Project Dashboard
42% Complete
Project Progress
42% Progress

27% Timing

Start Date
1 April 2023
End Date
31 December 2024
Approved Documents
Complete Milestones
Complete Phases
Complete Tasks
Project Description

The Shelburne Planning Commission is working on a comprehensive revision to the town’s Zoning Bylaw and Subdivision Regulations. This effort is intended to implement the policies of the Shelburne Town Plan, align the town’s land use regulations with recent changes to state statute and improve the town’s ability to efficiently administer its regulations.

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Project Milestones
Regulatory Audit

The regulatory audit of Shelburne’s adopted zoning and subdivision bylaws is the first step towards a comprehensive revision of the adopted zoning and subdivision bylaws. The audit reviews the adopted bylaws, identifies changes that are mandated by state or federal law, and recommends alternative approaches to more effectively implement Shelburne’s policy objectives as expressed in the Town Plan. The audit will function as a resource to guide the Planning Commission’s decision-making as Shelburne considers revised regulations.

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Project Milestones
Complete Draft (version 1.0)

A new zoning map and districts will be proposed to implement the land use policies of the Town Plan and conform to state fair housing and equal treatment of housing requirements.

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Complete Draft (version 2.0)

A complete draft of a unified set of land use regulations (zoning + subdivision) will be produced.

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Project Milestones
Complete Draft (version 3.0)

A complete draft of the unified land use regulations revised in response to public comment.

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Public Hearing Draft (Planning Commission)

A final draft of the unified land use regulations to be advanced through the adoptions process, which begins with the Planning Commission public hearing.

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Public Hearing Draft (Selectboard)

The proposed unified land use regulations as revised and approved by the Planning Commission following their public hearing to be sent to the Selectboard for their consideration. The Selectboard must also hold a public hearing on the draft regulations.

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Project Milestones
Unified Land Use Regulations Adopted

The unified land use regulations as revised and adopted by the Selectboard following their public hearing. The regulations become effective 21 days after the Selectboard votes in favor of adoption.

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Setting the Direction 8 3 / 3 3

The project begins with understanding the policy recommendations of the Town Plan and the statutory requirements that govern municipal land use regulation in Vermont. A plan for engaging the community in the revision project will be developed. At the conclusion of this phase, the Planning Commission will have an overall outline and approach for undertaking the revision project.

Regulatory Audit This is the audit provided to the Planning Commission. It has three elements: (1) an executive summary with nine key findings; (2) an evaluation of housing barriers in Shelburne's adopted regulations as required by the Bylaw Modernization grant partially funding the project; and (3) an assessment of conformance with the policies and recommendations of the 2019 Shelburne Town Plan as regulation are required by statute to be consistent with the Town Plan.
Engagement Strategy This is the engagement strategy for the revision project. It is intended to be a living document that will continue to be developed as work progresses on the project.
18 May 2023 Presentation Summary of the regulatory audit findings presented to the PC.
Working Outline This working outline indicates the general structure planned for the revised regulations. This outline may evolve as the document is crafted and discussed.

