City Planning

planBTV: Comprehensive Plan

Our principal guide to land use.

Our comprehensive plan outlines Burlington's goals and objectives for the future and is the City's principal guide directing land use policy and decision-making. It defines the policies, programs, and actions necessary to attain our objectives, helps the city prepare for the future, and provides a reliable basis for public and private investment. The plan also recognizes that our population, economy, and environment are always changing; as such, planBTV is always a work in progress, evolving to reflect the ways in which we are seeking to address our community's needs, and improve what we do and how we do it. 

Our comprehensive plan is a roadmap.

The plan does not provide definitive answers to all of the questions we have about our future. In some cases, it identifies issues that will require further study and discussion. It's up to us as public, private, institutional, and citizen organizations to implement this plan by using it as guidance as we evaluate the various routes that will lead us to our destination: our future vision. As we create supplemental plans, programs, and policies which affect land use, development, infrastructure, the environment, the economy, etc. we must ensure that the specific actions and projects we choose are consistent with the vision and policies found in this overarching plan. 

    Visit planBTV: Comprehensive Plan Online!

    Our Comprehensive Plan got a whole new look when it was updated and readopted in March 2019! It is now available as a website, where you can browse information specific to the plan's themes or geographic areas, view interactive maps, and download all or part of the plan in PDF form to read offline. Check it out at 

    How we use this plan

    Since the 1970's, Burlington has used its Comprehensive Plan to inform a whole range of planning, land use, and development activities. The Plan's vision and policy direction informs the work of City departments, boards and commissions, and even non-governmental organizations and institutions. Over the years, this plan has provided direction for maintaining and updating the City's Comprehensive Development Ordinance (a.k.a. zoning), has inspired underutilized properties to be revitalized, has led to the identification of priority lands for conservation, recommended the creation of new programs and funding mechanisms to address priority issues, and has even directed the creation of other plans and studies to investigate issues and areas of the city more thoroughly (such as the Downtown & Waterfront!). 

    This plan is also prepared according to the State of Vermont Municipal and Regional Planning and Development Act, which identifies a set of common state-wide planning goals that all communities must address, and identifies how we will do our part to address these statewide priorities. By adopting a plan that considers these priority issues, the City of Burlington is authorized to use a series of tools to implement our plan, including:

    • Adopt and amend zoning regulations (Comprehensive Development Ordinance)
    • Adopt a capital plan and budget 
    • Assess impact fees on development projects to fund the capital plan
    • Designate state-recognized growth areas, while offer regulatory and financial benefits to the City and property owners
    • Apply for Municipal Planning Grants and other funding for planning, brownfield remediation, transportation improvements, affordable housing, and more
    • Influence state regulatory proceedings including Act 250 Land Use permits and Section 248 Certificates of Public Good


    For more information about planning in Burlington, contact Principal Planner, Charles Dillard at