pollution, heat, cold, dampness, electromagnetic, or other disturbance, glare, liquid, or solid refuse or wastes; or create any dangerous, injurious, noxious, fire, explosive, or other hazard. The land planning policies and development bylaws manual prepared pursuant to section 4304 of this title shall contain recommended forms of alternative performance standards, and the assistance of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development shall be available to any municipality that requests aid in the application or enforcement of these bylaws.

    (6) Access to renewable energy resources. Any municipality may adopt zoning and subdivision bylaws to encourage energy conservation and to protect and provide access to, among others, the collection or conversion of direct sunlight, wind, running water, organically derived fuels, including wood and agricultural sources, waste heat, and geothermal sources, including those recommendations contained in the adopted municipal plan, regional plan, or both. The bylaw shall establish a standard of review in conformance with the municipal plan provisions required pursuant to subdivision 4382(a)(9) of this title.

    (7) Inclusionary zoning. In order to provide for affordable housing, bylaws may require that a certain percentage of housing units in a proposed subdivision, planned unit development, or multi-unit development meets defined affordability standards, which may include lower income limits than contained in the definition of "affordable housing" in subdivision 4303(1) of this title and may contain different affordability percentages than contained in the definition of "affordable housing development" in subdivision 4303(2) of this title. These provisions, at a minimum, shall comply with all the following:

    (A) Be in conformance with specific policies of the housing element of the municipal plan.

    (B) Be determined from an analysis of the need for affordable rental and sale housing units in the community.

    (C) Include development incentives that contribute to the economic feasibility of providing affordable housing units, such as density bonuses, reductions or waivers of minimum lot, dimensional or parking requirements, reductions or waivers of applicable fees, or reductions or waivers of required public or nonpublic improvements.

    (D) Require, through conditions of approval, that once affordable housing is built, its availability will be maintained through measures that establish income qualifications for renters or purchasers, promote affirmative marketing, and regulate the price, rent, and resale price of affordable units for a time period specified in the bylaws.

    (8) Waivers.

    (A) A bylaw may allow a municipality to grant waivers to reduce dimensional requirements, in accordance with specific standards that shall be in conformance with the plan and the goals set forth in section 4302 of this title. These standards may:

    (i) allow mitigation through design, screening, or other remedy;

    (ii) allow waivers for structures providing for disability accessibility, fire safety, and other requirements of law; and

    (iii) provide for energy conservation and renewable energy structures.

    (B) If waivers from dimensional requirements are provided, the bylaws shall specify the process by which these waivers may be granted and appealed.

    (9) Stormwater management and control. Any municipality may adopt bylaws to implement stormwater management and control consistent with the program developed by the Secretary of Natural Resources pursuant to 10 V.S.A. § 1264.

    (10) Time-share projects. The bylaws may require that time-share projects consisting of five or more time-share estates or licenses be subject to development review.

    (11) Archaeological resources. A municipality may adopt bylaws for the purpose of regulating archaeological sites and areas that may contain significant archaeological sites to make progress toward attaining the goals in the municipal plan concerning the protection of archaeological sites.

    (12) Wireless telecommunications facilities and ancillary improvements. A municipality may adopt bylaws to regulate wireless telecommunications facilities and ancillary improvements in a manner consistent with State or federal law. These bylaws may include requiring the decommissioning or dismantling of wireless telecommunications facilities and ancillary improvements, and may establish requirements that a bond be posted, or other security acceptable to the legislative body, in order to finance facility decommissioning or dismantling activities.

    (13)(A) Wastewater and potable water supply systems. A municipality may adopt bylaws that:

    (i) prohibit the initiation of construction under a zoning permit unless and until a wastewater and potable water supply permit is issued under 10 V.S.A. chapter 64; or

    (ii) establish an application process for a zoning or subdivision permit, under which an applicant may submit a permit application for municipal review, and the municipality may condition the issuance of a final permit upon issuance of a wastewater and potable water supply permit under 10 V.S.A. chapter 64.

    (B) For purposes of an appeal of a permit issued under a bylaw adopted under this subdivision (13), the appealable decision of the municipality shall be the issuance or denial of a final zoning or subdivision permit and not the requirement to condition issuance of a permit on issuance of a wastewater and potable water supply permit under 10 V.S.A. chapter 64.

    (14) Green development incentives. A municipality may encourage the use of low-embodied energy in construction materials, planned neighborhood developments that allow for reduced use of fuel for transportation, and increased use of renewable technology by providing for regulatory incentives, including increased densities and expedited review.

    (15) Solar plants; screening. Notwithstanding any contrary provision of sections 2291a and 4413 of this title or 30 V.S.A. chapter 5 or 89, a municipality may adopt a freestanding bylaw to establish screening requirements that shall apply to a ground-mounted plant that generates electricity from solar energy. In a proceeding under 30 V.S.A. § 248, the municipality may make recommendations to the Public Utility Commission applying the bylaw to such a plant. The bylaw may designate the municipal body to make this recommendation. Screening requirements and recommendations adopted under this subdivision shall be a condition of a certificate of public good issued for the plant under 30 V.S.A. § 248, provided that they do not prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting the installation of such a plant and do not have the effect of interfering with its intended functional use.

    (A) Screening requirements under this subdivision shall not be more restrictive than screening requirements applied to commercial development in the municipality under this chapter or, if the municipality does not have other bylaws except flood hazard, 10 V.S.A. chapter 151.

    (B) In this section, "plant" shall have the same meaning as in 30 V.S.A. § 8002 and "screening" means reasonable aesthetic mitigation measures to harmonize a facility with its surroundings and includes landscaping, vegetation, fencing, and topographic features.

    (C) This subdivision (15) shall not authorize requiring a municipal land use permit for a solar electric generation plant, and a municipal action under this subdivision shall not be subject to the provisions of subchapter 11 (appeals) of this chapter. Notwithstanding any contrary provision of this title, enforcement of a bylaw adopted under this subdivision shall be pursuant to the provisions of 30 V.S.A. § 30 applicable to violations of 30 V.S.A. § 248. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 95; amended 2005, No. 183 (Adj. Sess.), § 5; 2007, No. 32, § 4; 2007, No. 79, § 15; 2007, No. 32, § 4a, eff. May 18, 2007; 2007, No. 79, § 15a, eff. June 9, 2007; 2007, No. 209 (Adj. Sess.), § 11; 2009, No. 110 (Adj. Sess.), § 7; 2009, No. 145 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. June 1, 2010; 2013, No. 147 (Adj. Sess.), § 14, eff. June 1, 2014; 2015, No. 56, § 26d, eff. June 11, 2015.)

  • § 4415. Interim bylaws

    (a) If a municipality is conducting or has taken action to conduct studies, or has held or is holding a hearing for the purpose of considering a bylaw, a comprehensive plan, or an amendment, extension, or addition to a bylaw or plan, the legislative body may adopt interim bylaws regulating land development in all or a part of the municipality in order to protect the public health, safety, and general welfare and provide for orderly physical and economic growth. These interim bylaws shall be adopted, reenacted, extended, or amended by the legislative body of the municipality after public hearing upon public notice as an emergency measure. They shall be limited in duration to two years from the date they become effective and may be extended or reenacted only in accordance with subsections (f) and (g) of this section. An interim bylaw adopted under this section may be repealed after public hearing, upon public notice by the legislative body. The legislative body, upon petition of five percent of the legal voters filed with the clerk of the municipality, shall hold a public hearing for consideration of amendment or repeal of the interim bylaws.

    (b) An interim bylaw adopted, extended, or reenacted under this section may contain any provision authorized under this chapter.

    (c) Interim bylaws shall be administered and enforced in accordance with the provisions of this title applicable to the administration and enforcement of permanent bylaws, except that uses other than those permitted by an interim bylaw may be authorized as provided for in subsection (d) of this section.

    (d) Under interim bylaws, the legislative body may, upon application, authorize the issuance of permits for any type of land development as a conditional use not otherwise permitted by the bylaw after public hearing preceded by notice in accordance with section 4464 of this title. The authorization by the legislative body shall be granted only upon a finding by the body that the proposed use is consistent with the health, safety, and welfare of the municipality and the standards contained in subsection (e) of this section. The applicant and all abutting property owners shall be notified in writing of the date of the hearing and of the legislative body's final determination.

    (e) In making a determination, the legislative body shall consider the proposed use with respect to all the following:

    (1) The capacity of existing or planned community facilities, services, or lands.

    (2) The existing patterns and uses of development in the area.

    (3) Environmental limitations of the site or area and significant natural resource areas and sites.

    (4) Municipal plans and other municipal bylaws, ordinances, or regulations in effect.

    (f) The legislative body of the municipality may extend or reenact interim bylaws for a one-year period beyond the initial two-year period authorized by subsection (a) of this section in accordance with the procedures for adoption in that subsection.

    (g) A copy of the adopted, amended, reenacted, or extended interim bylaw shall be sent to adjoining towns, to the regional planning commission of the region in which the municipality is located, and to the agency of commerce and community development. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 95.)

  • § 4416. Site plan review

    (a) As prerequisite to the approval of any use other than one- and two-family dwellings, the approval of site plans by the appropriate municipal panel may be required, under procedures set forth in subchapter 10 of this chapter. In reviewing site plans, the appropriate municipal panel may impose, in accordance with the bylaws, appropriate conditions and safeguards with respect to: the adequacy of parking, traffic access, and circulation for pedestrians and vehicles; landscaping and screening; the protection of the utilization of renewable energy resources; exterior lighting; the size, location, and design of signs; and other matters specified in the bylaws. The bylaws shall specify the maps, data, and other information to be presented with applications for site plan approval and a review process pursuant to section 4464 of this title.

    (b) Whenever a proposed site plan involves access to a State highway, the application for site plan approval shall include a letter of intent from the Agency of Transportation confirming that the Agency has reviewed the proposed site plan and is prepared to issue an access permit under 19 V.S.A. § 1111, and setting out any conditions that the Agency proposes to attach to the section 1111 permit. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 95; amended 2013, No. 167 (Adj. Sess.), § 29.)

  • § 4417. Planned unit development

    (a) Any municipality adopting a bylaw should provide for planned unit developments to permit flexibility in the application of land development regulations for the purposes of section 4302 of this title and in conformance with the municipal plan. The following may be purposes for planned unit development bylaws:

    (1) To encourage compact, pedestrian-oriented development and redevelopment, and to promote a mix of residential uses or nonresidential uses, or both, especially in downtowns, village centers, new town centers, and associated neighborhoods.

    (2) To implement the policies of the municipal plan, such as the provision of affordable housing.

    (3) To encourage any development in the countryside to be compatible with the use and character of surrounding rural lands.

    (4) To provide for flexibility in site and lot layout, building design, placement and clustering of buildings, use of open areas, provision of circulation facilities, including pedestrian facilities and parking, and related site and design considerations that will best achieve the goals for the area as articulated in the municipal plan and bylaws within the particular character of the site and its surroundings.

    (5) To provide for the conservation of open space features recognized as worthy of conservation in the municipal plan and bylaws, such as the preservation of agricultural land, forest land, trails, and other recreational resources, critical and sensitive natural areas, scenic resources, and protection from natural hazards.

    (6) To provide for efficient use of public facilities and infrastructure.

    (7) To encourage and preserve opportunities for energy-efficient development and redevelopment.

    (b) The application of planned unit development bylaws to a proposed development may:

    (1) Involve single or multiple properties and one owner or multiple owners. Procedures for application and review of multiple owners or properties under a common application, if allowed, shall be specified in the bylaws.

    (2) Be limited to parcels that have a minimum area specified in the bylaws or a minimum size or number of units.

    (3) Be mandatory for land located in specified zoning districts or for projects of a specified type or magnitude as provided in the bylaws.

    (c) Planned unit development bylaws adopted pursuant to this section at a minimum shall include the following provisions:

    (1) A statement of purpose in conformance with the purposes of the municipal plan and bylaws.

    (2) The development review process to be used for review of planned unit developments to include conditional use or subdivision review procedures, or both, as specified in the bylaws.

    (3) Specifications, or reference to specifications, for all application documents and plan drawings.

    (4) Standards for the review of proposed planned unit developments, which may vary the density or intensity of land use otherwise applicable under the provisions of the bylaws in consideration of and with respect to any of the following:

    (A) The location and physical characteristics of the proposed planned unit development.

    (B) The location, design, type, and use of the lots and structures proposed.

    (C) The amount, location, and proposed use of open space.

    (5) Standards requiring related public improvements or nonpublic improvements, or both; and the payment of impact fees, incorporating by reference any development impact fee ordinance adopted pursuant to chapter 131 of this title.

