The Vermont Statutes Online
Subchapter 001 : General Provisions; Definitions(Cite as: 24 V.S.A. § 4303)
§ 4303. Definitions
The following definitions shall apply throughout this chapter unless the context otherwise requires:
(1) "Affordable housing" means either of the following:
(A) Housing that is owned by its inhabitants whose gross annual household income does not exceed 80 percent of the county median income, or 80 percent of the standard metropolitan statistical area income if the municipality is located in such an area, as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the total annual cost of the housing, including principal, interest, taxes, insurance, and condominium association fees is not more than 30 percent of the household's gross annual income.
(B) Housing that is rented by its inhabitants whose gross annual household income does not exceed 80 percent of the county median income, or 80 percent of the standard metropolitan statistical area income if the municipality is located in such an area, as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the total annual cost of the housing, including rent, utilities, and condominium association fees, is not more than 30 percent of the household's gross annual income.
(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.)