The Vermont Statutes Online

Title 24: Municipal and County Government

Chapter 117: MUNICIPAL AND REGIONAL PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT

Sub-Chapter 007: Bylaws

24 V.S.A. § 4412. Required provisions and prohibited effects



§ 4412. Required provisions and prohibited effects

Notwithstanding any existing bylaw, the following land development provisions shall apply in every municipality:

(1) Equal treatment of housing and required provisions for affordable housing.

(A) No bylaw nor its application by an appropriate municipal panel under this chapter shall have the effect of excluding housing that meets the needs of the population as determined in the housing element of its municipal plan as required under subdivision 4382(a)(10) of this title or the effect of discriminating in the permitting of housing as specified in 9 V.S.A. § 4503.

(B) Except as provided in subdivisions 4414(1)(E) and (F) of this title, no bylaw shall have the effect of excluding mobile homes, modular housing, or prefabricated housing from the municipality, except upon the same terms and conditions as conventional housing is excluded. A municipality may establish specific site standards in the bylaws to regulate individual sites within preexisting mobile home parks with regard to distances between structures and other standards as necessary to ensure public health, safety, and welfare, provided the standards do not have the effect of prohibiting the replacement of mobile homes on existing lots.

(C) No bylaw shall have the effect of excluding mobile home parks, as defined in 10 V.S.A. chapter 153, from the municipality.

(D) Bylaws shall designate appropriate districts and reasonable regulations for multiunit or multifamily dwellings. No bylaw shall have the effect of excluding these multiunit or multifamily dwellings from the municipality.

(E) Except for flood hazard and fluvial erosion area bylaws adopted pursuant to section 4424 of this title, no bylaw shall have the effect of excluding as a permitted use one accessory dwelling unit that is located within or appurtenant to an owner-occupied single-family dwelling. An accessory dwelling unit means an efficiency or one-bedroom apartment that is clearly subordinate to a single-family dwelling, and has facilities and provisions for independent living, including sleeping, food preparation, and sanitation, provided there is compliance with all the following:

(i) The property has sufficient wastewater capacity.

(ii) The unit does not exceed 30 percent of the total habitable floor area of the single-family dwelling.

(iii) Applicable setback, coverage, and parking requirements specified in the bylaws are met.

(F) Nothing in subdivision (1)(E) of this section shall be construed to prohibit:

(i) a bylaw that is less restrictive of accessory dwelling units;

(ii) a bylaw that requires conditional use review for one or more of the following that is involved in creation of an accessory dwelling unit:

(I) a new accessory structure;

(II) an increase in the height or floor area of the existing dwelling; or

(III) an increase in the dimensions of the parking areas.

(G) A residential care home or group home to be operated under State licensing or registration, serving not more than eight persons who have a handicap or disability as defined in 9 V.S.A. § 4501, shall be considered by right to constitute a permitted single-family residential use of property, except that no such home shall be so considered if it is located within 1,000 feet of another existing or permitted such home.

(2) Existing small lots. Any lot that is legally subdivided, is in individual and separate and nonaffiliated ownership from surrounding properties, and is in existence on the date of enactment of any bylaw, including an interim bylaw, may be developed for the purposes permitted in the district in which it is located, even though the small lot no longer conforms to minimum lot size requirements of the new bylaw or interim bylaw.

(A) A municipality may prohibit development of a lot if either of the following applies:

(i) the lot is less than one-eighth acre in area; or

(ii) the lot has a width or depth dimension of less than 40 feet.

(B) The bylaw may provide that if an existing small lot subsequently comes under common ownership with one or more contiguous lots, the nonconforming lot shall be deemed merged with the contiguous lot. However, a nonconforming lot shall not be deemed merged and may be separately conveyed if all the following apply:

(i) The lots are conveyed in their preexisting, nonconforming configuration.

(ii) On the effective date of any bylaw, each lot was developed with a water supply and wastewater disposal system.

(iii) At the time of transfer, each water supply and wastewater system is functioning in an acceptable manner.

(iv) The deeds of conveyance create appropriate easements on both lots for replacement of one or more wastewater systems, potable water systems, or both, in case there is a failed system or failed supply as defined in 10 V.S.A. chapter 64.

(C) Nothing in this subdivision (2) shall be construed to prohibit a bylaw that is less restrictive of development of existing small lots.

(3) Required frontage on, or access to, public roads, class 4 town highways, or public waters. Land development may be permitted on lots that do not have frontage either on a public road, class 4 town highway, or public waters, provided that access through a permanent easement or right-of-way has been approved in accordance with standards and process specified in the bylaws. This approval shall be pursuant to subdivision bylaws adopted in accordance with section 4418 of this title, or where subdivision bylaws have not been adopted or do not apply, through a process and pursuant to standards defined in bylaws adopted for the purpose of assuring safe and adequate access. Any permanent easement or right-of-way providing access to such a road or waters shall be at least 20 feet in width.