    (6) Provisions for the proposed planned unit development to be completed in reasonable phases, in accordance with the municipal plan and any capital budget and program.

    (7) Provisions for coordinating the planned unit development review with other applicable zoning or subdivision review processes, specifying the sequence in which the various review standards will be considered.

    (8) Reviews that are conducted in accordance with the procedures in subchapter 10 of this chapter.

    (d) Planned unit development bylaws may provide for, as part of the standards described in subdivisions (c)(4) and (c)(5) of this section, the authorization of uses, densities, and intensities that do not correspond with or are not otherwise expressly permitted by the bylaws for the area in which a planned unit development is located, provided that the municipal plan contains a policy that encourages mixed use development, development at higher overall densities or intensities, or both.

    (e) Standards for the reservation or dedication of common land or other open space for the use or benefit of the residents of the proposed planned unit development shall include provisions for determining the amount and location of that common land or open space, and for ensuring its improvement and maintenance.

    (1) The bylaws may provide that the municipality may, at any time, accept the dedication of land or any interest in land for public use and maintenance.

    (2) The bylaws may require that the applicant or landowner provide for and establish an organization or trust for the ownership and maintenance of any common facilities or open space, and that this organization or trust shall not be dissolved or revoked nor shall it dispose of any common open space, by sale or otherwise, except to an organization or trust conceived and established to own and maintain the common open space, without first offering to dedicate the same to the municipality or other governmental agency to maintain those common facilities or that open space.

    (f) The approval of a proposed planned unit development shall be based on findings by the appropriate municipal panel that the proposed planned unit development is in conformance with the municipal plan and satisfies other requirements of the bylaws.

    (g) The appropriate municipal panel may prescribe, from time to time, rules and regulations to supplement the standards and conditions set forth in the zoning bylaws, provided the rules and regulations are not inconsistent with any municipal bylaw. The panel shall hold a public hearing after public notice, as required by section 4464 of this title, prior to the enactment of any supplementary rules and regulations. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 95.)

  • § 4418. Subdivision bylaws

    In order to guide community settlement patterns and to ensure the efficient extension of services, utilities, and facilities as land is developed, a municipality may regulate the division of a lot or parcel of land into two or more lots or other division of land for sale, development, or lease. Subdivision bylaws shall establish standards and procedures for approval, modification, or disapproval of plats of land and approval or modification of plats previously filed in the office of the municipal clerk or land records.

    (1) Subdivision bylaws shall be administered in accordance with the requirements of subchapter 10 of this chapter, and shall contain:

    (A) Procedures and requirements for the design, submission, and processing of plats, any drawing and plans, and any other documentation required for review of subdivisions.

    (B) Standards for the design and layout of streets, sidewalks, curbs, gutters, streetlights, fire hydrants, landscaping, water, sewage and stormwater management facilities, public and private utilities, and other necessary improvements as may be specified in a municipal plan. Standards in accordance with subdivision 4412(3) of this title shall be required for lots without frontage on or access to public roads or public waters.

    (C) Standards for the design and configuration of parcel boundaries and location of associated improvements necessary to implement the municipal plan and achieve the desired settlement pattern for the neighborhood, area, or district in which the subdivision is located.

    (D) Standards for the protection of natural resources and cultural features and the preservation of open space, as appropriate in the municipality.

    (2) Subdivision bylaws may include:

    (A) Provisions allowing the appropriate municipal panel to waive or modify, subject to appropriate conditions, the provision of any or all improvements and requirements as in its judgment of the special circumstances of a particular plat or plats are not requisite in the interest of the public health, safety, and general welfare, or are inappropriate because of inadequacy or lack of connecting facilities adjacent or in proximity to the subdivision.

    (B) Procedures for conceptual, preliminary, partial, and other reviews preceding submission of a subdivision plat, including any administrative reviews.

    (C) Specific development standards to promote the conservation of energy or to permit the utilization of renewable energy resources, or both.

    (D) State standards and criteria under 10 V.S.A. § 6086(a). (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 95.)

  • § 4419. Unified development bylaws

    (a) Any bylaws authorized under this chapter may be integrated into a unified land development bylaw that combines the separate requirements into a consolidated review and permitting process. At a minimum, unified development bylaws shall consolidate zoning and subdivision bylaws. Unified development bylaws should incorporate other bylaws in conformance with this chapter and should cross reference all ordinances adopted by a municipality pursuant to authority outside this chapter that affect land development. Unified development bylaws shall provide for an orderly permitting process for all applicable regulations, in accordance with subchapters 10 and 11 of this chapter.

    (b) Any municipality that has adopted unified development bylaws in conformance with the requirements of sections 4410, 4411, 4412, 4413, and 4417 of this title shall be deemed to have adopted permanent zoning and subdivision regulations in accordance with 10 V.S.A. § 6001(3). (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 95.)

  • § 4420. Local act 250 review of municipal impacts

    (a) This section shall apply to any municipality in which all of the following have taken place, either at the direction of the legislative body or pursuant to a vote of the municipality's voters at a duly warned municipal meeting considering the question:

    (1) The criteria specified in this section have been adopted in the appropriate bylaws authorized under this chapter.

    (2) The municipality's plan has been duly adopted under the provisions of this chapter.

    (3) The municipality has adopted zoning bylaws and subdivision bylaws, either separately or incorporated into one unified development bylaw.

    (4) The municipality has adopted, for purposes of this section, the municipal administrative procedure act established in chapter 36 of this title.

    (5) A development review board has been created and has been authorized to undertake local Act 250 review of municipal impacts caused by a development or subdivision, or both, as the terms "development" and "subdivision" are defined in 10 V.S.A. chapter 151.

    (b)(1) With respect to developments or subdivisions to which this section applies, the development review board, pursuant to the procedures established in chapter 36 of this title, shall hear such applications as meet the criteria set forth in the bylaws with respect to size or impact, or both, for local Act 250 review of municipal impacts. Once a municipality has determined to conduct reviews under this section, all applicants meeting such criteria for Act 250 permits for developments or subdivisions located within the municipality shall go through this process, unless all the following apply:

    (A) The applicant can establish to the satisfaction of the development review board that the applicant relied on a determination by the natural resource board's local district coordinator that Act 250 jurisdiction did not apply to the development or subdivision in question, and based upon that reliance, the applicant obtained local permits without complying with this section.

    (B) The natural resource board's local district coordinator's jurisdictional ruling was later reconsidered or overturned on appeal, with the result that Act 250 jurisdiction does apply to the development or subdivision in question.

    (C) The development review board waives its jurisdiction under this section in the interest of fairness to the applicant.

    (2) Determinations by the development review board regarding whether to waive jurisdiction under this subsection shall not be subject to review.

    (c) In proceedings under this section, the applicant shall demonstrate that the proposed development or subdivision:

    (1) Will not cause an unreasonable burden on the ability of the municipality to provide educational services.

    (2) Will not cause an unreasonable burden on the ability of the municipality to provide municipal or governmental services.

    (3) Is in conformance with the plan of the municipality adopted in accordance with this chapter.

    (d) A violation of the provisions of this section shall be subject to enforcement as a violation of this chapter. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 95.)

  • § 4421. Official map

    A municipality may adopt an official map that identifies future municipal utility and facility improvements, such as road or recreational path rights-of-way, parkland, utility rights-of-way, and other public improvements, in order to provide the opportunity for the community to acquire land identified for public improvements prior to development for other use and to identify the locations of required public facilities for new subdivisions and other development under review by the municipality.

    (1) Preparation of an official map. For the purposes of this chapter, the official map shall be based upon the most accurate data available as to the location and width of existing and proposed streets and drainageways and the location of all existing and proposed parks, schools, and other public facilities. Where questions arise in the administration of this section that require more precise determinations of the location of any street right-of-way line on all drainageways or the location of any park, school, or any other public facility, the legislative body shall have a survey prepared of the street or section, park, school, or other public facility in question, that may by resolution of the legislative body become a part of the official map.

    (2) Changes to the official map. After adoption of the official map, the recordation of plats that have been approved as provided by this chapter, or the adoption of any urban renewal plan under chapter 85 of this title, shall, without further action, modify the official map accordingly. Minor changes in the location of proposed public facilities may also be made to particular sections of the official map if the change is recommended by a majority of the planning commission and approved by resolution of the legislative body. This process may take place concurrently with review of development or subdivision of a parcel that is proposed to be subject to a map change.

    (3) Status of mapped public facilities. The adoption, as part of an official map, of any existing or proposed street or street line or drainageway, or any proposed park, school, or other public facility, shall not constitute a taking or acceptance of land by the municipality, nor shall the adoption of any street in an official map constitute the opening or establishment of the street for public use or obligate the municipality in any way for the maintenance of the street.

    (4) Building on properties with mapped public facilities. No zoning permit may be issued for any land development within the lines of any street, drainageway, park, school, or other public facility shown on the official map, except as specifically provided in this section. No person shall recover any damages for the taking for public use of any land development constructed within the lines of any proposed street, drainageway, park, school, or other public facility after it has been included in the official map, and any such land development shall be removed at the expense of the owner.

    (A) If a permit for any land development within the lines of any proposed street, drainageway, park, school, or other public facility shown on an official map is denied pursuant to subdivision (5) of this section, the legislative body shall have 120 days from the date of the denial of the permit to institute proceedings to acquire that land or interest in that land, and if no such proceedings are started within that time, the administrative officer shall issue the permit if the application otherwise conforms to all the applicable bylaws.

    (B) A municipality may specify in its bylaws that conditional use review is required for any structure within the line of any public facility shown on the official map or within a specified area adjacent to the lines on the map. If conditional use review is required for these structures, the purpose of the review shall be to ensure that the structure is compatible with the location and function of existing and planned public facilities. If the conditional use is denied, the procedure provided in subdivision (4)(A) of this section shall be instituted.

    (5) Development review for properties with mapped public facilities. Any application for subdivision or other development review that involves property on which the official map shows a public facility shall demonstrate that the mapped public facility will be accommodated by the proposed subdivision or development in accordance with the municipality's bylaws. Failure to accommodate the mapped public facility or obtain a minor change in the official map shall result in the denial of the development or subdivision. The legislative body shall have 120 days from the date of the denial of the permit to institute proceedings to acquire that land or interest in land, and if these proceedings are not started within that time, the appropriate municipal panel shall review the application without regard to the proposed public facilities. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 95.)

  • § 4422. Adequate public facilities; phasing

    Development may be phased or limited under a bylaw to avoid or mitigate any undue adverse impact on existing or planned community facilities or services. Where a capital budget and program has been adopted, the bylaw may limit or phase development based on the timing of construction or implementation of related necessary public facilities and services, in conformance with an adopted capital budget and program. A municipality also may levy impact fees in accordance with chapter 131 of this title. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 95.)

  • § 4423. Transfer of development rights

    (a) In order to accomplish the purposes of 10 V.S.A. § 6301, bylaws may contain provisions for the transfer of development rights. The bylaws shall do all the following:

    (1) Specify one or more sending areas for which development rights may be acquired.

    (2) Specify one or more receiving areas in which those development rights may be used.

    (3) Define the amount of the density increase allowable in receiving areas, and the quantity of development rights necessary to obtain those increases.

    (4) Define "density increase" in terms of an allowable percentage decrease in lot size or increase in building bulk, lot coverage, or ratio of floor area to lot size, or any combination.

    (5) Define "development rights," which at minimum shall include a conservation easement, created by deed for a specified period of not less than 30 years, granted to the municipality under 10 V.S.A. chapter 155, limiting land uses in the sending area solely to specified purposes, but including, at a minimum, agriculture and forestry.

    (b) Upon approval by the appropriate municipal panel, a zoning permit may be granted for land development based in part upon a density increase, provided there is compliance with all the following:

    (1) The area subject to the application is a receiving area, and the density increase is allowed by the provisions relating to transfer of development rights.

    (2) The applicant has obtained development rights from a sending area that are sufficient under the regulations for the density increase sought.

    (3) The development rights are evidenced by a deed that recites that it is a conveyance under this subdivision and recites the number of acres affected in the sending area.

    (4) The sending area from which development rights have been severed has been surveyed and suitably monumented.

    (c) The municipality shall maintain a map of areas from which development rights have been severed. Following issuance of a zoning permit under this section, the municipality shall effect all the following:

    (1) Ensure that the instruments transferring the conservation easements and the development rights are recorded.

    (2) Mark the development rights map showing the area from which development rights have been severed and indicating the book and page in the land records where the easement is recorded.

    (d) Failure to record an instrument or mark a map does not invalidate a transfer of development rights. Development rights transferred under this section shall be valid notwithstanding any subsequent failure to file a notice of claim under the marketable record title act. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 95.)