I know the Shelburne Regulatory Audit prepared by PlaceSense (PS) is just the first step in a process, but the first step sets the tone for what follows so it’s important.
This document from page one on focuses very heavily on housing. The audit, along with oral remarks by PS consultants in the planning commission meeting where the audit was presented, justified this concentrated focus in part by referencing state level actions to promote housing, including housing bill S.100. At the time of the audit and the meeting, S.100, later to become Act 47, had not yet been passed. It existed only in draft form.
While clearly highlighting state support for housing, the audit by contrast ignores state support for natural resource protection.
Act 47 is now law, and while it undoubtedly promotes creation of needed housing, it also provides real options for municipalities to protect natural resources. The bill carves out the following areas from the new housing rules:
…flood hazard or inundation areas as established by statute, river corridors or fluvial erosion areas as established by statute, shorelands, areas within a zoning district or overlay district the purpose of which is natural resource protection, and wherever year-round residential development is not allowed…
These exceptions allow So Burlington, for example, to preserve municipal level rules that serve four major types of protected area: 1) waterways and associated buffers, 2) forest habitat and wildlife corridors, 3) “natural resource protected areas” (including some farms, etc.) and the South Quadrant of town where only 30% of a property can be developed. 70% must be left undeveloped.
Act 47 thus is not just about saying yes to housing. It gives towns considerable discretion for protecting natural resources.
The legislature gave other striking signals of support for natural resource protection:
1.       After much debate, the legislature chose not to make substantial changes to Act 250, Vermont’s land use law. They might have done otherwise, but recognizing the high priority of resource protection, they decided to move slowly and carefully.
2.       The legislative priority attached to natural resource protection was also evident in the Community Resilience and Biodiversity Protection Act, which, like Act 47, became law at the conclusion of the session. PS’ audit took no notice of this piece of legislation. This new law joins Act 171, passed in 2016, in affirming the state’s intention to expand natural resource protection.
Shelburne’s Town Plan, of course, talks a lot about natural resource protection. In fact, the plan gives at least as much attention to resource protection as it does to growth and housing, perhaps more so. The Town Plan is the essential document because reg. reform must correspond to the goals and objectives in the Plan. The Town Plan emphasizes the need to balance development and protection, two sides of the same coin. The audit does give a nod to the need for balance, but I’m left feeling it’s a half-hearted nod.
The audit mostly addresses natural resource protection with respect to the rural zone only. What it overlooks is that the Town Plan states very emphatically that resource protection is an issue that must be addressed, obviously in different ways, in all areas (regulatory zones) of the town.
Oral commentary by PS in a later planning commission meeting seemed to suggest that they are aware that both development and protection must be on the table. I really hope the process fully embraces both topics. Natural resource protection can’t be treated as an afterthought in this reg. review process if the intention is to use the Town Plan as a guide.

Jim White
25 June 2023 at 3:57 pm

Jim White’s comments are right on point, and clearly expressed. I would add that the consultant recommendation on page 22 of their report anticipates at least some of these issues:
“Retain and strengthen the conservation subdivision provisions in the unserviced areas of town. Consider a formalized process for site evaluation and resource area selection with SNRCC functioning in an advisory committee role as a pre-application step.”

At the last PC meeting I raised a comment about the conservation subdivision process — as referenced in the PlaceSense audit report. I asked if there was a good example of a VT town implementing this process into their bylaws.

The question was never really answered. Comments were made about how most of the recent subdivision activity in the rural Shelburne district have been just small (2-3 parcel) subdivisions, so the issue of clustered development and the application of the “standard” conservation subdivision process was not really applicable. That may be true for recent activity, but I certainly hope that this response was not intended to imply that future large subdivision activity is not a distinct possibility for Shelburne. There are 25 land parcels in Shelburne of 100+ acres, and 15 of these appear to be privately owned and could be developed in the future. The total area of these 15 parcels is over 3.000 acres — about 20% of the total Shelburne land area.

Here is a useful link to a VNRC document that includes a chapter on the principles for conservation subdivision and a description of how they have been implemented through the bylaws in the town of Warren. This particular subject chapter starts on page 54 of the document. These are the kinds of examples that I sincerely hope will be brought forward to the PC for consideration as part of the bylaw rewrite project.

Rowland Davis
8 July 2023 at 11:35 am

My wife, grandkids and I have enjoyed strolling through the parade grounds, often while enjoying ice cream.  And we enjoy driving through town and observing the green space provided by the parade ground.  It is important for current and future residents and visitors to have this green space to enjoy.  This space needs to be designated as a separate zone with rules that prohibit any future structures or pavement to be placed there.

Roger Crouse
14 August 2023 at 6:56 pm
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Engaging the Community 0 0 / 4 10

Robust public engagement will be encouraged throughout the project. All meetings of the Shelburne Planning Commission and other town committees that may be involved in the project will be noticed and open to all with opportunity for public comment as required under Vermont law. Meeting agendas, packets, minutes and video (when available) for Planning Commission and other town committees are available from the Agenda Center on Town of Shelburne website.

