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 affordability 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. As of 2019, the ordinance allows offsite option and payment-in-lieu options in some circumstances. 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 70% or less of area median income (AMI) and rented at 65% or less the area median income. Developers can sell or rent the homes for up to 100% of AMI. Affordable homes are price controlled for 99 years.

For more information pertaining to Inclusionary Zoning, please contact Rebeka Lawrence-Gomez at rlawrencegomez@burlingtonvt.gov or call 802-734-8019.