  • § 4424. Shorelands; river corridor protection areas; flood or hazard area; special or freestanding bylaws

    (a) Bylaws; flood and other hazard areas; river corridor protection. Any municipality may adopt freestanding bylaws under this chapter to address particular hazard areas in conformance with the municipal plan or, for the purpose of adoption of a flood hazard area bylaw, a local hazard mitigation plan approved under 44 C.F.R. § 201.6. Such freestanding bylaws may include the following, which may also be part of zoning or unified development bylaws:

    (1) Bylaws to regulate development and use along shorelands.

    (2) Bylaws to regulate development and use in flood areas, river corridor protection areas, or other hazard areas. The following shall apply if flood or other hazard area bylaws are enacted:

    (A) Purposes.

    (i) To minimize and prevent the loss of life and property, the disruption of commerce, the impairment of the tax base, and the extraordinary public expenditures and demands on public service that result from flooding, landslides, erosion hazards, earthquakes, and other natural or human-made hazards.

    (ii) To ensure that the design and construction of development in flood, river corridor protection, and other hazard areas are accomplished in a manner that minimizes or eliminates the potential for flood and loss or damage to life and property in a flood hazard area or that minimizes the potential for fluvial erosion and loss or damage to life and property in a river corridor protection area.

    (iii) To manage all flood hazard areas designated pursuant to 10 V.S.A. § 753.

    (iv) To make the State and municipalities eligible for federal flood insurance and other federal disaster recovery and hazard mitigation funds as may be available.

    (B) Contents of bylaws. Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, flood, river corridor protection area, and other hazard area bylaws may:

    (i) Contain standards and criteria that prohibit the placement of damaging obstructions or structures, the use and storage of hazardous or radioactive materials, and practices that are known to further exacerbate hazardous or unstable natural conditions.

    (ii) Require flood, fluvial erosion, and hazard protection through elevation, floodproofing, disaster preparedness, hazard mitigation, relocation, or other techniques.

    (iii) Require adequate provisions for flood drainage and other emergency measures.

    (iv) Require provision of adequate and disaster-resistant water and wastewater facilities.

    (v) Establish other restrictions to promote the sound management and use of designated flood, river corridor protection, and other hazard areas.

    (vi) Regulate all land development in a flood hazard area, river corridor protection area, or other hazard area, except for development that is regulated under 10 V.S.A. § 754.

    (C) Effect on zoning bylaws. Flood or other hazard area bylaws may alter the uses otherwise permitted, prohibited, or conditional in a flood or other hazard area under a bylaw, as well as the applicability of other provisions of that bylaw. Where a flood hazard bylaw, a hazard area bylaw, or both apply along with any other bylaw, compliance with the flood or other hazard area bylaw shall be prerequisite to the granting of a zoning permit. Where a flood hazard area bylaw or a hazard area bylaw but not a zoning bylaw applies, the flood hazard and other hazard area bylaw shall be administered in the same manner as are zoning bylaws, and a flood hazard area or hazard area permit shall be required for land development covered under the bylaw.

    (D)(i) Mandatory provisions. Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, all flood and other hazard area bylaws shall provide that no permit for new construction or substantial improvement shall be granted for a flood or other hazard area until after both the following:

    (I) A copy of the application is mailed or delivered by the administrative officer or by the appropriate municipal panel to the Agency of Natural Resources or its designee.

    (II) Either 30 days have elapsed following the mailing or the Agency or its designee delivers comments on the application.

    (ii) The Agency of Natural Resources may delegate to a qualified representative of a municipality with a flood hazard area bylaw or ordinance or to a qualified representative for a regional planning commission the Agency's authority under this subdivision (a)(2)(D) to review and provide technical comments on a proposed permit for new construction or substantial improvement in a flood hazard area. Comments provided by a representative delegated under this subdivision (a)(2)(D) shall not be binding on a municipality.

    (b) Ordinances. A municipality may adopt a flood hazard area, river corridor protection area, or other hazard area regulation that meets the requirements of this section by ordinance under subdivision 2291(25) of this title.

    (c) Permit; planting projects.

    (1) As used in this subsection, "planting project" means planting vegetation to restore natural and beneficial floodplain functions, as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 4121(a), that include floodwater storage, water quality improvement, and supporting riparian and aquatic habitat.

    (2) By operation of this subsection, a planting project in a flood or other hazard area or river corridor protection area is considered to have a permit under this chapter unless the project is:

    (A) part of a larger undertaking that includes the construction or installation of structures, the creation of earthen berms or banks, or physical disturbance of land or water other than necessary for planting vegetation; or

    (B) a forestry operation or part of a forestry operation as defined in 10 V.S.A. § 2602 and exempt from municipal regulation under subsection 4413(d) of this title.

    (3) Notwithstanding any contrary provision of this chapter or municipal bylaw or ordinance, a planting project considered to have a permit by operation of this subsection shall not be required to file an application to obtain a permit under this chapter or approval under a municipal ordinance or to obtain the issuance of such a permit or approval by the municipality. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 95; amended 2011, No. 138 (Adj. Sess.), § 13, eff. May 14, 2012; 2013, No. 34, § 15; 2017, No. 4, § 1, eff. March 6, 2017.)

  • §§ 4425, 4426. Repealed. 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 119(c).

  • § 4427. Persons eligible to apply for permits

    Municipalities and solid waste management districts empowered to condemn property or an interest in property may apply for any permit required by any zoning regulation adopted under this chapter. (Added 1991, No. 109, § 5, eff. June 28, 1991.)


  • Subchapter 008: NONREGULATORY IMPLEMENTATION OF THE MUNICIPAL PLAN
  • § 4430. Capital budget and program

    (a) A capital budget shall list and describe the capital projects to be undertaken during the coming fiscal year, the estimated cost of those projects, and the proposed method of financing. A capital program is a plan of capital projects proposed to be undertaken during each of the following five years, the estimated cost of those projects, and the proposed method of financing. A capital project is any one or more of the following:

    (1) Any physical betterment or improvement, including furnishings, machinery, apparatus, or equipment for that physical betterment or improvement when first constructed or acquired.

    (2) Any preliminary studies and surveys relating to any physical betterment or improvement.

    (3) Land or rights in land.

    (4) Any combination of subdivisions (1), (2), and (3) of this subsection.

    (b) The capital budget and program shall be arranged to indicate the order of priority of each capital project and to state for each project all the following:

    (1) A description of the proposed project and the estimated total cost of the project.

    (2) The proposed method of financing, indicating the amount proposed to be financed by direct budgetary appropriation or duly established reserve funds; the amount, if any, estimated to be received from the federal or state governments; the amount, if any, to be financed by impact fees; and the amount to be financed by the issuance of obligations, showing the proposed type or types of obligations, together with the period of probable usefulness for which they are proposed to be issued.

    (3) An estimate of the effect, if any, upon operating costs of the municipality.

    (c) The planning commission may submit recommendations annually to the legislative body for the capital budget and program, that shall be in conformance with the municipal plan. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 97.)

  • § 4431. Purchase or acceptance of development rights

    A municipality may develop a program for purchase or acceptance of development rights and stewardship of those rights for the purposes set forth in section 4302 of this title and in conformance with the plan. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 97.)

  • § 4432. Supporting plans

    A municipality may adopt a plan or plans that support the municipal plan and may incorporate such supporting plan or plans into the municipal plan in the same manner as adoption of the municipal plan set forth in section 4385 of this title. In this event, the supporting plan shall become a part of the municipal plan. Supporting plans may include:

    (1) Access management plan. A municipality may adopt an access management plan to manage traffic and access onto public roads from adjacent property in a manner that complies with 19 V.S.A. § 1111.

    (2) Downtown, village center, or new town center plan. A municipality may adopt a plan for the development and revitalization of its downtown, villages, or a new town center, consistent with the purposes set forth in section 2790 of this title.

    (3) Open space plan. A municipality may adopt a plan to guide public and private conservation strategies. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 97.)

  • § 4433. Advisory commissions and committees

    Municipalities may at any time create one or more advisory commissions, which for the purposes of this chapter include committees, or a combination of advisory commissions to assist the legislative body or the planning commission in preparing, adopting, and implementing the municipal plan. Advisory commissions authorized under this section and under chapter 118 of this title may advise appropriate municipal panels, applicants, and interested parties in accordance with the procedures established under section 4464 of this title.

    (1) Creation of an advisory commission. Advisory commissions not authorized in chapter 118 of this title shall be created as follows:

    (A) An advisory commission may be created at any time when a municipality votes to create one, or through adoption of bylaws, or when the legislative body of the municipality votes to create one.

    (B) An advisory commission shall have no fewer than three members. All members should be residents of the municipality, except that historic preservation or design advisory commissions may be composed of professional and lay members, a majority of whom shall reside within the municipality creating the commission.

    (C) Members of the advisory commission shall be appointed, and any vacancy filled, by the legislative body of the municipality. The term of each member shall be as established by the legislative body, except for those first appointed, whose terms shall be varied in length so that in the future the number whose terms expire in each successive year shall be minimized. Any appointment to fill a vacancy shall be for the unexpired term.

    (D) Any member of an advisory commission may be removed at any time for just cause by vote of the legislative body, for reasons given to the member in writing, and after a public hearing on the issue if the member so requests.

    (2) Procedures for advisory commissions. Advisory commissions not authorized in chapter 118 of this title shall establish the following procedures:

    (A) At its organizational meeting, an advisory commission shall adopt by majority vote of those present and voting such rules as it deems necessary and appropriate for the performance of its functions. It shall annually elect a chair and a clerk.

    (B) Times and places of meetings of an advisory commission shall be publicly posted in the municipality, and its meetings shall be open to the public in accordance with the terms of the open meeting law set forth in 1 V.S.A. chapter 5, subchapter 2.

    (C) The advisory commission shall keep a record of its transactions that shall be filed with the town clerk as a public record of the municipality.

    (D) The advisory commission shall comply with ethical policies or ordinances as adopted by the town.

    (3) Duties and powers of historic preservation commissions. In addition to the requirements set forth in subdivision (2) of this section, all historic preservation commissions shall comply with all the following:

    (A) To the extent possible, have among their members professionals in the fields of historic preservation, history, architecture, archaeology, and related disciplines.

    (B) Meet no fewer than four times each year and maintain an attendance rule for commission members.

    (C) Have responsibilities set forth in a written document approved by a majority vote of the local legislative body at a regular or special meeting that may include:

    (i) Preparation of reports and recommendations on standards for the planning commission in creating a local historic district bylaw under this chapter.

    (ii) Advising and assisting the legislative body, planning commission, and other entities on matters related to historic preservation.

    (iii) Advising the appropriate municipal panel and administrative officer in development review and enforcement pursuant to subdivision 4414(1)(F) and section 4464 of this title.

    (iv) If provided in the bylaw, advising and assisting the legislative body, appropriate municipal panel, and administrative officer in creating and administering a design review district or downtown or village center district pursuant to subdivision 4414(1)(A) or (E) of this title.

    (v) If provided in a bylaw developed in cooperation with the Division for Historic Preservation, those procedural and advisory powers required of a Certified Local Government under the National Historic Preservation Act.

    (4) Powers and duties of design review commissions. In addition to the requirements set forth in subdivision (2) of this section, all design review commissions shall:

    (A) To the extent possible, have among their members professionals in the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, historic preservation, and related disciplines.

    (B) Have responsibilities identified by the legislative body that may include:

    (i) Preparation of reports and standards for the planning commission in creating a design review district bylaw under this chapter.

    (ii) Advising and assisting the legislative body, planning commission, and other entities on design-related matters in the creation of plans and bylaws and planning for public improvements.

    (iii) Advising appropriate municipal panels and the administrative officer in development review and enforcement pursuant to subdivisions 4414(1)(E) and (F) and section 4464 of this title.

    (5) Powers and duties of housing commissions. In addition to the requirements set forth in subdivision (2) of this section, housing commissions may have responsibilities identified by the local legislative body that include:

    (A) Making an inventory of the current stock of housing units in the municipality and identify any gaps in the housing stock according to household incomes or special needs of the community. The inventory may include documentation of the affordable housing cost index for an average citizen of the municipality, the average cost of rental units and vacancy rates, and the annual average sales price of homes.

    (B) Reviewing the zoning ordinances, subdivision bylaws, building codes, and the development review process of the municipality, make recommendations to facilitate the development of affordable housing in the municipality, and promote bylaws that increase densities for the purpose of providing affordable housing.

