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Searching 2023-2024 Session

The Vermont Statutes Online

The Vermont Statutes Online does not include the actions of the 2024 session of the General Assembly. We expect them to be updated by November 1st.

NOTE: The Vermont Statutes Online is an unofficial copy of the Vermont Statutes Annotated that is provided as a convenience.

Title 20: Internal Security and Public Safety

Chapter 174: Accessibility Standards for Public Buildings and Parking

  • § 2900. Definitions

    As used in this chapter:

    (1) “Alteration” means a change to a public building that affects or could affect the usability of the building or any part of the building. “Alteration” includes remodeling, renovation, rehabilitation, reconstruction, historic restoration, changes, or rearrangement in the plan or configuration of walls and full-height partitions. Normal maintenance, reroofing, painting or wallpapering, asbestos removal, lead paint hazard reduction, or changes to mechanical and electrical systems are not alterations unless they affect the usability of the building or facility.

    (2) “Ambulatory disability” means an impairment that prevents or impedes walking. A person shall be considered to have an ambulatory disability if the person:

    (A) cannot walk 200 feet without stopping to rest;

    (B) cannot walk without the use or assistance of a brace, a cane, a crutch, another person, a prosthetic device, a wheelchair, or another assistive device;

    (C) is restricted by lung disease to such an extent that the person’s forced (respiratory) expiratory volume for one second, when measured by spirometry, is less than one liter or the arterial oxygen tension is less than 60 mm/hg on room air at rest;

    (D) uses portable oxygen;

    (E) has a cardiac condition that causes the person functional limitations classified in severity as Class III or Class IV according to standards set by the American Heart Association; or

    (F) is severely limited in ability to walk due to having arthritis, or a neurological or orthopedic condition.

    (3) “Blind” means the visual impairment of an individual whose central visual acuity does not exceed 20/200 in the better eye with corrective lenses or whose visual acuity, if better than 20/200, is accompanied by a limit to the field of vision in the better eye to such a degree that its widest diameter subtends an angle of no greater than 20 degrees.

    (4) “Covered multifamily dwelling” means a residential unit for sale or rent in a public building consisting of four or more residential units if the building has one or more elevators; and a ground floor residential unit for sale or rent in a public building consisting of four or more residential units, if the building has no elevator. For the purpose of this chapter, “public building” includes, in addition to the definition in subdivision (8) of this section, a cooperative or condominium if the building otherwise meets the definition of “covered multifamily dwelling.”

    (5) “Historic building” means any structure that is listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places or included in the State Register of Historic Places.

    (6) “Maximum extent feasible” means the situation in which the nature of an existing building or facility makes it virtually impossible to comply fully with accessibility standards. In these circumstances, the alteration shall provide the maximum physical accessibility feasible. Any altered feature of the building or facility that can be made accessible shall be. If providing accessibility to individuals with specific disabilities is not feasible, the facility shall be made accessible to persons with other types of disabilities.

    (7) “Primary function” means a major activity for which the facility is intended. Areas that contain a primary function include the customer services lobby of a bank, the dining area of a cafeteria, the meeting rooms in a conference center, and offices and other work areas in which the activities of the public or private entity using the facility are performed. Mechanical rooms, boiler rooms, supply storage rooms, employee lounges, or locker rooms, janitorial closets, entrances, corridors, and restrooms are not areas containing a primary function.

    (8) “Public building” means a State, county, or municipal building; airport terminal; bus or railroad station; school building; school; society hall; hotel as defined in 32 V.S.A. § 9202; restaurant; apartment; church or other house of worship; factory; mill; office building or other building in which persons are employed; store or other space in which goods are offered for sale at wholesale or retail; nursery; convalescent home; home for persons who are elders; or child care facility, provided that the term “public building” does not include a family residence registered as a child care home under 33 V.S.A. chapter 35, subchapter 1. “Public building” also means a tent or outdoor structure, place of amusement, barn, shed, or workshop, if normally open to the public for the purpose of offering goods for sale at wholesale or retail; public assembly; or viewing, entertainment, or education. “Public building” shall not include a working farm or farms, as that term is defined by section 2730 of this title. However, for purposes of this chapter, “public building” shall not include existing housing on a working farm provided to farm employees or a farm building that is open for public tours and for which no fee is charged for those tours.

    (9) “Technically infeasible” means that an alteration of a building or a facility has little likelihood of being made accessible because compliance with accessibility standards would require removal or alteration of a load-bearing member that is an essential part of the existing structural frame, or because other existing physical or site constraints prohibit modification or addition of elements, spaces, or features that are in full and strict compliance with the minimum requirements for new construction and are necessary to provide accessibility.

    (10) “Unit” means a self-contained portion of a public building under the control of the owner or lessee of the public building, such as a retail store in a shopping complex or a restaurant in an office building. (Added 2003, No. 141 (Adj. Sess.), § 5, eff. April 1, 2005; amended 2007, No. 172 (Adj. Sess.), § 6; 2013, No. 96 (Adj. Sess.), § 123; 2021, No. 20, § 181.)

