Department of Planning & Zoning

Position Description


The Planning Commission (PC) has the overall responsibility of developing, and recommending to the City Council, land use and development policy for the City. This typically takes two forms - first, the development of plans and capacity studies (including the City Master Plan and Capital Improvement Plan), and second, the development of land use regulations (subdivision bylaws, zoning regulations, etc). Final action on any plans, policies, and regulations developed by the Commission is taken by the City Council. Planning Commissions are created under the authority enabled under Vermont State Statute 24 VSA Chapter 117 §4325, which outlines their roles and responsibilities.

The Planning Commission has no direct regulatory authority, and does not review development proposals or issue permits. The Planning Commission has three standing committees - Executive, Long Range Planning, and Ordinance.

The Commission is comprised of seven volunteers appointed by the City Council to 3-year terms who must be residents of Burlington. Staff assistance is provided by the Department of Planning and Zoning. The Board currently meets twice each month on the second and fourth Tuesday evenings beginning at 6:30 pm. 

Essential Job Functions:

  • Prepare a municipal development plan and capital improvement plan, and any necessary amendments, for consideration by the City Council.
  • Prepare municipal bylaws governing land use and development (e.g. zoning, subdivision, official map, etc), and any necessary amendments, for consideration by the City Council.
  • Undertake studies and related plans, and make recommendations to the City Council, on topics including land development, transportation, economic and social development, urban beautification and design improvements, capital improvement plans, historic and scenic preservation, the conservation of energy, the development of renewable energy resources, and natural resource protection.
  • Attend training sessions to keep abreast of current trends in municipal planning.
  • Cooperate with other municipal or regional planning commissions, and other agencies or groups, to further local planning programs and to assure harmonious and integrated planning for the city and the region.


  • Interest in the fields of historic preservation, architectural history, architecture, landscape architecture, planning, natural resources, civil engineering, real estate, construction, or land use law is encouraged.
  • Ability to read and interpret maps, site plans, aerial photographs, building elevations and other related plans and drawings.
  • Ability to work effectively with other city boards and commissions, Department staff, and the public in a professional and courteous manner.
  • Attention to detail, and ability to think in abstract terms.
  • Patience and open mindedness.
  • Willingness to listen, learn, and compromise.
  • Ability to make decisions based on the best interests of the community as a whole, rather than those of an applicant or special-interest group.

Time Requirements:

The PC meets a minimum of two (2) evenings per month for meetings lasting approximately 2-3 hours. Click here for the Current Meeting Schedule. In addition, an average of 4 to 6 hours per month is required to review agenda items submitted in the Planning Commission packets that are emailed 4-7 days in advance of a meeting. Additionally, each standing committee meets monthly for 1-2 hours.

Application Process:

  • Pick-up an Application from the City Clerk-Treasurer's Office in City Hall.
  • Applicants for vacant positions must be nominated by a City Councilor. The Clerk-Treasurer's Office can provide contact information.
  • Return completed applications to the Clerk-Treasurer's Office by the due date, which is typically in late May of each year. Check the Clerk-Treasurer's website for current vacancies and deadlines to apply.
  • The City Council will make its appointments in June for positions that begin their term in July.  For more information about Boards & Commissions, click here.