Inclusionary Zoning

Background on Burlington Inclusionary Zoning 

Burlington is largely "built-out." A combination of limiting geography, conservation efforts by local residents and a thriving job market has led to a persistent "housing afffordability and availability crisis." In response, Burlington adopted its inclusionary zoning program in 1990 as part of its broader housing strategy. 

Burlington was the first locally initiated inclusionary zoning program to index its affordable housing set-aside to the price of the market-rate homes. Many believe this tiered approach, also utilized by Santa Fe, is the most effective for local governments. Another first for Burlington was the 99 year or permanent control period. Longer control periods are one of the national trends among newer locally initiated programs. The program allows any density bonus to be used for commercial purposes in mixed-use developments - a flexible incentive that is likely valuable to developers. 

Program Overview 

The program applies to all new market-rate developments of 5 or more homes and to any converted non-residential structures that result in at least 10 homes. The affordable housing set aside is 15 to 25% of the units, depending on the average price of the market-rate homes - with the higher percentage placed on the most expensive developments. The ordinance does not allow fee in-lieu payments or land donations, but will allow developers to provide the affordable housing off-site at 125% of the on-site obligation. The ordinance provides a range of incentives including fee waivers and a 15-25% density and lot coverage bonus. Affordable homes are targeted to households earning 75% or less area median income (AMI) and rented at 65% or less AMI. Developers can sell or rent the homes for more as long as the average of affordable homes sold or rented are at or below the target household income. Affordable homes are price controlled for 99 years.

For more information pertaining to Inclusionary Zoning, please contact Todd Rawlings at trawlings@burlingtonvt.gov or call 802-652-4209.

Evaluation & Revision Process 

The Housing Action Plan, adopted by Council in 2015, called for a study of the Inclusionary Zoning ordinance to "consider revisions [to the ordinance] to better meet housing goals and complement  the Housing Trust Fund." Below, you can find information about this review, and the subsequent recommendations that have resulted.