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Searching 2023-2024 Session

The Vermont Statutes Online

The Vermont Statutes Online have been updated to include the actions of the 2023 session of the General Assembly.

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

Title 24 : Municipal and County Government

Chapter 061 : Regulatory Provisions; Police Power of Municipalities

Subchapter 011 : Miscellaneous Regulatory Powers

(Cite as: 24 V.S.A. § 2291)
  • § 2291. Enumeration of powers

    For the purpose of promoting the public health, safety, welfare, and convenience, a town, city, or incorporated village shall have the following powers:

    (1) To set off portions of public highways of the municipality for sidewalks and bicycle paths and to regulate their installation and use.

    (2) To provide for the removal of snow and ice from sidewalks by the owner, occupant, or person having charge of abutting property.

    (3) To provide for the location, protection, maintenance, and removal of trees, plants, and shrubs and buildings or other structures on or above public highways, sidewalks, or other property of the municipality.

    (4) To regulate the operation and use of vehicles of every kind including the power to erect traffic signs and signals, to regulate the speed of vehicles subject to 23 V.S.A. chapter 13, subchapter 12, to implement traffic-calming devices, to regulate or exclude the parking of all vehicles, and to provide for waiver of the right of appearance and arraignment in court by persons charged with parking violations by payment of specified fines within a stated period of time.

    (5) To establish rules for pedestrian traffic on public highways and to establish crosswalks.

    (6) To regulate the location, installation, maintenance, repair, and removal of utility poles, wires and conduits, water pipes or mains, storm drains, or gas mains and sewers, upon, under, or above public highways or public property of the municipality.

    (7) To regulate or prohibit the erection, size, structure, contents, and location of signs, posters, or displays on or above any public highway, sidewalk, lane, or alleyway of the municipality and to regulate the use, size, structure, contents, and location of signs on private buildings or structures.

    (8) To regulate or prohibit the use or discharge, but not possession, of firearms within the municipality or specified portions thereof, provided that an ordinance adopted under this subdivision shall be consistent with section 2295 of this title and shall not prohibit, reduce, or limit discharge at any existing sport shooting range, as that term is defined in 10 V.S.A. § 5227.

    (9) To license or regulate itinerant vendors, peddlers, door-to-door salesmen, and those selling goods, wares, merchandise, or services who engage in a transient or temporary business, or who sell from an automobile, truck, wagon, or other conveyance, excepting persons selling fruits, vegetables, or other farm produce.

    (10) To regulate the keeping of dogs, and to provide for their licensing, leashing, muzzling, restraint, impoundment, and destruction.

    (11) To regulate, license, tax, or prohibit circuses, carnivals, and menageries and all plays, concerts, entertainments, or exhibitions of any kind for which money is received.

    (12) To regulate or prohibit the storage or dumping of solid waste, as defined in 10 V.S.A. § 6602. These regulations may require the separation of specified components of the waste stream.

    (13) To compel the cleaning or repair of any premises that in the judgment of the legislative body is dangerous to the health or safety of the public and to establish health and safety standards for premises within the municipality in order to protect the public or prevent physical injury to other properties in the vicinity.

    (14) To define what constitutes a public nuisance, and to provide procedures and take action for its abatement or removal as the public health, safety, or welfare may require.

    (15) To provide for penalties for violation of any ordinance or rule adopted under the authority of this section.

    (16) To name and rename streets and to number and renumber lots pursuant to section 4463 of this title and to require the owner of a house or other building to which a number has been assigned to affix the number, including the assigned 911 address, to the structure, sign, or number post so that it is clearly visible from the road.

    (17) To regulate or prohibit possession of open or unsealed containers of alcoholic beverages in public places.

    (18) To regulate or prohibit consumption of alcoholic beverages in public places.

    (19) To regulate the construction, alteration, development, and decommissioning or dismantling of wireless telecommunications facilities and ancillary improvements where the city, town, or village has not adopted zoning or where those activities are not regulated pursuant to a duly adopted zoning bylaw. Regulations regarding the decommissioning or dismantling of telecommunications facilities and ancillary structures may include requirements that bond be posted, or other security acceptable to the legislative body, in order to finance facility decommissioning or dismantling activities. These regulations are not intended to prohibit seamless coverage of wireless telecommunications services. With respect to the construction or alteration of wireless telecommunications facilities subject to regulation granted in this section, the town, city, or incorporated village shall vest in its local regulatory authority the power to determine whether the installation of a wireless telecommunications facility, whatever its size, will impose no impact or merely a de minimis impact on the surrounding area and the overall pattern of land development, and if the local regulatory authority, originally or on appeal, determines that the facility will impose no impact or a de minimis impact, it shall issue a permit. No ordinance authorized by this section, except to the extent structured to protect historic landmarks and structures listed on the State or National Register of Historic Places, may have the purpose or effect of limiting or prohibiting a property owner’s ability to place or allow placement of antennae used to transmit, receive, or transmit and receive communications signals on that property owner’s premises if the aggregate area of the largest faces of the antennae is not more than eight square feet, and if the antennae and the mast to which they are attached do not extend more than 12 feet above the roof of that portion of the building to which they are attached.

    (20) To establish a conflict-of-interest policy to apply to all elected and appointed officials of the town, city, or incorporated village or ethical conduct policies to apply to all elected and appointed officials and employees of the municipality, or both.

