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Note: The FAQ’s listed here are intended only to provide general guidance and basic responses to frequently asked questions. They are not a complete iteration of the regulations; additional restrictions may apply, especially in unique scenarios. Only application and written approval can guarantee compliance. Please speak with our Administrative Officer with any questions or to seek clarity.
Where are you located?
The Department of Planning and Zoning is located on the 3rd Floor of the South Burlington Library / City Hall at 180 Market Street.
What are your hours?
Temporary Measures due to Covid-19: City Hall is open to the public Monday to Friday, 9:00 am to 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm, except holidays.
I want to have a garage/yard sale. What do I need to know?
Garage/yard sales are permitted no more than 8 times per year (each separate day counts as a separate sale) for any given property. You do not need a permit. We do ask that you refrain from posting signage, particularly in the road right of way, and especially where it would be detrimental to safe vehicle operation and visibility, or obstruct pedestrian and bicycle access.
Do I need a permit to build a shed?
All sheds, regardless of size, base, or permanency, require a zoning permit. Properties of less than one acre are limited to two accessory structures. Generally, most sheds cannot exceed 15 feet in height, and combined may not be larger than 50% of the footprint of the principal dwelling unit (house). Sheds are not permitted in the front yard.
Do I need a permit to replace a deck or porch?
All new decks, regardless of size, require a zoning permit. Overall coverage of a lot is limited by zoning district. Deck repairs which do not exceed $5,000 and do not change the footprint of the building do not require a permit. Requests to screen in decks or porches, or create three-season or all-season spaces require a permit regardless of cost of construction.
Do I need a permit to install a patio made of pavers, concrete, or bricks?
Patios made of pavers, concrete, or bricks placed directly on the ground do not require a permit. However, the addition of such a patio may not exceed the overall coverage permitted for the given zoning district.
Do I need a permit to remodel the interior of my home?
Interior construction or remodeling which does not change the footprint of the structure but exceeds $5,000 in total costs requires a zoning permit. Any construction, regardless of cost, which creates an additional kitchen area or apartment, requires administrative review and a permit. Painting and carpet replacement do not require permits and do not need to be counted in the cost of home improvement. Note: Building Permits from the Fire Marshall's office may also be required.
Do I need a permit to create an accessory apartment or in-law apartment?
Yes. The addition of secondary space that has independent cooking facilities constitutes an accessory residential unit. The good news is that we permit them in all zoning districts provided several limitations are followed. See Section 3.10 of the SB Land Development Regulations for more information. UPDATE Fall 2020: With the passage of Act 179 (S. 237), the Vermont Legislature has expanded opportunities for Accessory Dwelling Units. The City will shortly be updating its Regulations for consistency. In the meantime, please contact the Administrative Officer to learn about expanded opportunities for approval with receipt of a Zoning Permit. Construction which does not increase the floor area of the existing dwelling unit likely only requires a zoning permit and wastewater allocation.
Do I need a permit to install a swimming pool?
Any swimming pool which does is not erected and deconstructed seasonally requires a zoning permit. All pools must be at least 10 feet from the water’s edge to the property line. In-ground swimming pools must be completely enclosed by a wall, fence, or other substantial structure not less than 4 feet in height. Above ground pools shall bar access when not in use. Decks and pool-houses associated with pools are regulated separately and will require a permit as well.
Do I need a permit to install a fence?
Fences that are shorter than four (4) feet do not require a permit. Fences between four feet and eight feet require a zoning permit. Fences shall be erected within but not on property boundaries. Where fences have two different sides, the smooth or finished side shall face the abutting property, and fence posts shall be placed on the inside of the fence. Additional restrictions exist for fences in Queen City Park, R-1 Lakeview, and Lakeshore Neighborhood Districts, and for any fence proposed in a front yard or taller than eight feet.
Do a need a permit to replace siding or resurface my roof
Replacement siding and roofing which exceeds $5,000 in total costs (this includes labor) requires a zoning permit. Note also that in the City Center Form Based Code District, certain materials requirements apply.
Do I need a permit to resurface or widen my driveway?
Simple reconstruction, re-paving, or re-surfacing of residential driveways do not require a permit. However, if you are proposing to widen a driveway, particularly where it meets the road at the ‘curb-cut’ you should contact our office for more information and guidance.
Do I need a permit to have backyard chickens?
Single family homes may have up to six chickens, but no roosters. A Backyard Chicken Permit is required. For more information about location, size of structures, and chickens with multi-family dwellings, see the Backyard Chicken Ordinance
What is the difference between a "zoning permit" and a "building permit"?
