City of Burlington, Vermont City of Burlington, Vermont

Department of Planning & Zoning
City Hall,  Burlington, Vermont 05401
Phone: 802-865-7188 Fax: 802-865-7195


Appealing a Zoning Decision

State law enables the appeal of all zoning decisions within a designated appeal period. Administrative (staff) decisions have a fifteen (15) day appeal period, and for DRB decisions the appeal period is thirty (30) days. It is not until this appeal period has expired that the Planning and Zoning Department can finalize the permit and release it to the applicant.

By State law, only "Interested Persons" may file an appeal. See definition of an Interested Persons under Appeal Rights.

Appeals of Administrative Decisions:

Once a permit decision has been made by the Zoning Administrator, only qualified "Interested Persons" (applicants automatically qualify) may appeal the decision within 15 days of the decision date. This is done by filling out the Appeal Request Form (scroll down to Checklists - Appeal). Submit the form to the Department of Planning and Zoning with the correct fee and all required information below BEFORE the 15-day appeal period expires.

In addition to the Appeal Request form and fee payment, Section 12.2.2 of the Comprehensive Development Ordinance specifies what information must be submitted BEFORE the 15-day appeal period expires:

  1. The name and address of the appellant;
  2. A brief description of the property with respect to which the appeal is taken;
  3. A reference to the regulatory provisions applicable to that appeal;
  4. The relief requested by the appellant; and,
  5. The alleged grounds why such requested relief is believed proper under the circumstances.

The appeal will then be scheduled to be heard by the Development Review Board at the next available meeting. The DRB will either uphold or overturn the administrative decision.

Appeals of Development Review Board Decisions:

Appeals of DRB decisions are made to the Vermont Superior Court Environmental Division (VSCED). DRB decisions may be appealed by Interested Persons within 30 days from the date of the decision. The decision date is the date that the Findings of Fact from the board are signed by the DRB Chair.

Appeals of DRB decisions are made directly to the VSCED and must be filed within the 30-day appeal period at the VSCED in Barre, VT, not the Department of Planning and Zoning. The VSCED has separate fees and protocols. To find out more about appealing to the VSCED, contact them directly at 802-828-1660.

The VSCED considers the permit application as if it were the DRB hearing the application for the very first time. They can either approve or deny the application. It can also remand the application back to the DRB, or dismiss the appeal altogether. It is strongly recommended that both parties retain legal counsel to represent them at the VSCED.

Appeals of VSCED Decisions and Beyond:

VSCED decisions are appealed to the Vermont Supreme Court. The Vermont Supreme Court either upholds or overturns the VSCED decision.

Vermont Supreme Court decisions are appealed to the United States Supreme Court. The US Supreme Court either upholds or overturns the Vermont Supreme Court decision.