    (C) Assisting the local appropriate municipal panels pursuant to section 4464 of this title and the District Environmental Commission by providing advisory testimony on the housing needs of the municipality, where pertinent to applications made to those bodies, for permits for development.

    (D) Cooperating with the local legislative body, planning commission, zoning board of adjustment, road committee, or other municipal or private organizations on matters affecting housing resources of the municipality. This may include working with the municipality on a wastewater and water allocation policy that reserves a percentage of the capacity for future affordable housing.

    (E) Collaborating with not-for-profit housing organizations, government agencies, developers, and builders in pursuing options to meet the housing needs of the local residents. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 97; amended 2013, No. 162 (Adj. Sess.), § 8.)


  • Subchapter 009: ADOPTION, ADMINISTRATION, AND ENFORCEMENT
  • § 4440. Administration; finance

    (a) Appropriations may be made by any municipality to finance the work of planning commissions, regional planning commissions, administrative officers, appropriate municipal panels, and other officials in the preparation, adoption, administration, and enforcement of development plans and supporting plans, bylaws, capital budgets and programs, and other regulatory and nonregulatory efforts to implement the municipal plan, and to support or oppose, upon appeal to the courts, decisions of an appropriate municipal panel. For these same purposes, any municipality may accept gifts and grants of money and services from private sources and from the state and federal governments.

    (b) The legislative body may prescribe reasonable fees to be charged with respect to the administration of bylaws and for the administration of development review. These fees may include the cost of posting and publishing notices and holding public hearings and the cost of conducting periodic inspections during the installation of public improvements. These fees may be required to be payable by the applicant upon submission of the application or prior to issuance of permits or certificates of occupancy.

    (c) The legislative body may set reasonable fees for filing of notices of appeal and for other acts as it deems proper, the payment of which shall be a condition to the validity of the filing or act under this chapter.

    (d) The legislative body may establish procedures and standards for requiring an applicant to pay for reasonable costs of an independent technical review of the application. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 99.)

  • § 4441. Preparation of bylaws and regulatory tools; amendment or repeal

    (a) A municipality may have one or more bylaws. Any bylaw for a municipality shall be prepared by or at the direction of the planning commission of the municipality and shall have the purpose of implementing the plan. An amendment or repeal of a bylaw may be prepared by the planning commission or by any other person or body.

    (b) A proposed amendment or repeal prepared by a person or body other than the planning commission shall be submitted in writing along with any supporting documents to the planning commission. The planning commission may then proceed under this subchapter as if the amendment or repeal had been prepared by the commission. However, if the proposed amendment or repeal of a bylaw is supported by a petition signed by not less than five percent of the voters of the municipality, the commission shall correct any technical deficiency and shall, without otherwise changing the amendment or repeal, promptly proceed in accordance with subsections (c) through (g) of this section, as if it had been prepared by the commission.

    (c) When considering an amendment to a bylaw, the planning commission shall prepare and approve a written report on the proposal. A single report may be prepared so as to satisfy the requirements of this subsection concerning bylaw amendments and subsection 4384(c) of this title concerning plan amendments. The department of housing and community affairs shall provide all municipalities with a form for this report. The report shall provide a brief explanation of the proposed bylaw, amendment, or repeal and shall include a statement of purpose as required for notice under section 4444 of this title, and shall include findings regarding how the proposal:

    (1) Conforms with or furthers the goals and policies contained in the municipal plan, including the effect of the proposal on the availability of safe and affordable housing.

    (2) Is compatible with the proposed future land uses and densities of the municipal plan.

    (3) Carries out, as applicable, any specific proposals for any planned community facilities.

    (d) The planning commission shall hold at least one public hearing within the municipality after public notice on any proposed bylaw, amendment, or repeal.

    (e) At least 15 days prior to the first hearing, a copy of the proposed bylaw, amendment, or repeal and the written report shall be delivered with proof of receipt, or mailed by certified mail, return receipt requested, to each of the following:

    (1) The chairperson of the planning commission of each abutting municipality, or in the absence of any planning commission in a municipality, the clerk of that abutting municipality.

    (2) The executive director of the regional planning commission of the area in which the municipality is located.

    (3) The department of housing and community affairs within the agency of commerce and community development.

    (f) Any of the bodies identified in subsection (e) of this section, or their representatives, may submit comments on the proposed bylaw, amendment, or repeal to the planning commission, or may appear and be heard in any proceeding with respect to the adoption of the proposed bylaw, amendment, or repeal.

    (g) The planning commission may make revisions to a proposed bylaw, amendment, or repeal and to the written report, and shall then submit the proposed bylaw, amendment, or repeal and the written report to the legislative body of the municipality. However, if requested by the legislative body or if a proposed amendment was supported by a petition signed by not less than five percent of the voters of the municipality, the planning commission shall promptly submit the amendment, with changes only to correct technical deficiencies, to the legislative body of the municipality, together with any recommendation or opinion it considers appropriate. Simultaneously with the submission, the planning commission shall file with the clerk of the municipality a copy of the proposed bylaw, amendment, or repeal, and the written report for public review. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 100.)

  • § 4442. Adoption of bylaws and related regulatory tools; amendment or repeal

    (a) Public hearings. Not less than 15 nor more than 120 days after a proposed bylaw, amendment, or repeal is submitted to the legislative body of a municipality under section 4441 of this title, the legislative body shall hold the first of one or more public hearings, after public notice, on the proposed bylaw, amendment, or repeal, and shall make copies of the proposal and the written report of the planning commission available to the public upon request. Failure to hold a hearing within the 120 days shall not invalidate the adoption of the bylaw or amendment or the validity of any repeal.

    (b) Amendment of proposal. The legislative body may make minor changes to the proposed bylaw, amendment, or repeal, but shall not do so less than 14 days prior to the final public hearing. If the legislative body at any time makes substantial changes in the concept, meaning, or extent of the proposed bylaw, amendment, or repeal, it shall warn a new public hearing or hearings under subsection (a) of this section. If any part of the proposal is changed, the legislative body at least 10 days prior to the hearing shall file a copy of the changed proposal with the clerk of the municipality and with the planning commission. The planning commission shall amend the report prepared pursuant to subsection 4441(c) of this title to reflect the changes made by the legislative body and shall submit that amended report to the legislative body at or prior to the public hearing.

    (c) Routine adoption.

    (1) A bylaw, bylaw amendment, or bylaw repeal shall be adopted by a majority of the members of the legislative body at a meeting that is held after the final public hearing, and shall be effective 21 days after adoption unless, by action of the legislative body, the bylaw, bylaw amendment, or bylaw repeal is warned for adoption by the municipality by Australian ballot at a special or regular meeting of the municipality.

    (2) However, a rural town as defined in section 4303 of this chapter, by vote of that town at a special or regular meeting duly warned on the issue, may elect to require that bylaws, bylaw amendments, or bylaw repeals shall be adopted by vote of the town by Australian ballot at a special or regular meeting duly warned on the issue. That procedure shall then apply until rescinded by the voters at a regular or special meeting of the town.

    (d) Petition for popular vote. Notwithstanding subdivision (c)(1) of this section, a vote by the legislative body on a bylaw, amendment, or repeal shall not take effect if five percent of the voters of the municipality petition for a meeting of the municipality to consider the bylaw, amendment, or repeal, and the petition is filed within 20 days of the vote. In that case, a meeting of the municipality shall be duly warned for the purpose of acting by Australian ballot upon the bylaw, amendment, or repeal.

    (e) Multipurpose hearings. Nothing contained in this chapter shall be construed to prohibit any public hearing held under this chapter to be held for more than one purpose under this chapter. A municipality may prepare and adopt a plan, one or more bylaws, and a capital budget and program in the same proceedings. However, all the provisions of this chapter applicable to each purpose of the hearing shall be complied with.

    (f) Unorganized towns and gores. A bylaw, amendment, or repeal of a bylaw of an unorganized town or gore shall be adopted by a majority of votes cast at a meeting of the regional planning commission in which the unorganized town or gore is located at which a quorum is present. However, a bylaw, amendment, or repeal of a bylaw of the unified towns and gores of Essex County, namely Averill, Avery's Gore, Ferdinand, Lewis, Warner's Grant, and Warren's Gore, shall be adopted by the board of governors.

    (g) Time for action. If the proposed bylaw, amendment, or repeal is not approved or rejected under subsection (c) of this section within one year of the date of the final hearing of the planning commission, it shall be considered disapproved unless five percent of the voters of the municipality petition for a meeting of the municipality to consider the bylaw, amendment, or repeal, and the petition is filed within 60 days of the end of that year. In that case, a meeting of the municipality shall be duly warned for the purpose of acting upon the bylaw, amendment, or repeal by Australian ballot. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 100; amended 2005, No. 30, § 2; 2005, No. 105 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. April 5, 2006; 2007, No. 121 (Adj. Sess.), § 20; 2011, No. 155 (Adj. Sess.), § 15.)

  • § 4443. Adoption, amendment, or repeal of capital budget and program

    (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, a capital budget and program may be adopted, amended, or repealed by the legislative body of a municipality following one or more public hearings, upon public notice, if a utility and facilities plan as described in subdivision 4382(a)(4) of this title has been adopted by the legislative body in accordance with sections 4384 and 4385 of this title. A copy of the proposed capital budget and program shall be filed at least 15 days prior to the final public hearing with the clerk of the municipality and the secretary of the planning commission. The planning commission may submit a report on the proposal to the legislative body prior to the public hearing.

    (b) The capital budget and program, or its amendment or repeal, shall be adopted or rejected by an act of the legislative body of a municipality promptly after the final public hearing held under subsection (a) of this section. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 100.)

  • § 4444. Public hearing notice for adoption, amendment, or repeal of bylaw and other regulatory tools

    (a) Any public notice required for public hearing under this subchapter shall be given not less than 15 days prior to the date of the public hearing by:

    (1) the publication of the date, place, and purpose of the hearing in a newspaper of general circulation in the municipality affected;

    (2) the posting of the same information in three or more public places within the municipality in conformance with location requirements of 1 V.S.A. § 312(c)(2); and

    (3) compliance with subsection (b) or (c) of this section.

    (b) A municipality may complete public notice commenced under subsection (a) of this section by publishing and posting the full text of the proposed material or by publishing and posting the following:

    (1) A statement of purpose.

    (2) A map or description of the geographic areas affected.

    (3) A table of contents or list of section headings.

    (4) A description of a place within the municipality where the full text may be examined.

    (c) As an alternative to the publication and posting provisions established under subsection (b) of this section, a municipality may make reasonable effort to mail or deliver copies of the full text or the material specified in subdivisions (b)(1) through (4), together with the public hearing notice of the proposed material and the public hearing notice to each voter, as evidenced by the voter checklist of the municipality, and to each owner of land within the municipality, as evidenced by the grand list of the municipality.

    (d) No defect in the form or substance of any public hearing notice under this chapter shall invalidate the adoption, amendment, or repeal of any plan, bylaw, or capital budget and program. However, the action shall be invalidated if the notice is materially misleading in content or fails to include one of the elements required by subsection (b) of this section or if the defect was the result of a deliberate or intentional act. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 100.)

  • § 4445. Availability and distribution of documents

    Current copies of plans, bylaws, and capital budgets and programs shall be available to the public during normal business hours in the office of the clerk of any municipality in which those plans, bylaws, or capital budgets or programs have been adopted. The municipality shall provide all final adopted bylaws, amendments, or repeals to the regional planning commission of the area in which the municipality is located and to the department of housing and community affairs. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 100.)

  • § 4445a. Repealed. 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 119(c).

  • § 4446. Bylaws; effect of adoption

    Within the jurisdiction of any municipality that has adopted any of the bylaws authorized by this chapter, no land development may be undertaken or effected except in conformance with those bylaws. Bylaws authorized by this chapter may specify for exclusion from review any land development determined to impose no impact or merely a de minimus impact on the surrounding area and the overall pattern of land development. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 100.)

  • § 4447. Clerk's certificate

    A certificate of the clerk of a municipality showing the publication, posting, consideration, and adoption or amendment of a plan, bylaw, or capital budget or program shall be presumptive evidence of the facts as they relate to the lawful adoption or amendment of that plan, bylaw, or capital budget or program, so stated in any action or proceeding in court or before any board, commission, or other tribunal. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 100.)

  • § 4448. Appointment and powers of administrative officer

    (a) An administrative officer, who may hold any other office in the municipality other than membership in the board of adjustment or development review board, shall be nominated by the planning commission and appointed by the legislative body for a term of three years promptly after the adoption of the first bylaws or when a vacancy exists. The compensation of the administrative officer shall be fixed under sections 932 and 933 of this title, and the officer shall be subject to the personnel rules of the municipality adopted under sections 1121 and 1122 of this title. The administrative officer shall administer the bylaws literally and shall not have the power to permit any land development that is not in conformance with those bylaws. An administrative officer may be removed for cause at any time by the legislative body after consultation with the planning commission.