While the terms are often used interchangeably in the community, the Planning and Zoning office offers and issues Zoning permits.
The City’s Fire Marshal has oversight over Building permits. A Building Permit is required-by State Statute- any time any type of construction is being performed on a building that is not a single family, wholly owner-occupied home. The Fire Marshal’s Office can assist you in this process. Please contact the City Fire Marshal’s Office (846-4134) for more information.
It is possible that your project may require permits from both departments. This requirement is predicated on the scope and complexity of your project. Please contact both departments with your questions. Failure to secure the appropriate permits subjects your project to unnecessary delays, possible stoppage of work, and/or civil fines.
For the sake of this document, referenced permits generally mean zoning permits, as administered by the Department of Planning and Zoning.
How long does it take to get a permit?
We make every effort to ensure that a staff member authorized to issue permits is available. When an authorized staff member is present, most permits can be issued while you wait. When a staff member is unavailable, we may make every effort to issue permits as soon as possible. State law provides for up to 30 days to issue a decision on permits. Once issued, all permits are subject to a state-legislated 15-day appeal period. Please note that some projects may require review by the Development Review Board or Administrative Officer and could take more time.
Does to City have electrical or building codes?
The City does not have a local building or electrical code. Generally, for any type of construction being performed on a building that is not a single family, wholly owner-occupied home, the City applies the State Fire and Building Safety Code. South Burlington has adopted separate addendums to the State Code, to address specific fire and building safety concerns in the City. Contact the Fire Marshal's Office for additional details.
What are your permit fees?
Residential zoning permits are calculated at $5 per $1,000 of construction costs, plus a $13 recording fee. There is a minimum permit fee of $43 for work up to $6,000. See our full list of permit fees.
I'm selling my house / condo. Do I need anything from the Planning & Zoning Department?
The Planning and Zoning Department does not require that sellers obtain any documents to sell their home. However, many realtors and real estate attorneys advise their clients- sometimes sellers and buyers- to obtain a Certificate of Compliance. You should speak with your realtor or attorney to determine if this is necessary.
What is the difference between a Certificate of Compliance and a Certificate of Occupancy?
A Certificate of Compliance asserts that there are no known zoning violations on a property. Though not required by the City, it is often advised by realtors. A Certificate of Occupancy is required prior to the initial occupancy of any multi-family dwelling or non-residential building.
How do I find out what zoning district a property is in?
You may check the most recent Zoning Map or call our office.
Am I allowed to have a home based business?
Home-based businesses are permitted with restrictions, and do require a permit. Generally, these ‘Home Occupations’ are permitted provided that the business is owned by the principal occupant of the building, that the total space devoted to the home occupation doesn’t exceed 25% of the ground floor area of the dwelling, that there are no external displays or evidence of such use (except for restricted signage), that there are no more than two employees or helpers other than members of the household, and that the use is not conducted in such a manner to be obnoxious or detrimental to the immediate neighborhood.
I am considering buying or leasing space and am proposing a different use of that building. Who should I contact?
Please contact Ray Belair, Zoning Administrator for questions related to commercial property use. He can be reached via email or phone at (802) 846-4106
I own a business. May I put out a temporary sign?
Business owners have several options for temporary signs. A business may display an A-frame (sandwich board) sign, or a banner which does not exceed 32 square feet in size or eight (8) feet in height. Businesses may choose to display their sign for either (a) one consecutive week per month; (b) two consecutive weeks every other month; or (3) one day per week (must be same day of the week- example, every Tuesday) for one month. A permit is required, with a fee of $5.
What are the City's Election Signage rules?
Within the right-of-way along City streets, temporary campaign signs may be displayed for a period of not more than two weeks within the highway right of way. Signs may not be located within state highway rights-of-way or attached to a state or town sign, post, or guardrail. Signs may not be attached to trees or to utility poles. They may not interfere with traffic control signs or prevent drivers from having a clear and unobstructed view of traffic control signs or approaching traffic.
I want to find out more information about a project I saw. Who do I contact?
For information about a project under review by the Development Review Board, contact Marla Keene. For projects under construction, contact Dalila Hall. Both can be reached via email or by calling (802) 846-4106.
What is the status of City Center?
City Center is a go! Several private and public sector projects are underway. Visit the City Center portion of our website to learn more and for the latest details.
Who do I contact with questions about the Airport?
There are several resources available for those with questions about the Airport, which is owned and operated by the City of Burlington. For plans, current projects, contacts or information about the Airport’s Sound Committee, visit the Airport’s website, www.btv.aero, and click on Community Connections. For information about resolutions and input prepared by the City of South Burlington, contact Paul Conner, Director of Planning & Zoning.