  • § 2901. Access Board

    (a) An access board is created consisting of ten members. The members of the board shall be the Commissioner of Public Safety or designee; the Chair of the House Committee on Corrections and Institutions or designee; the Chair of the Senate Committee on Institutions or designee; the Commissioner of Buildings and General Services or designee; the State Historic Preservation Officer or designee; and five members appointed by the Governor, including an independent architect, a builder or contractor, and three individuals with disabilities representing organizations for persons with disabilities in this State, appointed by the Governor. The Governor shall also appoint one additional individual with a disability to act as an alternate for the three members with disabilities in the event one of those members is unable to attend a Board meeting. The alternate may attend all meetings and shall be paid a per diem for those meetings attended. The alternate shall vote only in the absence of an appointed member with a disability. Members and the alternate appointed by the Governor shall serve for a term of six years.

    (b) The Commissioner of Public Safety or designee, shall be the Chair of the Access Board and shall convene the Board whenever an application is made for a variance. Five members of the Board shall constitute a quorum. A decision of the Board based upon a majority vote of members present shall be binding. Members of the Board who are not State employees shall receive a per diem of $50.00 for each day devoted to official duties and reimbursement for actual and necessary expenses. These expenses shall be reimbursed from the appropriation to the Department of Public Safety.

    (c) The Access Board may adopt, amend, and repeal rules under 3 V.S.A. chapter 25 to carry out the provisions of this chapter. (Added 2003, No. 141 (Adj. Sess.), § 5, eff. April 1, 2005.)

  • § 2902. Construction standards; variance

    (a) A person shall not construct, alter, or permit construction or alteration of a public building or allow the change in use of a nonpublic building to become a public building unless the specifications at the time work commences meet or exceed the accessibility standards for new construction and alterations incorporated in 28 C.F.R. parts 35 and 36, the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG), as amended by this chapter and the Access Board.

    (b) Alterations of a public building and changes in use of a nonpublic building to become a public building shall comply with the standards specified in subsection (a) of this section and the rules of the Access Board. All altered elements and spaces shall be made accessible to the maximum extent feasible. Each existing element, space, or common area that is altered shall comply with the standards of this chapter. If compliance with accessibility standards is technically infeasible, the alteration shall provide accessibility to the maximum extent feasible. Any elements or features of the building or facility that are being altered and can be made accessible shall be made accessible within the scope of the alteration.

    (c) If an alteration affects or could affect the usability of or access to an area of a facility that contains a primary function, the path of travel to the altered area and the restrooms, telephones, and drinking fountains serving the altered area shall be made accessible to individuals who use wheelchairs to the maximum extent feasible. Compliance with this subsection is required only to the extent that the cost of making the additional elements and spaces accessible does not exceed 20 percent of the total cost of the overall alteration.

    (d) Full compliance with the standards in this section is not required in the rare circumstance in which an entity can demonstrate that it is structurally impracticable to meet the standards. If full compliance with the standards would be structurally impracticable, compliance is required to the extent that it is structurally practicable. In that case, any portion of the facility that can be made accessible shall be made accessible to the extent that it is structurally practicable. If provision of accessibility to individuals with certain disabilities in compliance with the standards would be structurally impracticable, accessibility shall nonetheless be provided to persons with other types of disabilities. Full compliance will be considered structurally impracticable only when the unique characteristics of terrain prevent the incorporation of accessibility features. The burden of proving the impracticability is on the person who designed or constructed the public building.

    (e) The Access Board may exempt a public building from compliance with any of the standards established by this chapter if the Board determines that compliance with the standards is not required by federal law and:

    (1) would be prohibitively costly in relation to the normal cost of the total project; or

    (2) would threaten or destroy the historic significance of an historic building or an historic project.

    (f) The exemption provided in subdivision (e)(1) of this section shall not apply to newly constructed buildings consisting of covered multifamily dwellings built for first occupancy after January 1, 1990, unless it is impracticable to design and construct at least one building entrance on an accessible route, as defined by the appropriate requirements of ADAAG because of the terrain or unusual characteristics of the site. The burden of proving the impracticability shall be on the person who designed or constructed the covered multifamily dwelling.

    (g) The Access Board shall adopt rules regarding compliance, variances, or abatements to a specified date, exemptions, and appeals.

    (h) A public building or unit constructed or altered in accordance with the requirements of this section shall not be rendered inaccessible as a result of subsequent renovations, alterations, or additions to that building or unit. (Added 2003, No. 141 (Adj. Sess.), § 5, eff. April 1, 2005.)