    (b) The planning commission may nominate and the legislative body may appoint an acting administrative officer who shall have the same duties and responsibilities as the administrative officer in the administrative officer's absence. If an acting administrative officer position is established, or, for municipalities that establish the position of assistant administrative officer, there shall be clear policies regarding the authority of the administrative officer in relation to the acting or assistant officer.

    (c) The administrative officer should provide an applicant with forms required to obtain any municipal permit or other municipal authorization required under this chapter, or under other laws or ordinances that relate to the regulation by municipalities of land development. If other municipal permits or authorizations are required, the administrative officer should coordinate a unified effort on behalf of the municipality in administering its development review programs. The administrative officer should inform any person applying for municipal permits or authorizations that the person should contact the regional permit specialist employed by the agency of natural resources in order to assure timely action on any related state permits; nevertheless, the applicant retains the obligation to identify, apply for, and obtain relevant state permits.

    (d) If the administrative officer fails to act with regard to a complete application for a permit within 30 days, whether by issuing a decision or by making a referral to the appropriate municipal panel, a permit shall be deemed issued on the 31st day. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 100.)

  • § 4449. Zoning permit, certificate of occupancy, and municipal land use permit

    (a) Within any municipality in which any bylaws have been adopted:

    (1) No land development may be commenced within the area affected by the bylaws without a permit issued by the administrative officer. No permit may be issued by the administrative officer except in conformance with the bylaws. When an application for a municipal land use permit seeks approval of a structure, the administrative officer shall provide the applicant with a copy of the applicable building energy standards under 30 V.S.A. §§ 51 (residential building energy standards) and 53 (commercial building energy standards). However, the administrative officer need not provide a copy of the standards if the structure is a sign or a fence or the application certifies that the structure will not be heated or cooled. In addition, the administrative officer may provide a copy of the Vermont Residential Building Energy Code Book published by the Department of Public Service in lieu of the full text of the residential building energy standards.

    (2) If the bylaws so adopted so provide, it shall be unlawful to use or occupy or permit the use or occupancy of any land or structure, or part thereof, created, erected, changed, converted, or wholly or partly altered or enlarged in its use or structure after the effective date of this chapter, within the area affected by those bylaws, until a certificate of occupancy is issued therefor by the administrative officer, stating that the proposed use of the structure or land conforms to the requirements of those bylaws. Provision of a certificate as required by 30 V.S.A. § 51 (residential building energy standards) or 53 (commercial building energy standards) shall be a condition precedent to the issuance of any such certificate of occupancy.

    (3) No permit issued pursuant to this section shall take effect until the time for appeal in section 4465 of this title has passed, or in the event that a notice of appeal is properly filed, no such permit shall take effect until adjudication of that appeal by the appropriate municipal panel is complete and the time for taking an appeal to the Environmental Division has passed without an appeal being taken. If an appeal is taken to the Environmental Division, the permit shall not take effect until the Environmental Division rules in accordance with 10 V.S.A. § 8504 on whether to issue a stay, or until the expiration of 15 days, whichever comes first.

    (b) Each permit issued under this section shall contain a statement of the period of time within which an appeal may be taken and shall require posting of a notice of permit on a form prescribed by the municipality within view from the public right-of-way most nearly adjacent to the subject property until the time for appeal in section 4465 of this title has passed. Within three days following the issuance of a permit, the administrative officer shall:

    (1) deliver a copy of the permit to the listers of the municipality; and

    (2) post a copy of the permit in at least one public place in the municipality until the expiration of 15 days from the date of issuance of the permit.

    (c)(1) Within 30 days after a municipal land use permit has been issued or within 30 days of the issuance of any notice of violation, the appropriate municipal official shall:

    (A) deliver the original or a legible copy of the municipal land use permit or notice of violation or a notice of municipal land use permit generally in the form set forth in subsection 1154(c) of this title to the town clerk for recording as provided in subsection 1154(a); and

    (B) file a copy of that municipal land use permit in the offices of the municipality in a location where all municipal land use permits shall be kept.

    (2) The municipal officer may charge the applicant for the cost of the recording fees as required by law.

    (d) If a public notice for a first public hearing pursuant to subsection 4442(a) of this title is issued under this chapter by the local legislative body with respect to the adoption or amendment of a bylaw, or an amendment to an ordinance adopted under prior enabling laws, the administrative officer, for a period of 150 days following that notice, shall review any new application filed after the date of the notice under the proposed bylaw or amendment and applicable existing bylaws and ordinances. If the new bylaw or amendment has not been adopted by the conclusion of the 150-day period or if the proposed bylaw or amendment is rejected, the permit shall be reviewed under existing bylaws and ordinances. An application that has been denied under a proposed bylaw or amendment that has been rejected or that has not been adopted within the 150-day period shall be reviewed again, at no cost, under the existing bylaws and ordinances, upon request of the applicant. Any determination by the administrative officer under this section shall be subject to appeal as provided in section 4465 of this title.

    (e) Beginning October 1, 2010, any application for an approval or permit and any approval or permit issued under this section shall include a statement, in content and form approved by the Secretary of Natural Resources, that State permits may be required and that the permittee should contact State agencies to determine what permits must be obtained before any construction may commence. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 100; amended 2009, No. 146 (Adj. Sess.), § F27; 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 236; 2013, No. 89, §§ 9, 11.)

  • § 4450. Eligibility to apply for permits

    Municipalities and solid waste management districts empowered to condemn property or an interest in property may apply for any permit or approval required by any bylaws adopted under this chapter. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 101.)

  • § 4451. Enforcement; penalties

    (a) Any person who violates any bylaw after it has been adopted under this chapter or who violates a comparable ordinance or regulation adopted under prior enabling laws shall be fined not more than $200.00 for each offense. No action may be brought under this section unless the alleged offender has had at least seven days' warning notice by certified mail. An action may be brought without the seven-day notice and opportunity to cure if the alleged offender repeats the violation of the bylaw or ordinance after the seven-day notice period and within the next succeeding 12 months.

    (1) The seven-day warning notice shall state that a violation exists, that the alleged offender has an opportunity to cure the violation within the seven days, and that the alleged offender will not be entitled to an additional warning notice for a violation occurring after the seven days.

    (2) A notice of violation issued under this chapter also shall state:

    (A) the bylaw or municipal land use permit condition alleged to have been violated;

    (B) the facts giving rise to the alleged violation;

    (C) to whom appeal may be taken and the period of time for taking an appeal; and

    (D) that failure to file an appeal within that period will render the notice of violation the final decision on the violation addressed in the notice.

    (3) In default of payment of the fine, the person, the members of any partnership, or the principal officers of the corporation shall each pay double the amount of the fine. Each day that a violation is continued shall constitute a separate offense. All fines collected for the violation of bylaws shall be paid over to the municipality whose bylaw has been violated.

    (b) Any person who, being the owner or agent of the owner of any lot, tract, or parcel of land, lays out, constructs, opens, or dedicates any street, sanitary sewer, storm sewer, water main, or other improvements for public use, travel, or other purposes or for the common use of occupants of buildings abutting thereon, or sells, transfers, or agrees or enters into an agreement to sell any land in a subdivision or land development whether by reference to or by other use of a plat of that subdivision or land development or otherwise, or erects any structure on that land, unless a final plat has been prepared in full compliance with this chapter and the bylaws adopted under this chapter and has been recorded as provided in this chapter, shall be fined not more than $200.00, and each lot or parcel so transferred or sold or agreed or included in a contract to be sold shall be deemed a separate violation. All fines collected for these violations shall be paid over to the municipality whose bylaw has been violated. The description by metes and bounds in the instrument of transfer or other document used in the process of selling or transferring shall not exempt the seller or transferor from these penalties or from the remedies provided in this chapter. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 101; amended 2011, No. 155 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; 2013, No. 146 (Adj. Sess.), § 10, eff. May 27, 2014.)

  • § 4452. Enforcement; remedies

    If any street, building, structure, or land is or is proposed to be erected, constructed, reconstructed, altered, converted, maintained, or used in violation of any bylaw adopted under this chapter, the administrative officer shall institute in the name of the municipality any appropriate action, injunction, or other proceeding to prevent, restrain, correct, or abate that construction or use, or to prevent, in or about those premises, any act, conduct, business, or use constituting a violation. A court action under this section may be initiated in the Environmental Division, or as appropriate, before the Judicial Bureau, as provided under section 1974a of this title. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 101; amended 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 236.)

  • § 4453. Challenges to housing provisions in bylaws

    The Attorney General or a designee shall investigate when there is a complaint that a bylaw or its manner of administration violates subdivision 4412(1) of this title, relating to equal treatment of housing and adequate provision of affordable housing. Upon determining that a violation has occurred, the Attorney General may file an action in the Environmental Division to challenge the validity of the bylaw or its manner of administration. In this action, the municipality shall have the burden of proof to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the challenged bylaw or its manner of administration does not violate the provisions of subdivision 4412(1) of this title. If the Division finds the bylaw or its administration to be in violation, it shall grant the municipality a reasonable period of time to correct the violation and may extend that time. If the violation continues after that time, the Division shall order the municipality to grant all requested permits and certificates of occupancy for housing relating to the area of continuing violation. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 101; amended 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 236.)

  • § 4454. Enforcement; limitations

    (a) An action, injunction, or other enforcement proceeding relating to the failure to obtain or comply with the terms and conditions of any required municipal land use permit may be instituted under section 1974a, 4451, or 4452 of this title against the alleged offender if the action, injunction, or other enforcement proceeding is instituted within 15 years from the date the alleged violation first occurred and not thereafter, except that the 15-year limitation for instituting an action, injunction, or enforcement proceeding shall not apply to any action, injunction, or enforcement proceeding instituted for a violation of subchapter 10 of chapter 61 of this title. The burden of proving the date the alleged violation first occurred shall be on the person against whom the enforcement action is instituted.

    (b) No action, injunction, or other enforcement proceeding may be instituted to enforce an alleged violation of a municipal land use permit that received final approval from the applicable board, commissioner, or officer of the municipality after July 1, 1998, unless the municipal land use permit or a notice of the permit generally in the form provided for in subsection 1154(c) of this title was recorded in the land records of the municipality as required by subsection 4449(c) of this title.

    (c) Nothing in this section shall prevent any action, injunction, or other enforcement proceeding by a municipality under any other authority it may have, including a municipality's authority under Title 18, relating to the authority to abate or remove public health risks or hazards.

    (d)(1) As used in this section, "person" means any of the following:

    (A) An individual, partnership, corporation, association, unincorporated organization, trust, or other legal or commercial entity, including a joint venture or affiliated ownership.

    (B) A municipality or State agency.

    (C) Individuals and entities affiliated with each other for profit, consideration, or any other beneficial interest derived from real estate.

    (2) The following individuals and entities shall be presumed not to be affiliated with a person for the purpose of profit, consideration, or other beneficial interest within the meaning of this section, unless there is substantial evidence of an intent to evade the purposes of this section:

    (A) A stockholder in a corporation shall be presumed not to be affiliated with a person solely on the basis of being a stockholder if the stockholder owns, controls, or has a beneficial interest in less than five percent of the outstanding shares in the corporation.

    (B) An individual shall be presumed not to be affiliated with a person solely for actions taken as an agent of another within the normal scope of duties of a court-appointed guardian, licensed attorney, real estate broker or salesperson, engineer, or land surveyor, unless the compensation received or beneficial interest obtained as a result of these duties indicates more than an agency relationship.

    (C) A seller or chartered lending institution shall be presumed not to be affiliated with a person solely for financing all or a portion of the purchase price at rates not substantially higher than prevailing lending rates in the community. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 101; amended 2009, No. 93 (Adj. Sess.), § 3a.)

  • § 4455. Revocation

    On petition by the municipality and after notice and opportunity for hearing, the Environmental Division may revoke a municipal land use permit issued under this chapter, including a permit for a telecommunications facility, on a determination that the permittee violated the terms of the permit or obtained the permit based on misrepresentation of material fact. (Added 2009, No. 54, § 47, eff. June 1, 2009; amended 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 236.)


