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Searching 2017-2018 Session

The Vermont Statutes Online

Title 24 : Municipal and County Government

Chapter 076A : HISTORIC DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT

(Cite as: 24 V.S.A. § 2793e)
  • § 2793e. Neighborhood planning areas; designation of neighborhood development areas

    (a) Purpose. This section is intended to encourage a municipality to plan for new and infill housing in the area including and immediately encircling its designated downtown, village center, new town center, or within its designated growth center in order to provide needed housing and to further support the commercial establishments in the designated center. To support this goal, this section sets out a two-component process.

    (1) The first component is the automatic delineation of a study area, defined in this section as a neighborhood planning area, that includes and encircles a municipality's designated downtown, village center, or new town center or, in the case of a designated growth center, is within the designated center. The process established by this section allows a municipality with a designated center to identify those locations within a neighborhood planning area that are suitable primarily for residential development.

    (2) The second component is the application by a municipality for the designation of locations within this study area as neighborhood development areas that are suitable for residential development and will receive the benefits provided by this section.

    (3) The Department shall provide municipalities with designated downtowns, village centers, new town centers, and growth centers with grants, as they become available, and technical assistance to help such municipalities apply for and receive neighborhood development area designations.

    (b) Definitions.

    (1) "Neighborhood planning area" means an automatically delineated area including and encircling a downtown, village center, or new town center designated under this chapter or within a growth center designated under this chapter. A neighborhood planning area is used for the purpose of identifying locations suitable for new and infill housing that will support a development pattern that is compact, oriented to pedestrians, and consistent with smart growth principles. To ensure a compact settlement pattern, the outer boundary of a neighborhood planning area shall be located entirely within the boundaries of the applicant municipality and shall be determined:

    (A) for a municipality with a designated downtown, by measuring out one-half mile from each point around the entire perimeter of the designated downtown boundary;

    (B) for a municipality with one or more designated village centers, by measuring out one-quarter mile from each point around the entire perimeter of the designated village center boundary;

    (C) for a municipality with a designated new town center, by measuring out one-quarter mile from each point around the entire perimeter of the designated new town center boundary; and

    (D) for a municipality with a designated growth center, as the same boundary as the designated growth center boundary.

    (2) "Neighborhood development area" means a location within a neighborhood planning area that is suitable for new and infill housing and that has been approved by the State Board for designation under this section and associated benefits.

    (c) Application for designation of a neighborhood development area. The State Board shall approve a neighborhood development area if the application demonstrates and includes all of the following elements:

    (1) The municipality has a duly adopted and approved plan and a planning process that is confirmed in accordance with section 4350 of this title and has adopted bylaws and regulations in accordance with sections 4414, 4418, and 4442 of this title.

    (2) A preapplication meeting with Department staff was held to review the program requirements and to preliminarily identify possible neighborhood development areas.

    (3) The proposed neighborhood development area is within a neighborhood planning area or such extension of the planning area as may be approved under subsection (d) of this section.

    (4) The proposed neighborhood development area consists of those portions of the neighborhood planning area that are generally within walking distance from the municipality's downtown, village center, or new town center designated under this chapter or from locations within the municipality's growth center designated under this chapter that are planned for higher density development.

    (5) The proposed neighborhood development area consists of those portions of the neighborhood planning area that are appropriate for new and infill housing, excluding identified flood hazard and fluvial erosion areas. In determining what areas are most suitable for new and infill housing, the municipality shall balance local goals for future land use, the availability of land for housing within the neighborhood planning area, and the smart growth principles. Based on those considerations, the municipality shall select an area for neighborhood development area designation that:

    (A) Avoids or that minimizes to the extent feasible the inclusion of "important natural resources" as defined in subdivision 2791(14) of this title. If an "important natural resource" is included within a proposed neighborhood development area, the applicant shall identify the resource, explain why the resource was included, describe any anticipated disturbance to such resource, and describe why the disturbance cannot be avoided or minimized.

    (B) Is served by planned or existing transportation infrastructure that conforms with "complete streets" principles as described under 19 V.S.A. § 309d and establishes pedestrian access directly to the downtown, village center, or new town center.

    (C) Is compatible with and will reinforce the character of adjacent National Register Historic Districts, National or State Register Historic Sites, and other significant cultural and natural resources identified by local or State government.

    (6) The neighborhood development area is served by:

    (A) municipal sewer infrastructure; or

    (B) a community or alternative wastewater system approved by the Agency of Natural Resources.

    (7) The municipal bylaws allow minimum net residential densities within the neighborhood development area greater than or equal to four single-family detached dwelling units per acre, exclusive of accessory dwelling units, or no fewer than the average existing density of the surrounding neighborhood, whichever is greater. The methodology for calculating density shall be established in the guidelines developed by the Department pursuant to subsection 2792(d) of this title.

    (A) Regulations that adequately regulate the physical form and scale of development may be used to demonstrate compliance with this requirement.

    (B) Development in the neighborhood development areas that is lower than the minimum net residential density required by this subdivision (7) shall not qualify for the benefits stated in subsections (f) and (g) of this section. The district coordinator shall determine whether development meets this minimum net residential density requirement in accordance with subsection (f) of this section.

