The Vermont Statutes Online
Subchapter 010 : Appropriate Municipal Panels(Cite as: 24 V.S.A. § 4464)
§ 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.
(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 quasi-judicial 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.)