  • § 2903. Exemptions

    (a) The following are exempt from the provisions of this chapter, unless compliance with access standards is required by federal law:

    (1) Alterations to privately funded and operated dwelling units consisting of two or more stories within a single dwelling unit. This exemption shall not apply to alterations of dwelling units that are operated by State or local government or units that receive federal financial assistance to alter the unit or to provide rental assistance to an altered unit.

    (2) Apartments or rooming houses, cooperatives, condominiums, and other residential buildings consisting of three living units or less.

    (3) Alterations to the dwelling unit in a public building in which the owner of the public building resides.

    (b) Unless required by federal law, dwelling units that consist of three stories or less and two- or three-story retail establishments with a total of 15,000 square feet or less shall be exempt from any requirements pertaining to the installation of elevators. All other multistory buildings shall be provided with vertical access unless the building is exempted from this requirement pursuant to a rule of the Access Board.

    (c) Unless required by federal law, any single dwelling unit of two or more stories within a building consisting of four or more dwelling units is not required to have a vertical access within the dwelling unit, provided that five percent of the dwelling units or one unit, whichever is greater, has an accessible entrance, and all the dwelling units meet or exceed the minimum standards required in section 2907 of this title. (Added 2003, No. 141 (Adj. Sess.), § 5, eff. April 1, 2005.)

  • § 2904. Parking spaces

    Any parking facility on the premises of a public building shall contain at least the number of parking spaces required by ADAAG standards, and in any event at least one parking space, as designated parking for individuals with ambulatory disabilities or individuals who are blind patronizing the building. The space or spaces shall be accessibly and proximately located to the building, and, subject to 23 V.S.A. § 304a(d), shall be provided free of charge. Consideration shall be given to the distribution of spaces in accordance with the frequency and persistence of parking needs. Such spaces shall be designated by a clearly visible sign that cannot be obscured by a vehicle parked in the space, by the international symbol of access and, where appropriate, by the words “van accessible”; shall otherwise conform to ADAAG standards; and shall be in accordance with the standards established under section 2902 of this title. (Added 2003, No. 141 (Adj. Sess.), § 5, eff. April 1, 2005; amended 2009, No. 82 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 2011, No. 62, § 40; 2013, No. 96 (Adj. Sess.), § 124.)

  • § 2905. Accessibility; markings

    All public buildings that comply with the standards adopted under this chapter may be marked with the international symbol of access. (Added 2003, No. 141 (Adj. Sess.), § 5, eff. April 1, 2005.)

  • § 2906. Administration and enforcement

    (a) The Department of Public Safety shall enforce the provisions of this chapter relating to facilities for persons with disabilities and shall adopt rules which are necessary for the performance of its duties under this chapter.

    (b) Any person may file a complaint with the Commissioner of Public Safety alleging that a public building or unit is out of compliance with the provisions of this chapter. The Commissioner shall investigate the complaint, and if substantiated, shall order that the public building or unit be brought into compliance with the provisions of this chapter within a reasonable period of time. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Commissioner may establish a priority system for the investigation and enforcement of this chapter.

    (c) Any person who fails to carry out an order or condition attached to an approval shall be fined not more than $200.00 per day, not to exceed a maximum of $10,000.00, until compliance is effected.

    (d) On application by the Commissioner, the Superior Court for the county in which a violation of any rule adopted or any order issued under this chapter occurs shall have jurisdiction to enjoin or restrain the violation. An election by the Commissioner to proceed under this subsection shall not limit or restrict the Commissioner’s authority under this or other subchapters.

    (e) The Commissioner may assess penalties under section 2734 of this title against a person who violates this chapter or any rule adopted under this chapter. (Added 2003, No. 141 (Adj. Sess.), § 5, eff. April 1, 2005.)

  • § 2907. Accessibility standards; residential construction

    (a) As used in this chapter, “residential construction” means new construction of one family or multifamily dwellings. “Residential construction” shall not include a single family dwelling built by the owner for the personal occupancy of the owner and the owner’s family, or the assembly or placement of residential construction that is prefabricated or manufactured out-of-state.

    (b) Any residential construction shall be built to comply with all the following standards:

    (1) at least one first floor exterior door that is at least 36 inches wide;

    (2) first floor interior doors between rooms that are at least 34 inches wide or open doorways that are at least 32 inches wide with thresholds that are level, ramped, or beveled;

    (3) interior hallways that are level and at least 36 inches wide;

    (4) environmental and utility controls and outlets that are located at heights that are in compliance with standards adopted by the Vermont Access Board; and

    (5) bathroom walls that are reinforced to permit attachment of grab bars.

    (c) A violation of this section shall neither affect marketability nor create a defect in title of the residential construction.

    (d) Prior to the sale of residential construction, a seller shall provide written disclosure to a prospective buyer detailing whether the residential construction is in compliance with the standards described in subsection (b) of this section. Disclosure shall be made on a form and in a manner prescribed by the Access Board. (Added 2003, No. 141 (Adj. Sess.), § 5, eff. April 1, 2005; amended 2015, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. May 17, 2016.)