Department of Planning & Zoning

Appeal Rights

As discussed in Appealling a Zoning Decision, State law enables appeals of zoning decisions within Appeal Periods. Appeal Periods are of two lengths:

  • Administrative (staff) decisions - fifteen (15) days, and
  • DRB and Court decisions - thirty (30) days.

The order of who hears appeals is:

  1. Administrative decisions are appealed to the Development Review Board (DRB). The DRB either upholds or overturns the administrative decision.
     
  2. DRB decisions are appealed to the Vermont Superior Court Environmental Division (VSCED). The VSCED makes a decision on the permit application.
     
  3. VSCED decisions are appealed to the Vermont Supreme Court. The Vermont Supreme Court either upholds or overturns the VSCED decision.
     
  4. Vermont Supreme Court decisions are appealed to the United States Supreme Court. The US Supreme Court either upholds or overturns the Vermont Supreme Court decision.

An appeal MUST be submitted during the decision's appeal period to be valid. The 15 or 30-day appeal period is the only window in which an appeal may be made. So don't be late! See Appealling a Zoning Decision for directions on how to file an appeal.

To appeal a zoning decision, you must qualify as an "Interested Person". Article 13 of the Comprehensive Development Ordinance defines an Interested Person as:

Interested Person: A person who has participated in a municipal regulatory proceeding authorized under 24 VSA Ch. 117 who may appeal a decision rendered in that proceeding by an appropriate municipal panel to the environmental court. Participation in a local regulatory proceeding shall consist of offering, through oral or written testimony, evidence or a statement of concern related to the subject of the proceeding.

The Department documents who has participated using an "Interested Person List". Submitting written comment or speaking at a DRB meeting qualifies one as an Interested Person. But if you speak at a meeting only (no written comment), you MUST place your name and address on the Interested Person List circulated at the meeting. Please write your name and address clearly. Note: Permit applicants have automatic appeal rights.

To appeal an administrative decision to the DRB, the specific eligibility requirements for Interested Persons are listed in Article 12 Section 2.1 of the Comprehensive Development Ordinance:

For the purposes of this ordinance, an interested person means any one of the following:

  1. A person owning title to property affected by a bylaw who alleges that such regulation imposes on such property unreasonable or inappropriate restrictions of present or potential use under the particular circumstances of the case;
     
  2. The City of Burlington or any municipality which adjoins the city;
     
  3. A person owning or occupying property in the immediate neighborhood of a property which is the subject of any decision or act taken under the ordinance, who can demonstrate a physical or environmental impact on the person's interest under the criteria reviewed, and who alleges that the decision or act, if confirmed, will not be in accord with the policies, purposes or terms of the plan or bylaw of that municipality;
     
  4. Any ten (10) persons owning real property within the city or an adjoining municipality who, by signed petition to the DRB, the plan or bylaw of which is at issue in any appeal brought under this article, allege that any relief requested by a person under this article, if granted, will not be in accord with the policies, purposes or terms of the plan or bylaw of the city. Such petition must designate one person so serve as representative of the petitioners regarding all matters related to the appeal;
     
  5. Any department and administrative subdivision of the State of Vermont owning property or any interested therein, the city or an adjoining municipality, and the Vermont Agency of Development and Community Affairs; and,
     
  6. the Burlington Conservation Board.

If challenged, the DRB determines whether an appellant qualifies as an Interested Person. Applicants have automatic appeal rights.

To appeal a DRB decision to the VSCED, you must qualify as an Interested Person (above), and you must have participated in the DRB hearing. If Interested Person status is challenged, the VSCED determines whether the appellant qualifies.