  • Subchapter 010: APPROPRIATE MUNICIPAL PANELS
  • § 4460. Appropriate municipal panels

    (a) If a municipality establishes a development review board and appoints members to that board, the development review board in that municipality, until its existence is terminated by act of the legislative body, shall exercise all of the functions otherwise exercised under this chapter by the board of adjustment. It also shall exercise the specified development review functions otherwise exercised under this chapter by the planning commission. In municipalities that have created development review boards, the planning commission shall continue to exercise its planning and bylaw development functions and other duties established under this chapter. In situations where this chapter refers to functions that may be performed by a development review board or a planning commission or functions that may be performed by a development review board or a board of adjustment, it is intended that the function in question shall be performed by the development review board if one exists and by the other specified body if a development review board does not exist.

    (b) The board of adjustment or the development review board for a rural town or an urban municipality may consist of the members of the planning commission of that town or may include one or more members of the planning commission. The board of adjustment for a rural town or an urban municipality shall consist of not fewer than three nor more than nine persons, as the legislative body of the municipality determines, appointed by the legislative body of the municipality promptly after the first adoption of a bylaw by the municipality. If the legislative body of a municipality creates a development review board to perform all development review functions under this chapter, that board shall consist of not fewer than five nor more than nine persons, as the legislative body of the municipality determines, appointed by the legislative body of the municipality. A municipality may not have a board of adjustment and a development review board at the same time. Upon creation of a development review board, the existence of any board of adjustment shall terminate.

    (c) In the case of an urban municipality or of a rural town where the planning commission does not serve as the board of adjustment or the development review board, members of the board of adjustment or the development review board shall be appointed by the legislative body, the number and terms of office of which shall be determined by the legislative body subject to the provisions of subsection (a) of this section. The municipal legislative body may appoint alternates to a planning commission, a board of adjustment, or a development review board for a term to be determined by the legislative body. Alternates may be assigned by the legislative body to serve on the planning commission, the board of adjustment, or the development review board in situations when one or more members of the board are disqualified or are otherwise unable to serve. Vacancies shall be filled by the legislative body for the unexpired terms and upon the expiration of such terms. Each member of a board of adjustment or a development review board may be removed for cause by the legislative body upon written charges and after public hearing. If a development review board is created, provisions of this subsection regarding removal of members of the board of adjustment shall not apply.

    (d) A joint board of adjustment or development review board may be created upon the act of each legislative body of those municipalities having joint planning commissions as provided in section 4327 of this title. The joint board of adjustment or development review board for these participating municipalities shall consist of persons who would have been the members of the board of adjustment or development review board of each of those municipalities. Joint entities created under this subsection may include a board of adjustment and a development review board, if those different entities exist in the participating municipalities.

    (e) The following review functions shall be performed by the appropriate municipal panel authorized by a municipality as specified in the municipal bylaws and in accordance with this chapter, whether a zoning board of adjustment, planning commission, or development review board. Unless the matter is an appeal from the decision of the administrative officer, the matter shall come before the panel by referral from the administrative officer. Any such referral decision shall be appealable as a decision of the administrative officer.

    (1) review of right-of-way or easement for land development without frontage as authorized in subdivision 4412(3) of this title;

    (2) review of land development or use within an historic district or with respect to historic landmarks as authorized in subdivision 4414(1)(F) of this title;

    (3) review of land development or use within a design control district as authorized in subdivision 4414(1)(E) of this title;

    (4) review of proposed conditional uses as authorized in subdivision 4414(3) of this title;

    (5) review of planned unit developments as authorized in section 4417 of this title;

    (6) review of requests for waivers as authorized in subdivision 4414(9) of this title;

    (7) site plan review as authorized in section 4416 of this title;

    (8) review of proposed subdivisions as authorized in section 4418 of this title;

    (9) review of wireless telecommunications facilities as authorized in subdivision 4414(12) of this title;

    (10) appeals from a decision of the administrative officer pursuant to section 4465 of this title;

    (11) review of requests for variances pursuant to section 4469 of this title;

    (12) any other reviews required by the bylaws. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 103; amended 2013, No. 162 (Adj. Sess.), § 9.)

  • § 4461. Development review procedures

    (a) Meetings. An appropriate municipal panel shall elect its own officers and adopt rules of procedure, subject to this section and other applicable state statutes, and shall adopt rules of ethics with respect to conflicts of interest. Meetings of any appropriate municipal panel shall be held at the call of the chairperson and at such times as the panel may determine. The officers of the panel may administer oaths and compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of material germane to any issue under review. All meetings of the panel, except for deliberative and executive sessions, shall be open to the public. The panel shall keep minutes of its proceedings, showing the vote of each member upon each question, or, if absent or failing to vote, indicating this, and shall keep records of its examinations and other official actions, all of which shall be filed immediately in the office of the clerk of the municipality as a public record. For the conduct of any hearing and the taking of any action, a quorum shall be not less than a majority of the members of the panel, and any action of the panel shall be taken by the concurrence of a majority of the panel.

    (b) Information gathering and record of participation by interested persons. An appropriate municipal panel in connection with any proceeding under this chapter may examine or cause to be examined any property, maps, books, or records bearing upon the matters concerned in that proceeding, may require the attendance of any person having knowledge in the premises, may take testimony and require proof material for its information, and may administer oaths or take acknowledgment in respect of those matters. Any of the powers granted to an appropriate municipal panel by this subsection may be delegated by it to a specifically authorized agent or representative, except in situations where the municipal administrative procedure act applies. In any hearing, there shall be an opportunity for each person wishing to achieve status as an interested person under subsection 4465(b) of this title to demonstrate that the criteria set forth in that subsection are met, and the panel shall keep a written record of the name, address, and participation of each of these persons.

    (c) Expenditures for service. An appropriate municipal panel may employ or contract for secretaries, clerks, legal counsel, consultants, and other technical and clerical services. All members of an appropriate municipal panel may be compensated for the performance of their duties and may be reimbursed by their municipality for necessary and reasonable expenses. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 104.)

  • § 4462. Combined review

    If more than one type of review is required for a project, the reviews, to the extent feasible, shall be conducted concurrently. A process defining the sequence of review and issuance of decisions shall be defined in the bylaw. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 104.)

  • § 4463. Subdivision review

    (a) Approval of plats. Before any plat is approved, a public hearing on the plat shall be held by the appropriate municipal panel after public notice. A copy of the notice shall be sent to the clerk of an adjacent municipality, in the case of a plat located within 500 feet of a municipal boundary, at least 15 days prior to the public hearing.

    (b) Plat; record. The approval of the appropriate municipal panel shall expire 180 days from that approval or certification unless, within that 180-day period, that plat shall have been duly filed or recorded in the office of the clerk of the municipality. After an approved plat or certification by the clerk is filed, no expiration of that approval or certification shall be applicable.

    (1) The bylaw may allow the administrative officer to extend the date for filing the plat by an additional 90 days, if final local or State permits or approvals are still pending.

    (2) No plat showing a new street or highway may be filed or recorded in the office of the clerk of the municipality until it has been approved by the appropriate municipal panel, and that approval is endorsed in writing on the plat, or the certificate of the clerk of the municipality showing the failure of the appropriate municipal panel to take action within the 45-day period is attached to the plat and filed or recorded with the plat. After that filing or recording, the plat shall be a part of the official map of the municipality.

    (c) Acceptance of streets; improvements. Every street or highway shown on a plat filed or recorded as provided in this chapter shall be deemed to be a private street or highway until it has been formally accepted by the municipality as a public street or highway by ordinance or resolution of the legislative body of the municipality. No public municipal street, utility, or improvement may be constructed by the municipality in or on any street or highway until it has become a public street or highway as provided in this section. The legislative body shall have authority after a public hearing on the subject to name and rename all public streets and to number and renumber lots so as to provide for existing as well as future structures.

    (d) Beginning October 1, 2010, any application for an approval and any approval issued under this section shall include a statement, in content and form approved by the Secretary of Natural Resources, that State permits may be required and that the permittee should contact State agencies to determine what permits must be obtained before any construction may commence. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 104; amended 2009, No. 146 (Adj. Sess.), § F28.)

  • § 4464. Hearing and notice requirements; decisions and conditions; administrative review; role of advisory commissions in development review

    (a) Notice procedures. All development review applications before an appropriate municipal panel under procedures set forth in this chapter shall require notice as follows.

    (1) A warned public hearing shall be required for conditional use review, variances, administrative officer appeals, and final plat review for subdivisions. Any public notice for a warned public hearing shall be given not less than 15 days prior to the date of the public hearing by all the following:

    (A) Publication of the date, place, and purpose of the hearing in a newspaper of general circulation in the municipality affected.

    (B) Posting of the same information in three or more public places within the municipality in conformance with location requirements of 1 V.S.A. § 312(c)(2), including posting within view from the public right-of-way most nearly adjacent to the property for which an application is made.

    (C) Written notification to the applicant and to owners of all properties adjoining the property subject to development, including the owners of properties which would be contiguous to the property subject to development but for the interposition of a highway or other public right-of-way and, in any situation in which a variance is sought regarding setbacks from a State highway, also including written notification to the Secretary of Transportation. The notification shall include a description of the proposed project and shall be accompanied by information that clearly informs the recipient where additional information may be obtained, and that participation in the local proceeding is a prerequisite to the right to take any subsequent appeal.

    (2) Public notice for hearings on all other types of development review, including site plan review, shall be given not less than seven days prior to the date of the public hearing, and shall include at a minimum all the following:

    (A) Posting of the date, place, and purpose of the hearing in three or more public places within the municipality in conformance with the time and location requirements of 1 V.S.A. § 312(c)(2).

    (B) Written notification to the applicant and to the owners of all properties adjoining the property subject to development, including the owners of properties which would be contiguous to the property subject to development but for the interposition of a highway or other public right-of-way and, in any situation in which a variance is sought regarding setbacks from a State highway, also including written notification to the Secretary of Transportation. The notification shall include a description of the proposed project and shall be accompanied by information that clearly informs the recipient where additional information may be obtained, and that participation in the local proceeding is a prerequisite to the right to take any subsequent appeal.

    (3) The applicant may be required to bear the cost of the public warning and the cost and responsibility of notification of adjoining landowners. The applicant may be required to demonstrate proof of delivery to adjoining landowners either by certified mail, return receipt requested, or by written notice hand delivered or mailed to the last known address supported by a sworn certificate of service.

    (4) The bylaw may also require public notice through other effective means such as a notice board on a municipal website.

    (5) No defect in the form or substance of any requirements in subdivision (1) or (2) of this subsection shall invalidate the action of the appropriate municipal panel where reasonable efforts are made to provide adequate posting and notice. However, the action shall be invalid when the defective posting or notice was materially misleading in content. If an action is ruled to be invalid by the Environmental Division or by the applicable municipal panel itself, the action shall be remanded to the applicable municipal panel to provide new posting and notice, hold a new hearing, and take a new action.

    (b) Decisions.

    (1) The appropriate municipal panel may recess the proceedings on any application pending submission of additional information. The panel should close the evidence promptly after all parties have submitted the requested information. The panel shall adjourn the hearing and issue a decision within 45 days after the adjournment of the hearing, and failure of the panel to issue a decision within this period shall be deemed approval and shall be effective on the 46th day. Decisions shall be issued in writing and shall include a statement of the factual bases on which the appropriate municipal panel has made its conclusions and a statement of the conclusions. The minutes of the meeting may suffice, provided the factual bases and conclusions relating to the review standards are provided in conformance with this subsection.

    (2) In rendering a decision in favor of the applicant, the panel may attach additional reasonable conditions and safeguards as it deems necessary to implement the purposes of this chapter and the pertinent bylaws and the municipal plan then in effect. A bylaw may provide for the conditioning of permit issuance on the submission of a bond, escrow account, or other surety in a form acceptable to the legislative body of the municipality to assure one or more of the following: the completion of the project, adequate stabilization, or protection of public facilities that may be affected by a project.

    (3) Any decision shall be sent by certified mail within the period set forth in subdivision (1) of this subsection to the applicant and the appellant in matters on appeal. Copies of the decision shall also be mailed to every person or body appearing and having been heard at the hearing and a copy of the decision shall be filed with the administrative officer and the clerk of the municipality as a part of the public records of the municipality.

    (4) Conditions may require that no zoning permit, except for any permits that may be required for infrastructure construction, may be issued for an approved development unless the streets and other required public improvements have been satisfactorily installed in accordance with the approval decision and pertinent bylaws. In lieu of the completion of the required public improvements, the appropriate municipal panel may require from the owner for the benefit of the municipality a performance bond issued either by a bonding or surety company approved by the legislative body or by the owner with security acceptable to the legislative body in an amount sufficient to cover the full cost of those new streets and required improvements on or in those streets or highways and their maintenance for a period of two years after completion as is estimated by the appropriate municipal panel or such municipal departments or officials as the panel may designate. This bond or other security shall provide for, and secure to the public, the completion of any improvements that may be required within the period fixed in the subdivision bylaws for that completion and for the maintenance of those improvements for a period of two years after completion.

