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

 

When Do I Need to Apply for a Zoning Permit?

From Article 3 of the Comprehensive Development Ordinance:

Sec. 3.1.2 Zoning Permit Required

Except for that development which is exempt from a permit requirement under Sec. 3.1.2(c) below, no development may be commenced within the city without a zoning permit issued by the administrative officer including but not limited to the following types of exterior and interior work:

(a) Exterior Work:

  1. Additions to existing buildings, garages, accessory buildings, or other structures.
  2. Alterations to building elevations/appearances including, but not limited to, re-siding or window replacement (or addition) or other changes that alter trim details or otherwise change the exterior appearance.
  3. Change of use or expansion of use.
  4. Demolition.
  5. Alterations, changes, or modifications to building lots or sites related to site improvements including, but not limited to, increased lot coverage.
  6. Excavation or fill related to site improvements.
  7. Fences, retaining walls.
  8. Land clearing and development.
  9. Tree removal involving six (6) or more trees, each of ten (10) inches or greater in caliper or the removal of ten (10) or more trees, each of which is three (3) inches or greater in caliper during any consecutive twelve (12) month period. Such land development shall require the advance approval of the DRB under the criteria set forth in Article 6, Part 2 hereof before a zoning permit may be issued.
  10. Exterior lighting.
  11. New buildings, garages, sheds, accessory buildings, and other structures.
  12. New or expanded parking areas, driveways, and walkways. Including paving existing gravel surfaces.
  13. Porches, patios, and decks.
  14. Satellite dish antennae over 12 inches in diameter, wireless telecommunications facilities, or other antennae.
  15. Signs.
  16. Site improvements.
  17. Placement of exterior utility meters and dumpsters.
  18. Swimming pools (installation and removal).
  19. Subdivision of land or any boundary or lot line adjustment between two or more lots.
  20. Permanent handicapped ramps (for temporary ramps installed for fewer than 90 days, see Non-Applicability, All Districts).

(b) Interior work:

  1. Increase in habitable living space (including, but not limited to, attic, bedroom, basement, garage, and winterizing or otherwise enclosing a porch).
  2. Installation of additional kitchen.
  3. Change in use.
  4. Home occupations.
  5. Increase or decrease in the number of units.

(c) Exemptions:

The following shall be exempt from the requirements of this Ordinance and shall not be required to obtain a zoning permit:

  1. Exterior modifications to a single family dwelling in a non-design review portion of the RL zoning district lawfully in existence prior to the adoption of this ordinance on a conforming lot, and not on or eligible for listing on the State or National Register of Historic Places. Such an exemption shall not be applicable to any of the following changes, which do require a zoning permit:
    1. Increased lot coverage;
    2. Increased habitable living space;
    3. Changes in setbacks or building footprints;
    4. Construction of additional stories to an existing structure; and
    5. Improvements in a Special Flood Hazard Area.
  2. The removal of trees from any lot containing a single family home or duplex which consists of no more than three-quarters (3/4) of one acre.
  3. Individual tree removal projects that are included under an approved and valid “tree maintenance plan”.
  4. The maintenance or repair of any exterior architectural feature, or its replacement in-kind, which does not involve a change in the location, design, material, or the outward appearance of the feature;
  5. Temporary ramps to serve the handicapped or disabled, for a period of not more than 90 days.
  6. Public utility power generating plants and transmission facilities regulated under 30 V.S.A. §248.
  7. Accepted agricultural and silvicultural practices, including the construction of farm structures, as those practices are defined by the secretary of agriculture, food and markets or the commissioner of forests, parks and recreation, respectively, under 10 VSA §1021(f) and 1259(f) and 6 VSA §4810. Prior to the construction of farm structures the farmer must notify the Administrative Officer in writing of the proposed activity. The notice must contain a sketch of the proposed structure including setbacks.
  8. The temporary stabilization and securing of any structure, site, or building feature required to address an unsafe or dangerous condition which poses an imminent threat to public safety pursuant to a written order of the same issued under the authority of the city building inspector.
  9. Where temporary stabilization is not reasonably available the emergency demolition of any structure, site, or building feature required to address an unsafe or dangerous condition which poses an imminent threat to public safety pursuant to a order of the same issued under the written authority of the city building inspector and with the written concurrence of the city engineer. This exemption does not extend beyond the required demolition, clearing of debris, securing or filling cellar holes, and related erosion control and stormwater management.

Determination of Non-Applicability:

A determination of non-applicability may be made by the administrative officer and a written decision issued outlining the request of the applicant and that a zoning permit is not required. Photographs of the property shall be required to document the existing condition. The determination may be made and a decision may be issued the same-day, but shall be subject to the appeal period for administrative determinations as outlined in Sec. 3.2.9 and Article 12.

From Article 13 of the Comprehensive Development Ordinance:

Sec. 13.1.2 Definitions

Development: Any building, construction, renovation, mining, extraction, dredging, filling, excavation, or drilling activity or operation; any material change in the use or appearance of any structure or in the land itself; including but not limited to the division of land into parcels; any change in the intensity or use of land, such as an increase in the number of dwelling units in a structure or a change to a commercial or industrial use from a less intensive use; any human activity that alters a shore, beach, river, stream, lake, pond, canal, marsh, woodlands, wetland, rare or endangered species habitat, aquifer or other resource area, including shoreland construction or other activity.