    (8) Local bylaws, regulations, and policies applicable to the neighborhood development area substantially conform with neighborhood design guidelines developed by the Department pursuant to section 2792 of this title. These policies shall:

    (A) ensure that all investments contribute to a built environment that enhances the existing neighborhood character and supports pedestrian use;

    (B) ensure sufficient residential density and building heights;

    (C) minimize the required lot sizes, setbacks, and parking and street widths; and

    (D) require conformance with "complete streets" principles as described under 19 V.S.A. § 309d, street and pedestrian connectivity, and street trees.

    (9) Residents hold a right to utilize household energy conserving devices.

    (10) The application includes a map or maps that, at a minimum, identify:

    (A) "important natural resources" as defined in subdivision 2791(14) of this title;

    (B) existing slopes of 25 percent or steeper;

    (C) public facilities, including public buildings, public spaces, sewer or water services, roads, sidewalks, paths, transit, parking areas, parks, and schools;

    (D) planned public facilities, roads, or private development that is permitted but not built;

    (E) National Register Historic Districts, National or State Register Historic Sites, and other significant cultural and natural resources identified by local or State government;

    (F) designated downtown, village center, new town center, or growth center boundaries as approved under this chapter and their associated neighborhood planning area in accordance with this section; and

    (G) delineated areas of land appropriate for residential development and redevelopment under the requirements of this section.

    (11) The application includes the information and analysis required by the Department's guidelines under section 2792 of this title.

    (d) Designation process. Within 45 days of receipt of a complete application for designation of a neighborhood development area, the State Board, after opportunity for public comment, shall approve a neighborhood development area if the Board determines that the applicant has met the requirements of this section.

    (1) When approving a neighborhood development area, the State Board shall consult with the applicant about any changes the Board considers making to the boundaries of the proposed area. After consultation with the applicant, the Board may change the boundaries of the proposed area.

    (2) A neighborhood development area may include one or more areas of land extending beyond the delineated neighborhood planning area, provided that at least 80 percent but no fewer than seven of the members of the State Board present find that:

    (A) including the extended area beyond the neighborhood planning area is consistent with the goals of section 4302 of this title;

    (B) residential development opportunities within the neighborhood planning area are limited due to natural constraints and existing development;

    (C) the extended area represents a logical extension of an existing compact settlement pattern and is consistent with smart growth principles; and

    (D) the extended area is adjacent to existing development.

    (e) Length of designation. Initial designation of a neighborhood development area shall be reviewed concurrently with the next periodic review conducted of the underlying designated downtown, village center, new town center, or growth center.

    (1) The State Board, on its motion, may review compliance with the designation requirements at more frequent intervals.

    (2) If the underlying downtown, village center, new town center, or growth center designation terminates, the neighborhood development area designation also shall terminate.

    (3) If at any time the State Board determines that the designated neighborhood development area no longer meets the standards for designation established in this section, it may take any of the following actions:

    (A) require corrective action within a reasonable time frame;

    (B) remove the neighborhood development area designation; or

    (C) prospectively limit benefits authorized in this chapter.

    (4) Action taken by the State Board under subdivision (3) of this subsection shall not affect benefits already received by the municipality or a land owner in the designated neighborhood development area.

    (f) Neighborhood development area incentives for developers. Once a municipality has a designated neighborhood development area or has a Vermont neighborhood designation pursuant to section 2793d of this title, any proposed development within that area shall be eligible for each of the benefits listed in this subsection. These benefits shall accrue upon approval by the district coordinator, who shall review the density requirements set forth in subdivision (c)(7) of this section to determine benefit eligibility and issue a jurisdictional opinion under 10 V.S.A. chapter 151 on whether the density requirements are met. These benefits are:

    (1) The application fee limit for wastewater applications stated in 3 V.S.A. § 2822(j)(4)(D).

    (2) The application fee reduction for residential development stated in 10 V.S.A. § 6083a(d).

    (3) The exclusion from the land gains tax provided by 32 V.S.A. § 10002(p).

    (g) Neighborhood development area incentives for municipalities. Once a municipality has a designated neighborhood development area, it may receive:

    (1) priority consideration for municipal planning grant funds; and

    (2) training and technical assistance from the Department to support an application for benefits from the Department.

    (h) Alternative designation. If a municipality has completed all of the planning and assessment steps of this section but has not requested designation of a neighborhood development area, an owner of land within a neighborhood planning area may apply to the State Board for neighborhood development area designation status for a portion of land within the neighborhood planning area. The applicant shall have the responsibility to demonstrate that all of the requirements for a neighborhood development area designation have been satisfied and to notify the municipality that the applicant is seeking the designation. The State Board shall provide the municipality with at least 14 days' prior written notice of the Board's meeting to consider the application, and the municipality shall submit to the State Board the municipality's response, if any, to the application before or during that meeting. On approval of a neighborhood development area designation under this subsection, the applicant may proceed to obtain a jurisdictional opinion from the district coordinator under subsection (f) of this section in order to obtain the benefits granted to neighborhood development areas. (Added 2013, No. 59, § 8.)