Project-specific materials and information will be posted on this website as well. Periodic updates on the project will be sent to everyone who signs up for the mailing list (see form at top of page). At particular points during the project, there will be more structured meetings for the purpose of inviting public feedback on the proposed regulations.

Informal Meetings 30 September 2023
Meet with Shelburne Housing Committee 5 June 2023
Meet with Shelburne Development Review Board 7 June 2023
Meet with Shelburne Equity & Diversity Committee 26 June 2023
Meet with the Shelburne Natural Resources and Conservation Commission 12 July 2023
Meet with the Shelburne Historic Preservation and Design Review Commission 13 July 2023
Attend the Shelburne Farmers' Market 15 July 2023
Meet with Shelburne Bike & Pedestrian Committee 17 July 2023
Meet with Shelburne Alliance for the Environment 18 July 2023
Meet with the Shelburne Climate and Energy Committee 31 July 2023
Meet with the Shelburne Finance Committee 7 September 2023
Neighborhood Meetings 11 January 2024
Topic Meetings 9 May 2024
No documents attached to this phase.

I appreciated you attending the DRB meeting and introducing some of your findings.     I’ve been ruminating on one of your observations – specifically that we have not achieved the “connectivity” desired as outlined in the Town Plan.    My impression upon re-reading the Town Plan is that the town residents desire pedestrian and bicycle connectivity NOT more automotive connectivity.   I suspect most residents are happy that neighborhoods do not have connecting streets that become shortcuts and bypasses for Route 7.  Caution should be used as we consider revisions to the zoning when it comes to the word “connectivity” and be sure it is very clearly defined.
I’d also point out that the Town Plan indicates the rate of new construction for housing should be 25-50 dwelling units per year.   In the last 2 1/2 years (January 2021 thru June 7 2023), the DRB has approved projects that potentially result in 287 new housing units.  That works out to an average of 114 per year, nearly 4x the rate desired in the Town Plan.     

17 June 2023 at 7:53 pm

I appreciate the attention that Allyson brings to the very rapid growth of approved dwelling units over the last 2-3 years — far higher than past growth rates and well above the rates mentioned in the Town Plan: “… can and should sustain a growth
rate that continues its historic growth trend—a growth rate that anticipates the addition of 25-50 new dwelling units per year, on average.” (p.48)

There are three “scarce resources” that need to be factored into future growth: (1) available land (obviously); (2) available infrastructure, particularly the WWTF capacity which is fixed by the law when a facility is constructed; and, (3) the capacity of town staff to manage the needs created by the growth.

Rowland Davis
8 July 2023 at 11:27 am

The Parade Ground is an important historical and cultural space, connecting Shelburne residents with our ancestors and with current residents who value the peace and quiet of open space.  The Parade Ground should be designated as  separate zone, with zoning rules preventing any further structures or pavement to be place upon it.

Robert Birkett
12 August 2023 at 9:13 pm

 Not only is the Parade Ground ian important historical and cultural space, connecting Shelburne residents with our ancestors and with current residents who value the peace and quiet of open space, but is a gathering space for resident to come together in a peaceful enviroment  The Parade Ground should be designated as a separate zone, with zoning rules preventing any further structures or pavement to be placed upon it. 

T. Karl Hubbard
13 August 2023 at 8:55 am

Thank you for your work on this. I have 2 suggestions. 1.  All new residential development,regardless of the site, should be required to have a specified percentage of units built for moderate income families. So, for example: less that 5 dwellings must have one built for moderate income families (eg income between say 80 and 200 k). 5 to 10 should have 2 units etc. this would provide some additional moderate income homes without creating “ghettos”. 2.  All new buildings should be limited to 25% of non built property with a grass lawn. The remaining should be native and pollinating plants to help provide food and habitat for threatened pollinator species. 

