City of Burlington, Vermont City of Burlington, Vermont

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

 

The Zoning Review Process

Getting a permit for a construction project in Burlington doesn't have to be a confusing process. In almost every case you will need to get both a zoning and a construction permit from the City. Once all of the permits have been approved and the work has been completed in accordance with those permits, you will need a Unified Final Certificate of Occupancy (completes both the zoning and construction permit processes) from the Code Enforcement Office before you can start using the new/renovated space.

Please take a few minutes to read the following information to be sure you understand what you can expect from the process. | Process Flowchart |

Administrative versus Development Review Board Review

Once a Zoning Permit application has been received, staff will review the information to make sure everything is complete and we have the information needed to make a decision. Final decisions are made either administratively by the Planning and Zoning staff, or by the Development Review Board. Section 2.3.4 of the Comprehensive Development Ordinance authorizes Planning and Zoning staff to decide or act upon zoning permit applications.

Approximately 90% of all of the applications received are acted upon administratively. This typically takes a week or two to make a decision (not including the required appeal period, see below), but can take up to 30-days depending on the complexity of the project and existing staff workloads.

The remaining approximate 10% of applications are reviewed by the Development Review Board (DRB). These applications are generally for larger and more complex projects, and their review can take 8 weeks or more. Applications involving most Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) Level II and all COA Level III, Conditional Use, Major Impact, and appeals of administrative decisions go to the DRB, which meets twice monthly. See Submission Deadlines for dates by which a complete zoning permit application must have been received in order to be heard at a given DRB meeting.

The City also has two advisory boards who make recommendations to the Development Review Board and staff regarding certain types of zoning permit applications. These advisory boards are:

The meetings of these two boards are open to the public, and their recommendations are forwarded to the DRB (and in some cases to the Planning staff) who makes the final decision. Zoning staff decides whether an application will be considered by either the DAB or CB. The applicant may request a hearing before either if desired.

Once a decision has been made, the application goes into a state-mandated Appeal Period. During this time a zoning decision may be appealed. The appeal period for administrative decisions is fifteen (15) calendar days, and thirty (30) calendar days for DRB decisions.

A Zoning Permit can be released by the Planning staff after the close of the appeal period and after all pre-release permit conditions have been met and outstanding fees have been paid. The applicant must sign the zoning permit acknowledging that they have read and agree to the Conditions of Approval.

Public Notice

State law requires that public notice be given for all requests for a Zoning Permit. Every applicant is provided with a "Z-Card" to post in a place visible from the street, and information regarding all applications are posted on the Planning Department's website in real time. See Permit Status Reports.

For applications that must be reviewed by the DRB, all abutting property owners will receive written public notice in the US Mail of an upcoming DRB meeting where they will consider the application. Others with ongoing interested in the Zoning Review process (NPA Steering Committees, City Councilors, etc.) get a copy of all DRB meeting agendas emailed to them. In addition, the CDO requires public notice in the newspaper for certain types of projects such as Conditional Uses, Major Impact Review, Variances, and others where a Public Hearing is required. All DRB Meeting Agendas are posted on this web site.

Construction Permits

Nearly every Zoning Permit will also require a Construction Permit (Building Permit) which assures compliance with applicable building, electrical, plumbing, and fire suppression codes and other City ordinances. Construction Permits are issued by the Dept. of Public Works Inspection Services Division AFTER a Zoning Permit has been released by the Zoning Department.

Unified Certificate of Occupancy

Once all of the work has been completed you will need a Unified Certificate of Occupancy (UCO - completes both the zoning and construction permit processes) before you can start using the new/renovated space. UCO's are issued by the Code Enforcement Office whose job it is to ensure that all of the work was completed in accordance with the permits that were issued.