    (5) The legislative body may enter into an agreement governing any combination of the timing, financing, and coordination of private or public facilities and improvements in accordance with the terms and conditions of a municipal land use permit, provided that agreement is in compliance with all applicable bylaws in effect.

    (6) The performance bond required by this subsection shall run for a term to be fixed by the appropriate municipal panel, but in no case for a longer term than three years. However, with the consent of the owner, the term of that bond may be extended for an additional period not to exceed three years. If any required improvements have not been installed or maintained as provided within the term of the performance bond, the bond shall be forfeited to the municipality and upon receipt of the proceeds of the bond, the municipality shall install or maintain such improvements as are covered by the performance bond.

    (c) Administrative review. In addition to the delegation of powers authorized under this chapter, any bylaws adopted under this chapter may establish procedures under which the administrative officer may review and approve new development and amendments to previously approved development that would otherwise require review by an appropriate municipal panel. If administrative review is authorized, the bylaws shall clearly specify the thresholds and conditions under which the administrative officer classifies an application as eligible for administrative review. The thresholds and conditions shall be structured such that no new development shall be approved that results in a substantial impact under any of the standards set forth in the bylaws. No amendment issued as an administrative review shall have the effect of substantively altering any of the findings of fact of the most recent approval. Any decision by an administrative officer under this subsection may be appealed as provided in section 4465 of this title.

    (d) Role of advisory commissions in development review. An advisory commission that has been established through section 4433 or chapter 118 of this title and that has been granted authority under the bylaws, by ordinance, or by resolution of the legislative body to advise the appropriate municipal panel or panels, applicants, and interested parties should perform the advisory function in the following manner:

    (1) The administrative officer shall provide a copy or copies of applications subject to review by the advisory commission and all supporting information to the advisory commission upon determination that the application is complete.

    (2) The advisory commission may review the application and prepare recommendations on each of the review standards within the commission's purview for consideration by the appropriate municipal panel at the public hearing on the application. The commission or individual members of the commission may meet with the applicant, interested parties, or both, conduct site visits, and perform other fact-finding that will enable the preparation of recommendations.

    (3) Meetings by the advisory commission on the application shall comply with the open meeting law, 1 V.S.A. chapter 5, subchapter 2, and the requirements of the commission's rules of procedure, but shall not be conducted as public hearings before a quasijudicial body.

    (4) The advisory commission's recommendations may be presented in writing at or before the public hearing of the appropriate municipal panel on the application, or may be presented orally at the public hearing.

    (5) If the advisory commission finds that an application fails to comply with one or more of the review standards, it shall make every effort to inform the applicant of the negative recommendations before the public hearing, giving the applicant an opportunity to withdraw the application or otherwise prepare a response to the advisory committee's recommendations at the public hearing. Advisory commissions may also suggest remedies to correct the deficiencies that resulted in the negative recommendations. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 104; amended 2007, No. 75, § 29; 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 236.)


  • Subchapter 011: APPEALS
  • § 4465. Appeals of decisions of the administrative officer

    (a) An interested person may appeal any decision or act taken by the administrative officer in any municipality by filing a notice of appeal with the secretary of the board of adjustment or development review board of that municipality or with the clerk of that municipality if no such secretary has been elected. This notice of appeal must be filed within 15 days of the date of that decision or act, and a copy of the notice of appeal shall be filed with the administrative officer.

    (b) For the purposes of this chapter, an interested person means any one of the following:

    (1) A person owning title to property, or a municipality or solid waste management district empowered to condemn it or an interest in it, affected by a bylaw, who alleges that the bylaw imposes on the property unreasonable or inappropriate restrictions of present or potential use under the particular circumstances of the case.

    (2) The municipality that has a plan or a bylaw at issue in an appeal brought under this chapter or any municipality that adjoins that municipality.

    (3) A person owning or occupying property in the immediate neighborhood of a property that is the subject of any decision or act taken under this chapter, who can demonstrate a physical or environmental impact on the person's interest under the criteria reviewed, and who alleges that the decision or act, if confirmed, will not be in accord with the policies, purposes, or terms of the plan or bylaw of that municipality.

    (4) Any ten persons who may be any combination of voters or real property owners within a municipality listed in subdivision (2) of this subsection who, by signed petition to the appropriate municipal panel of a municipality, the plan or a bylaw of which is at issue in any appeal brought under this title, allege that any relief requested by a person under this title, if granted, will not be in accord with the policies, purposes, or terms of the plan or bylaw of that municipality. This petition to the appropriate municipal panel must designate one person to serve as the representative of the petitioners regarding all matters related to the appeal.

    (5) Any department and administrative subdivision of this state owning property or any interest in property within a municipality listed in subdivision (2) of this subsection, and the agency of commerce and community development of this state.

    (c) In the exercise of its functions under this section, a board of adjustment or development review board shall have the following powers, in addition to those specifically provided for elsewhere in this chapter:

    (1) To hear and decide appeals taken under this section, including, without limitation, where it is alleged that an error has been committed in any order, requirement, decision, or determination made by an administrative officer under this chapter in connection with the administration or enforcement of a bylaw.

    (2) To hear and grant or deny a request for a variance under section 4469 of this title. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 106.)

  • § 4466. Notice of appeal

    A notice of appeal shall be in writing and shall include the name and address of the appellant, a brief description of the property with respect to which the appeal is taken, a reference to the regulatory provisions applicable to that appeal, the relief requested by the appellant, and the alleged grounds why the requested relief is believed proper under the circumstances. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 106.)

  • § 4467. [Reserved for future use.]

  • § 4468. Hearing on appeal

    The appropriate municipal panel shall set a date and place for a public hearing of an appeal under this chapter that shall be within 60 days of the filing of the notice of appeal under section 4465 of this title. The appropriate municipal panel shall give public notice of the hearing and shall mail to the appellant a copy of that notice at least 15 days prior to the hearing date. Any person or body empowered by section 4465 of this title to take an appeal with respect to that property at issue may appear and be heard in person or be represented by an agent or attorney at the hearing. Any hearing held under this section may be adjourned by the appropriate municipal panel from time to time; provided, however, that the date and place of the adjourned hearing shall be announced at the hearing. All hearings under this section shall be open to the public and the rules of evidence applicable at these hearings shall be the same as the rules of evidence applicable in contested cases in hearings before administrative agencies as set forth in 3 V.S.A. § 810. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 106.)

  • § 4469. Appeal; variances

    (a) On an appeal under section 4465 or 4471 of this title or on a referral under subsection 4460(e) of this title in which a variance from the provisions of a bylaw or interim bylaw is requested for a structure that is not primarily a renewable energy resource structure, the board of adjustment or the development review board or the Environmental Division created under 4 V.S.A. chapter 27 shall grant variances and render a decision in favor of the appellant, if all the following facts are found, and the finding is specified in its decision:

    (1) There are unique physical circumstances or conditions, including irregularity, narrowness, or shallowness of lot size or shape, or exceptional topographical or other physical conditions peculiar to the particular property, and that unnecessary hardship is due to these conditions, and not the circumstances or conditions generally created by the provisions of the bylaw in the neighborhood or district in which the property is located.

    (2) Because of these physical circumstances or conditions, there is no possibility that the property can be developed in strict conformity with the provisions of the bylaw, and that the authorization of a variance is therefore necessary to enable the reasonable use of the property.

    (3) Unnecessary hardship has not been created by the appellant.

    (4) The variance, if authorized, will not alter the essential character of the neighborhood or district in which the property is located, substantially or permanently impair the appropriate use or development of adjacent property, reduce access to renewable energy resources, or be detrimental to the public welfare.

    (5) The variance, if authorized, will represent the minimum variance that will afford relief and will represent the least deviation possible from the bylaw and from the plan.

    (b) On an appeal under section 4465 or 4471 of this title in which a variance from the provisions of a bylaw or interim bylaw is requested for a structure that is primarily a renewable energy resource structure, the board of adjustment or development review board or the Environmental Division may grant that variance and render a decision in favor of the appellant if all the following facts are found, and the finding is specified in its decision:

    (1) It is unusually difficult or unduly expensive for the appellant to build a suitable renewable energy resource structure in conformance with the bylaws.

    (2) The hardship was not created by the appellant.

    (3) The variance, if authorized, will not alter the essential character of the neighborhood or district in which the property is located, substantially or permanently impair the appropriate use or development of adjacent property, reduce access to renewable energy resources, or be detrimental to the public welfare.

    (4) The variance, if authorized, will represent the minimum variance that will afford relief and will represent the least deviation possible from the bylaws and from the plan.

    (c) In rendering a decision in favor of an appellant under this section, a board of adjustment or development review board or the Environmental Division may attach such conditions to variances as it may consider necessary and appropriate under the circumstances to implement the purposes of this chapter and the plan of the municipality then in effect.

    (d) A variance authorized in a flood hazard area shall meet applicable federal and State rules for compliance with the National Flood Insurance Program. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 106; amended 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 236; 2011, No. 138 (Adj. Sess.), § 14, eff. May 14, 2012.)

  • § 4470. Successive appeals; requests for reconsideration to an appropriate municipal panel

    (a) An appropriate municipal panel may reject an appeal or request for reconsideration without hearing and render a decision, which shall include findings of fact, within 10 days of the date of filing of the notice of appeal, if the appropriate municipal panel considers the issues raised by the appellant in the appeal have been decided in an earlier appeal or involve substantially or materially the same facts by or on behalf of that appellant. The decision shall be rendered, on notice given, as in the case of a decision under subdivision 4464(b)(3) of this title, and shall constitute a decision of the appropriate municipal panel for the purpose of section 4471 of this title.

    (b) A municipality shall enforce all decisions of its appropriate municipal panels, and further, the Superior Court's Civil or Environmental Division shall enforce such decisions upon petition, complaint or appeal or other means in accordance with the laws of this State by such municipality or any interested person by means of mandamus, injunction, process of contempt, or otherwise. (Added 1967, No. 334 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. March 23, 1968; amended 1993, No. 232 (Adj. Sess.), § 20, eff. March 15, 1995; 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 107; 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 236.)

  • § 4470a. Misrepresentation; material fact

    An administrative officer or appropriate municipal panel may reject an application under this chapter, including an application for a telecommunications facility, that misrepresents any material fact. After notice and opportunity for hearing in compliance with 3 V.S.A. § 809, an appropriate municipal panel may award reasonable attorney's fees and costs to any party or person who may have become a party but for the false or misleading information or who has incurred attorney's fees or costs in connection with the application. (Added 2009, No. 54, § 48, eff. June 1, 2009.)

  • § 4471. Appeal to Environmental Division

    (a) Participation required. An interested person who has participated in a municipal regulatory proceeding authorized under this title may appeal a decision rendered in that proceeding by an appropriate municipal panel to the Environmental Division. Participation in a local regulatory proceeding shall consist of offering, through oral or written testimony, evidence or a statement of concern related to the subject of the proceeding. An appeal from a decision of the appropriate municipal panel, or from a decision of the municipal legislative body under subsection 4415(d) of this title, shall be taken in such manner as the Supreme Court may by rule provide for appeals from State agencies governed by 3 V.S.A. §§ 801-816, unless the decision is an appropriate municipal panel decision which the municipality has elected to be subject to review on the record.

    (b) Appeal on the record. If the municipal legislative body has determined (or been instructed by the voters) to provide that appeals of certain appropriate municipal panel determinations shall be on the record, has defined what magnitude or nature of development proposal shall be subject to the production of an adequate record by the panel, and has provided that the municipal administrative procedure act shall apply in these instances, then an appeal from such a decision of an appropriate municipal panel shall be taken on the record in accordance with the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure.

    (c) Notice. Notice of the appeal shall be filed by certified mailing, with fees, to the Environmental Division and by mailing a copy to the municipal clerk or the administrative officer, if so designated, who shall supply a list of interested persons to the appellant within five working days. Upon receipt of the list of interested persons, the appellant shall, by certified mail, provide a copy of the notice of appeal to every interested person, and, if any one or more of those persons are not then parties to the appeal, upon motion they shall be granted leave by the Division to intervene.

    (d) Local Act 250 review. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, decisions of a development review board under section 4420 of this title, with respect to local Act 250 review of municipal impacts, are not subject to appeal, but shall serve as presumptions under the provisions of 10 V.S.A. chapter 151.