Susan Stock
13 August 2023 at 9:26 am

Over the years, Shelburne residents have enjoyed the Parade Ground since it was gifted to the town. It is an important historical and cultural space that should be designated as a separate zone with zoning rules preventing further structures or pavement put on it.

Lee Hollister
14 August 2023 at 11:30 am

My wife, grandkids and I have enjoyed strolling through the parade grounds, often while enjoying ic  cream.  And we enjoy driving through town and observing the green space provided by the parade ground.  It is important for current and future residents and visitors to have this green space to enjoy.  This space needs to be designated as a separate zone with rules that prohibit any future structures or pavement to be placed there.

Roger Crouse
15 August 2023 at 5:39 pm

This is my third attempt at posting my comments.  I’m finding using this site confusing and a bit daunting and would imagine others will too.
I’m concerned that the process of rewriting the town’s zoning bylaws in it’s enormity is already seeming to be a bit rushed.  While this is understandable, the result will be to diminish public input, a factor I know PlaceSense values in this process.  Is the Draft of Administrative Procedures chapter finished?  If so, do Shelburne citizens feel that they had ample time to understand the information and comment?

Donna Fialkoff
16 August 2023 at 7:53 am

Adding to my comment about the Parade Ground,  I suggest that due to the deeply historic nature of the Parade Ground, the ruling of the Historic Preservation & Design Review Commission with regard to any proposed changes to the Parade Ground be made binding, rather than advisory.

Robert Birkett
21 August 2023 at 3:06 pm

I am very interested in what type of town our zoning laws will ultimately allow.  What would Shelburne look like if it were completely developed according to our bylaws?  How many buildings, what type, how many people, grand list total?  And what would Shelburne look like as we drive around it?  The regional planning commission has the capability to perform a “build out analysis” to answer questions like this.  Could such an analysis be performed and used to evaluate our proposed zoning laws?  Thanks.

Robert Birkett
5 September 2023 at 11:44 am
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Drafting the Regulations 4 1 / 5 11

The proposed regulations will be written, discussed and revised chapter-by-chapter. Some elements of the proposed regulations will be set by state statute and other elements may be retained from the adopted regulations. The Planning Commission will be focusing primarily on those elements identified in the regulatory audit where changes are needed to effectively implement the policies of the town plan.

Draft Article 2 (v.01) This is the first draft of Article 2. Administrative Procedures. It will be reviewed and discussed at the August Planning Commission meeting.
Article 2 Memo This is the memo provided to the Planning Commission to guide review of Article 2. Administrative Procedures.

Hi Brandy and Rod,

After meeting tomorrow night with SNRCC, how will I upload the meeting minutes into the public record here on the Shelburne page? And, I am not seeing any other meeting minutes from your other outreach meetings. I was hoping to get at the DRB notes for instance. Could they be displayed in the Task list of the informal meetings?

Thank you, Don Rendall, chair SNRCC

Don Rendall
11 July 2023 at 12:52 pm

Thank you for the 7/18 meeting with representatives from the Shelburne Alliance For the Environment, where we focused on the details surrounding bylaw provisions that will help to protect Shelburne’s natural spaces and resources, including open spaces.  In discussions to date, these protections have often been linked to our rural districts, but there are also very important natural spaces within the town’s growth zones (i.e. within the area served by wastewater infrastructure).  These also need the same kind of protective measures, and this is a specific goal within the Town Plan (Chapter One: Future Land Use):
3. Within the Growth Areas, foster compact, walkable, and connected development patterns established with due regard having been given to conservation of exceptional natural resources.

Rowland Davis
26 July 2023 at 1:25 pm

Hi Brandy and Rod, I think I caught an error in the admin procedures draft. on page 2.24 section 2305.E describing the involvement of SNRCC figure 2-07 is referred to as what we will review. Should this actually be figure 2-08? Thanks for checking and I’ll keep reading! Don Rendall

Don Rendall
31 July 2023 at 6:21 pm

Here are a couple of other catches in the draft chapter 2 language:
2201.D What is the basis for an application being judged complete? Does ZA use Fig. 2-04? 2-05?
I believe Figure 2-03 would be better placed with 2202.A and 2202.C where ZA is making these decisions. It would greatly help clarity.
pg 2.10 paragraph 2203.F there is a phrase immediately repeated
pg 2.24 Paragraph 2305.D change the word “commission” to “committee” members of SNRCC.