(4) Protection of home occupations. No bylaw may infringe upon the right of any resident to use a minor portion of a dwelling unit for an occupation that is customary in residential areas and that does not have an undue adverse effect upon the character of the residential area in which the dwelling is located.

(5) Child care. A "family child care home or facility" as used in this subdivision means a home or facility where the owner or operator is to be licensed or registered by the State for child care. A family child care home serving six or fewer children shall be considered to constitute a permitted single-family residential use of property. A family child care home serving no more than six full-time children and four part-time children, as defined in subdivision 33 V.S.A. § 4902(3)(A), shall be considered to constitute a permitted use of property but may require site plan approval based on local zoning requirements. A family child care facility serving more than six full-time and four part-time children may, at the discretion of the municipality, be subject to all applicable municipal bylaws.

(6) Heights of renewable energy resource structures. The height of wind turbines with blades less than 20 feet in diameter, or rooftop solar collectors less than 10 feet high on sloped roofs, any of which are mounted on complying structures, shall not be regulated unless the bylaws provide specific standards for regulation. For the purpose of this subdivision, a sloped roof means a roof having a slope of more than five degrees. In addition, the regulation of antennae that are part of a telecommunications facility, as defined in 30 V.S.A. § 248a, may be exempt from review under this chapter according to the provisions of that section.

(7) Nonconformities. All bylaws shall define how nonconformities will be addressed, including standards for nonconforming uses, nonconforming structures, and nonconforming lots.

(A) To achieve the purposes of this chapter set forth in section 4302 of this title, municipalities may regulate and prohibit expansion and undue perpetuation of nonconformities. Specifically, a municipality, in its bylaws, may:

(i) Specify a time period that shall constitute abandonment or discontinuance of that nonconforming use, provided the time period is not less than six months.

(ii) Specify the extent to which, and circumstances under which, a nonconformity may be maintained or repaired.

(iii) Specify the extent to which, and circumstances under which, a nonconformity may change or expand.

(iv) Regulate relocation or enlargement of a structure containing a nonconforming use.

(v) Specify the circumstances in which a nonconformity that is destroyed may be rebuilt.

(vi) Specify other appropriate circumstances in which a nonconformity must comply with the bylaws.

(B) If a mobile home park, as defined in 10 V.S.A. chapter 153, is a nonconformity pursuant to a municipality's bylaws, the entire mobile home park shall be treated as a nonconformity under those bylaws, and individual lots within the mobile home park shall in no event be considered nonconformities. Unless the bylaws provide specific standards as described in subdivision (1)(B) of this section, where a mobile home park is a nonconformity under bylaws, its status regarding conformance or nonconformance shall apply to the parcel as a whole, and not to any individual mobile home lot within the park. An individual mobile home lot that is vacated shall not be considered a discontinuance or abandonment of a nonconformity.

(C) Nothing in this section shall be construed to restrict the authority of a municipality to abate public nuisances or to abate or remove public health risks or hazards.

(8)(A) Communications antennae and facilities. Except to the extent bylaws protect historic landmarks and structures listed on the State or National Register of Historic Places, no permit shall be required for placement of an antenna used to transmit, receive, or transmit and receive communications signals on that property owner's premises if the area of the largest face of the antenna is not more than 15 square feet, and if the antenna and any mast support do not extend more than 12 feet above the roof of that portion of the building to which the mast is attached.

(B) If an antenna structure is less than 20 feet in height and its primary function is to transmit or receive communication signals for commercial, industrial, institutional, nonprofit, or public purposes, it shall not be regulated under this chapter if it is located on a structure located within the boundaries of a downhill ski area and permitted under this chapter. For the purposes of this subdivision, "downhill ski area" means an area with trails for downhill skiing served by one or more ski lifts and any other areas within the boundaries of the ski area and open to the public for winter sports.

(C) The regulation of a telecommunications facility, as defined in 30 V.S.A. § 248a, shall be exempt from municipal approval under this chapter when and to the extent jurisdiction is assumed by the Public Service Board according to the provisions of that section.

(D) A municipality may regulate communications towers, antennae, and related facilities in its bylaws provided that such regulations do not have the purpose or effect of being inconsistent with subdivisions (A) through (C) of this subdivision (8).

(9) De minimis telecommunications impacts. An officer or entity designated by the municipality shall review telecommunications facilities applications, and upon determining that a particular application will impose no impact or de minimis impact upon any criteria established in the bylaws, shall approve the application. (Added 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 95; amended 2005, No. 172 (Adj. Sess.), § 5, eff. May 22, 2006; 2007, No. 79, § 15; 2007, No. 79, § 15, eff. June 9, 2007; 2009, No. 54, § 45, eff. June 1, 2009; 2011, No. 53, § 14e, eff. May 27, 2011; 2011, No. 137 (Adj. Sess.), § 7, eff. May 14, 2012; 2011, No. 155 (Adj. Sess.), § 14; 2011, No. 170 (Adj. Sess.), § 16e, eff. May 18, 2012; 2013, No. 16, § 5, eff. May 6, 2013.)