    (e) Neighborhood development area. Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this section, a determination by an appropriate municipal panel shall not be subject to appeal if the determination is that a proposed residential development within a designated downtown development district, designated growth center, designated Vermont neighborhood, or designated neighborhood development area seeking conditional use approval will not result in an undue adverse effect on the character of the area affected under subdivision 4414(3) of this title. (Added 1967, No. 334 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. March 23, 1968; amended 1971, No. 185 (Adj. Sess.), § 205, eff. March 29, 1972; 1973, No. 193 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. April 9, 1974; 1993, No. 232 (Adj. Sess.), § 48, eff. March 15, 1995; 1999, No. 112 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 107; 2007, No. 176 (Adj. Sess.), § 9, eff. May 28, 2008; 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 236; 2015, No. 51, § F.6.)

  • § 4472. Exclusivity of remedy; finality

    (a) Except as provided in subsections (b) and (c) of this section, the exclusive remedy of an interested person with respect to any decision or act taken, or any failure to act, under this chapter or with respect to any one or more of the provisions of any plan or bylaw shall be the appeal to the appropriate panel under section 4465 of this title, and the appeal to the Environmental Division from an adverse decision upon such appeal under section 4471 of this title. The appeal to the Environmental Division, if not on the record, as allowed under section 4471 of this title, shall be governed by the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure and such interested person shall be entitled to a de novo trial in the Environmental Division. If the appeal to the Environmental Division is on the record, according to the provisions of section 4471 of this title, it shall be governed by the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure. Whether proceeding on the record or de novo, the court shall have and may exercise all powers and authorities of a Superior Court.

    (b) The remedy of an interested person with respect to the constitutionality of any one or more of the provisions of any bylaw or municipal plan shall be governed by the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure with a de novo trial in the Superior Court, unless the issue arises in the context of another case under this chapter, in which instance it may be raised in the Environmental Division. In such cases, hearings before the appropriate municipal panel shall not be required. This section shall not limit the authority of the Attorney General to bring an action before the Environmental Division under section 4453 of this title, with respect to challenges to housing provisions in bylaws.

    (c) The provisions of this section shall not be construed as preventing appeals to the Supreme Court in accordance with the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure and the Vermont Rules of Appellate Procedure.

    (d) Upon the failure of any interested person to appeal to an appropriate municipal panel under section 4465 of this title, or to appeal to the Environmental Division under section 4471 of this title, all interested persons affected shall be bound by that decision or act of that officer, the provisions, or the decisions of the panel, as the case may be, and shall not thereafter contest, either directly or indirectly, the decision or act, provision, or decision of the panel in any proceeding, including any proceeding brought to enforce this chapter. (Added 1967, No. 334 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. March 23, 1968; amended 1973, No. 193 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. April 9, 1974; 1973, No. 255 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. April 9, 1974; 1973, No. 261, (Adj. Sess.), § 8, 1993, No. 232 (Adj. Sess.), § 49, eff. March 15, 1995; 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 107; 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 236.)

  • § 4473. Purpose; limitation

    It is the purpose of this chapter to provide for review of all questions arising out of or with respect to the implementation by a municipality of this chapter. Except as specifically provided herein, no board of adjustment or development review board may amend, alter, invalidate or affect any development plan or bylaw of any municipality or the implementation or enforcement thereof, or allow any use not permitted by any zoning regulations or other bylaw. (Added 1967, No. 334 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. March 23, 1968; amended 1973, No. 255, § 4, eff. April 11, 1974; 1993, No. 232 (Adj. Sess.), § 21, eff. March 15, 1995.)

  • § 4474. Clerk's certificate

    A certificate of the clerk of a municipality showing the publication, posting, consideration, and adoption of a plan, bylaw, capital budget, or program or amendment thereof shall be presumptive evidence of the facts as they relate to the lawful adoption of said plan, bylaw, capital budget or program or amendment thereof, so stated in any action or proceeding in court or before any board, commission, or other tribunal. (Added 1973, No. 261 (Adj. Sess.), § 9; amended 1975, No. 164 (Adj. Sess.), § 10.)

  • § 4475. Repealed. 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 119(c).

  • § 4476. Formal review of regional planning commission decisions

    (a) Formal review. A request for formal review of the sufficiency of an adopted regional plan or amendment, or for formal review of the decision of a regional planning commission with respect to the confirmation of a municipal planning effort, or the decision relating to approval of a municipal plan, shall be to the regional review panel created under section 4305 of this title. A request for formal review shall be filed within 21 days of adoption of the plan or amendment or the decision.

    (b) Standing. The following have standing to request formal review or become parties to formal review conducted under this section:

    (1) a person owning title to property affected by a decision of the regional planning commission who alleges that that decision imposes on that property unreasonable or inappropriate restrictions that significantly impair present or potential use under the particular circumstances of the case;

    (2) a municipality whose planning effort is the subject of a decision by the regional planning commission, any other municipality within the region, any municipality which adjoins the region, or a regional planning commission which adjoins the region;

    (3) any agency, department or other governmental subdivision of the state owning property or an interest therein within a municipality listed in subdivision (2) of this subsection, and the agency of commerce and community development;

    (4) any 20 persons who by signed petition allege that the decision, if confirmed, will not be in accord with the requirements of this chapter, and who own or occupy real property located within any combination of the following:

    (A) any municipality whose planning effort is the subject of the decision by the regional planning commission; or

    (B) any municipality which adjoins a municipality whose planning effort is subject of the decision by the regional planning commission;

    (5) with respect to the sufficiency of an adopted or amended regional plan, any 20 persons who by signed petition allege that the plan or amendment is not in accord with the requirements of this chapter, and who own or occupy real property located within the area that includes the region and the municipalities that adjoin the region;

    (6) the regional planning commission whose plan, amendment, or decision is the subject of the request for formal review.

    (c) Procedure; regional review panel. Notice of formal review shall be sent by mail to the municipalities within the region, to the regional planning commission, and to the agency of commerce and community development and shall be accompanied by a statement of all reasons why the appellant believes the plan or opinion to be in error and all issues which the appellant believes to be relevant. Within 30 days of receipt of the notice of formal review, the date for a hearing shall be set and the council shall publish notice of the hearing in a newspaper of general circulation in the applicable region, and shall provide notice in writing of the hearing to individuals and organizations that had requested notice from the regional planning commission under section 4348 relating to the adoption of a regional plan. The appellant shall pay the costs of publication. The hearing shall be held within 45 days of receipt of the notice of formal review. Upon motion, for good cause shown, the panel may extend the date of the hearing. Within 20 days of adjournment of the hearing, the regional review panel shall issue a decision approving, conditionally approving or disapproving the regional plan or amendment or the opinion with respect to confirmation of the municipal planning effort or approval of the municipal plan. The regional review panel shall be governed by the provisions for contested cases in chapter 25 of Title 3.

    (d) Issues on formal review.

    (1) With respect to formal review of the sufficiency of an adopted or amended regional plan, the regional review panel shall determine:

    (A) whether the plan contains the elements required by law;

    (B) whether the plan is compatible with the plans of adjoining regions; and

    (C) whether the plan is consistent with the goals established in section 4302 of this title.

    (2) With respect to formal review of a regional planning commission decision on the confirmation of a municipal planning effort, the regional review panel shall determine:

    (A) whether the municipality is engaged in a continuing planning process that, within a reasonable time, will attain consistency with the goals established in section 4302 of this title; and

    (B) whether the municipality is maintaining its efforts to provide local funds for municipal and regional planning purposes.

    (3) With respect to formal review of a regional planning commission decision on the approval or disapproval of a municipal plan, the regional review panel shall determine:

    (A) whether the plan is consistent with the goals established in section 4302 of this title;

    (B) whether the plan is compatible with its regional plan; and

    (C) whether the plan is compatible with approved plans of other municipalities in the region.

    (e) Stays.

    (1) The filing of a notice of formal review shall not stay the effect of the plan or the decision of the regional planning commission, unless so ordered by the regional review panel.

    (2) If notice of formal review of the decision of a regional planning commission to approve or disapprove a municipal plan is filed prior to final adoption of the plan, the regional review panel shall stay formal review proceedings pending final adoption. The panel, however, may proceed with formal review upon the request of the municipality whose plan is the subject of the review.

    (f) Appeal to supreme court. An appeal from a decision of the regional review panel shall be to the supreme court. (Added 1987, No. 200 (Adj. Sess.), § 33, eff. July 1, 1989; amended 1989, No. 280 (Adj. Sess.),§§ 11, 11a; 1995, No. 190 (Adj. Sess.), § 1(a).)


  • Subchapter 012: CONSTRUCTION OF ACT, SAVING CLAUSE, SEVERABILITY
  • § 4480. Construction of chapter

    The provisions of this chapter shall not affect any act done, contract executed, or liability incurred prior to its effective date, or affect any suit or prosecution pending or to be instituted, to enforce any right, rule, regulation, or ordinance or to punish any offense against any such repealed laws or against any ordinance enacted under them. All ordinances, resolutions, regulations, and rules made under any act of the general assembly repealed by this chapter shall continue in effect as if such act had not been repealed, except as otherwise specifically provided in this chapter. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 109.)

  • § 4481. Saving clause

    The amendment of this chapter and the repeal of prior enabling laws relating to zoning ordinances, subdivision regulations, or bylaws or any ordinance or regulation similar to a bylaw authorized by this chapter shall not invalidate any zoning ordinance, subdivision regulation, or bylaw or any such ordinance or regulation enacted under those prior enabling laws, except as follows. Effective September 1, 2005, the provisions of sections 4412 and 4413 of this title, and the provisions of subchapters 9, 10, and 11 of this chapter and the related definitions in section 4303 of this title, shall control over any inconsistent municipal regulations, ordinances, or bylaws. With respect to other provisions of this chapter, any previously enacted zoning ordinance, subdivision regulation, bylaw, or such similar ordinance or regulation shall be amended to conform with the provisions of this chapter by September 1, 2011. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 109.)

  • § 4482. Severability

    If any provision of this chapter or the application of this chapter to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the invalidity does not affect other provisions or applications of this chapter that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and for this purpose, the provisions of this chapter are severable. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 109.)

  • § 4483. Construction; limitation

    (a) In reviewing the procedures used in the adoption, amendment, or repeal of any plan or bylaw, no court shall invalidate the plan or bylaw or its amendment or repeal because of a failure to adhere to strict and literal requirements of this chapter concerning minor or nonessential particulars. The court shall uphold the plan, bylaw, or action if there has been substantial compliance with the procedural requirements of this chapter.

    (b) No person shall challenge for purported procedural defects the validity of any plan or bylaw as adopted, amended, or repealed under this chapter after two years following the day on which it would have taken effect if no defect had occurred. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 109.)

  • §§ 4490-4496. Repealed. 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 119(c).


  • Subchapter 013: ANNUAL HOUSING REPORTS
  • § 4498. Housing budget and investment reports

    The Commissioner of Housing and Community Development shall:

    (1) Create a Vermont housing budget designed to assure efficient expenditure of State funds appropriated for housing development, to encourage and enhance cooperation among housing organizations, to eliminate overlap and redundancy in housing development efforts, and to ensure appropriate geographic distribution of housing funds. The Vermont housing budget shall include any State funds of $50,000.00 or more awarded or appropriated for housing. The Vermont housing budget and appropriation recommendations shall be submitted to the General Assembly annually on or before January 15. The provisions of 2 V.S.A. § 20(d) (expiration of required reports) shall not apply to the recommendations to be made under this subdivision, and the report shall include the amounts and purposes of funds appropriated for or awarded to the following:

    (A) The Vermont Housing and Conservation Trust Fund.

    (B) The Agency of Human Services.

    (C) The Agency of Commerce and Community Development.

    (D) Any other entity that fits the funding criteria.

    (2) Annually, develop a Vermont Housing Investment Plan in consultation with the Vermont Housing Council. The Housing Investment Plan shall be consistent with the Vermont consolidated plan for housing, in order to coordinate the investment of State, federal and other resources, such as State appropriations, tax credits, rental assistance, and mortgage revenue bonds, to increase the availability and improve the quality of Vermont's housing stock. The Housing Investment Plan shall be submitted to the General Assembly, annually on January 15. The provisions of 2 V.S.A. § 20(d) (expiration of required reports) shall not apply to the Plan to be made under this subdivision, and the Plan shall:

    (A) target investments at single-family housing, mobile homes, multifamily housing, and housing for homeless persons and people with special needs;

    (B) recommend approaches that maximize the use of available State and federal resources;

    (C) identify areas of the State that face the greatest housing shortages; and

    (D) recommend strategies to improve coordination among State, local, and regional offices in order to remedy identified housing shortages. (Added 2005, No. 189 (Adj. Sess.), § 12; amended 2013, No. 142 (Adj. Sess.), § 38.)