Don Rendall
6 August 2023 at 5:31 pm

Re: Administrative Procedures. My comment pertains to major and minor a) site plan and b) subdivision application requirements. These two categories treat differences between major and minor somewhat similarly.
For site plan applications, minor plans don’t require Resources and Hazards, Access and Infrastructure, Structures and Impervious Surfaces or Greenspace assessments. Major plans require all of those.
For subdivision applications, minor applications don’t require Access, Infrastructure, Streets and Greenspace. Major applications do require those.
It seems to me that the difference between major and minor site plans could be pretty small. For example, new construction requires less than 3,000 sq. ft. of floor space for minor, 3,000 or more for major. The difference between a plan for 2,900 sf (minor) and 3,100 sf (major) in terms of impact on the land wouldn’t be immediately obvious.
So too, the difference between a 3 lot minor subdivision and a 4 or 5 lot subdivision would not be immediately obvious.
Further, for minor site plan approval, no public hearing is required for the Environmental Review or for site plan approval. For minor subdivision plan approvals, no public hearing is required.
The gap between major and minor could be large, but it could be small. I raise this point because it seems relevant to protecting wildlife habitat and corridors across all zones. In high density zones, even the nuances of how a property is developed could have a significant impact on how much it undermines or enables embedded or adjacent habitat and corridors. Inevitably, habitats and corridors will overlap properties that are being developed. Careful development could preserve the integrity of the habitat or corridor; less careful development could easily undercut it.
From this point of view, including Resources and Hazards and other pertinent assessments for both major AND minor plan applications, and Environmental Reviews for major AND minor subdivision approvals makes sense. So does the requirement of pubic hearings for both categories.
I realize that for areas covered by the Environmental Review Overlay, there may be some duplication of assessment. A couple of points:
a.       The Environmental Review Overlay does not exist yet, so we don’t know what will, and will not, be included.
b.       The Administrative Procedures document does include some environmental assessment (Resources and Hazards, Greenspace, for examples) for major applications and subdivisions so PlaceSense is actively making allowance for both with regard to majors. Why not minors also?
c.       The Environmental Review Overlay is not likely to include all areas of Shelburne and that warrants additional environmentally oriented assessment opportunities as referenced above. 

Jim White
9 August 2023 at 4:30 pm

Re: Administrative Procedures. The section on Notice of Hearing says the public must be notified at least 15 days before a hearing. I realize that corresponds to state law which I believe makes 15 days the minimum requirement. However, if the notice is put into the Shelburne News, it would amount to only 13-14 actual days for most Shelburners because the paper is delivered by mail one or two days after publication date. One or two days could make a difference for those processing a complicated application. The PC might consider allow 18 days.
This does not seem like a trivial point to me, if we are to take seriously the right of at least 10 Shelburne voters to appeal. That would not be a quick and easy task for working parents who need to educate themselves and put a petition together. 15 days is only two weeks. Even one day could make a difference.  
Since the notice must go on the Shelburne town website, a suggestion is to allow interested people to sign up for automatic delivery by email of such zoning notices, along the lines of the current practice of sending interested residents notice of town committee meeting agendas. Maybe this is already the case?