    (21) To regulate, by means of a civil ordinance adopted pursuant to chapter 59 of this title, subject to the limitations of 13 V.S.A. § 351b and the requirement of 13 V.S.A. § 354(a), and consistent with the rules adopted by the Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets, pursuant to 13 V.S.A. § 352b(a), the welfare of animals in the municipality. Such ordinance may be enforced by humane officers as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 351, if authorized to do so by the municipality.

    (22) To regulate the sale and conveyance of sewage capacity to users, including phasing provisions and other conditions based on the impact of residential, commercial, or industrial growth within a town, in accord with principles in a duly adopted town plan.

    (23) Acting individually or in concert with other towns, cities, or incorporated villages and pursuant to chapter 87, subchapter 2 of this title, to incur indebtedness for or otherwise finance by any means permitted under chapter 53 of this title projects relating to renewable energy, as defined in 30 V.S.A. § 8002(17), or to eligible energy efficiency projects undertaken by owners of real property within the boundaries of the town, city, or incorporated village. Energy efficiency projects shall be those that are eligible under section 3267 of this title.

    (24) Upon the determination by a municipal building inspector, health officer, or fire marshal that a building within the boundaries of the town, city, or incorporated village is uninhabitable, to recover all expenses incident to the maintenance of the uninhabitable building with the expenses to constitute a lien on the property in the same manner and to the same extent as taxes assessed on the grand list, and all procedures and remedies for the collection of taxes shall apply to the collection of those expenses; provided, however, that the town, city, or incorporated village has adopted rules to determine the habitability of a building, including provisions for notice in accordance with 32 V.S.A. § 5252(3) to the building’s owner prior to incurring expenses and including provisions for an administrative appeals process.

    (25) To regulate by means of an ordinance or bylaw development in a flood hazard area, river corridor protection area, or other hazard area consistent with the requirements of section 4424 of this title and the National Flood Insurance Program. Such an ordinance or bylaw may regulate accessory dwelling units in flood hazard and fluvial erosion areas. However, such an ordinance or bylaw shall not require the filing of an application or the issuance of a permit or other approval by the municipality for a planting project considered to have a permit by operation of subsection 4424(c) of this title.

    (26) To regulate parking lots and parking meters on public property or public highways of the municipality, including the power to set parking fees and use parking revenues for any municipal purpose. Projects relating to parking lots and parking meters under this subdivision shall constitute an improvement under chapter 53 of this title, and a municipality shall have the right of eminent domain to condemn land necessary for such projects subject to the restrictions set forth in section 2805 of this title and 18 V.S.A. § 5318.

    (27) When a disaster or emergency has been declared by the Governor, a municipal building inspector, health officer, fire marshal, or zoning administrator may declare condemned to be destroyed a property that has been damaged in the disaster or emergency and is dangerous to life, health, or safety due to the disaster-related damage. The local legislative body may require that an official receive training on disaster-related condemnation before he or she may condemn property under this subdivision. The owner of property condemned under this subdivision may appeal the condemnation according to the condemnation appeals procedure of chapter 83 of this title, provided that any appeal to the Superior Court shall be to the Civil Division.

    (28) 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 an ordinance 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 ordinance to such a plant. The ordinance 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 chapter 117 of this title or, if the municipality does not have other bylaws except flood hazard, 10 V.S.A. chapter 151.

    (B) In this subdivision (28), “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 (28) shall not authorize requiring a municipal permit for a solar electric generation plant. Notwithstanding any contrary provision of this title, enforcement of an ordinance 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.

    (29) To regulate by means of an ordinance or bylaw the operation of short-term rentals within the municipality, provided that the ordinance or bylaw does not adversely impact the availability of long-term rental housing. As used in this subdivision, “short-term rental” means a furnished house, condominium, or other dwelling room or self-contained dwelling unit rented to the transient, traveling, or vacationing public for a period of fewer than 30 consecutive days and for more than 14 days per calendar year. (Added 1969, No. 170 (Adj. Sess.), § 9, eff. March 2, 1970; amended 1977, No. 61, § 2; 1987, No. 70, eff. June 2, 1987; 1991, No. 108, § 1; 1993, No. 211 (Adj. Sess.), § 15, eff. June 17, 1994; 1997, No. 94 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. April 15, 1998; 1999, No. 82 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2001, No. 82 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2003, No. 42, § 2, eff. May 27, 2003; 2003, No. 63, § 51, eff. June 11, 2003; 2005, No. 173 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. May 22, 2006; 2007, No. 79, § 14, eff. June 9, 2007; 2007, No. 121 (Adj. Sess.), § 19; 2009, No. 45, § 15g; 2009, No. 160 (Adj. Sess.), § 9, eff. June 4, 2010; 2011, No. 53, §§ 14a, 14d(2), eff. May 27, 2011; 2011, No. 138 (Adj. Sess.), § 15, eff. May 14, 2012; 2011, No. 155 (Adj. Sess.), § 8; 2013, No. 16, § 6, eff. May 6, 2013; 2013, No. 122 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 2013, No. 162 (Adj. Sess.), § 11; 2015, No. 56, § 26e, eff. June 11, 2015; 2017, No. 4, § 3, eff. March 6, 2017; 2017, No. 74, § 99; 2017, No. 79, § 15, eff. June 14, 2017; 2019, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 255; 2019, No. 179 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. Oct. 12, 2020; 2021, No. 157 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. July 1, 2022.)