Jim White
9 August 2023 at 4:31 pm

In the August 10 meeting, I was glad to see some planning commission members begin to ask the PlaceSense consultants if what they were recommending is industry standard practice or their personal opinion. Differentiating between the two seems important in terms of helping Shelburne set it’s own course with zoning regs. At a time when many changes/pressures are coming to bear on zoning (we have at least two major crises before us – housing and environment), it’s good to keep in mind that even standard practice doesn’t necessarily represent the answer for Shelburne. We may want to be more conservative or more progressive with respect to specific zoning practices, depending on the specific circumstances. Generally speaking, I would like to see Shelburne be thoughtful and innovative in their approach, and not just conform to status quo thinking.
I wanted to add that despite how much has been said about encouraging public input in the regs. revision, there seems to be very little opportunity during the planning commission meetings for the public to participate. There’s always a few minutes for comments on items not on the agenda, but the agenda is usually the big, live topic at hand and that’s off the table. The public does tend to be invited to comment at the end of the meeting, but by then everyone present is clearly worn out and wants to go home. The message is – make it quick because we are almost out of time here. So when can the public engage with this? I realize PlaceSense is going to conduct public meetings in 2024, but those I’ve attended so far have mostly consisted of PlaceSense delivering their packaged presentation. Dialogue was at a minimum. And it’s hard to imagine how the general public who have not been following this complicated process will be able to suddenly generate coherent responses to it all in one to two hour sessions in the winter-spring. I think a lot more work needs to go into giving the public access to this project. Just my two cents.

Jim White
15 August 2023 at 1:27 pm

Re: Climate issues
Thanks to Brandy & Rod for meeting with representatives of the Climate & Energy Committee on July 31st.  You can find a summary of our discussion here
At the last PC meeting on 8/10 there was some discussion of climate issues — including even a suggestion by one member that climate issues may not be so important, in general, and that they may not belong in the bylaws.  While it is true that most energy and efficiency issues are usually addressed through ordinances other than the zoning bylaws (e.g. building codes and energy standards), that does not mean that they have no place in the zoning bylaws.
In the current PlaceSense draft, there are two mentions of climate issues being part of any development that is within the Environmental Review Overlay District (currently undefined) and includes those with several other environmental issues that would be subject to advice and review by the Shelburne Natural Resources & Conservation Committee.  Unfortunately, climate issues for zoning bylaws cannot really be restricted to such an overlay district.  The proper trigger for inclusion of climate considerations should instead be based on the type of development under consideration.  Examples would be any PUD and any large commercial development.
The issues that should properly be in the zoning bylaws here would include:

Rowland Davis
15 August 2023 at 2:55 pm

…to continue my previous comment (somehow the website “grabbed” it before I was done)
Climate-specific issues that can and should be properly included in the zoning bylaws, at least for PUDs and larger commercial projects, would include:
1.  Site review for solar efficiency.  The alignment of both buildings and streets can be importnat factors for efficient utilization of solar energy, and should be a factor for DRB consideration.  South Burlington has some requirements that could be used as a starting point.  Also, see this resource with other examples
2.   Possible requirments for solar energy on suitable, large commercial structures.  Again, South Burlington has some language that can can be considered.
3.   Possible increase in riparian setback requirments to recognize increasing flooding risk due to climate change.
These are specific ideas to be considered, but the biggest climate-driven impact will be on the preservation of open space and especially forested areas as a way to mitigate CO2 emissions.

Rowland Davis
15 August 2023 at 3:16 pm

It looks like there are now drafts for Articles 3-5, but I do not find them on the website.  When can they be available?

Rowland Davis
17 August 2023 at 8:33 am

Work is underway on Articles 3-5. They will be posted as they are distributed to the Planning Commission. As of now (Aug 21), only Article 2 has been distributed.

Brandy Saxton
21 August 2023 at 5:04 pm
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Adopting the Regulations 0 0 / 2 0

The process for adopting land use regulations involves public hearings by both the Planning Commission and Selectboard. The Planning Commission is responsible for developing proposed regulations. However, it is the Selectboard that has the authority to adopt those regulations. The adoption process municipalities must follow is laid out in 24 V.S.A. § 4441, 24 V.S.A. § 4442 and 24 V.S.A. § 4444.

No documents attached to this phase.
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Project Funding

This project is funded in part through a Bylaw Modernization Grant awarded to the Town of Shelburne from the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development.