Home News and Features City News Montpelier Planning Commission Invites You to Review Proposed Zoning Changes

Montpelier Planning Commission Invites You to Review Proposed Zoning Changes

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Happy summer from your Montpelier Planning Commission. We would like to invite you to a listening session regarding some zoning changes we have been considering. These changes are in response to citizen requests. The listening session will take place on July 24 from 5:30pm-7:30pm during our regularly scheduled Planning Commission meeting on July 24, 2023.

We are bringing forward proposed zoning amendments based on a recent report on Montpelier’s zoning code by the Congress for New Urbanism (CNU) and AARP Vermont. The two groups partnered to examine zoning regulations in both Montpelier and Burlington to identify barriers to housing choice and walkability. AARP Vermont promotes policies that create more livable and walkable neighbors as well as increase housing choices. CNU provides technical assistance to communities that want to improve their zoning codes.   

The report recommended removing zoning regulations that limit the number of housing units based on lot size, also known as “density caps,” for all zoning districts in the City. Currently, a certain number of units are allowed per square foot, and the numbers vary based on the associated zoning district. We are not currently recommending eliminating density caps for all zoning neighborhoods, but have other incremental changes we are suggesting at this time.  

The Planning Commission has developed the following menu of ideas for consideration:

Eliminating density caps in areas currently in the Design Review District. The Design Review District in Montpelier is a district that the City has recognized has special characteristics and therefore has specific design regulations. A map of this district is included as an additional graphic. This district already has strong design controls, so we feel confident that eliminating density caps will result in development that aligns with the City’s design goals and criteria. This change offers the opportunity for more development in this district and increases the housing supply in the City.

Expanding the density exemption by allowing a four-unit building to be placed anywhere a single-family dwelling is allowed. Again, given that the housing supply in Montpelier has not kept pace with demand and has resulted in a critical lack of supply, this change allows more units to be developed while maintaining the zoning standards for individual lots. 

Doubling the density in all districts, which would retain density regulation but allow for more housing development. 

Eliminating density caps in some zoning districts outside of the Design Review District but near the center of town. Currently, the downtown neighborhoods do not have density requirements. We could extend this to other high-density districts that are adjacent to or near the downtown. 

We look forward to hearing from the community. We will be hosting a listening session to discuss these proposals, as well as collect additional ideas from the public before any changes move forward to the official public hearings. The session will take place during our regularly scheduled Planning Commission meeting from 5:30-7:30 on July 24, 2023. The agenda and instructions for attending the meeting can be found at https://www.montpelier-vt.org/129/Agendas-Minutes

Later in the fall, we will schedule formal public hearings.   

We have also been busy working on a final draft of the City Plan which outlines the City’s planning goals and priorities over the next eight years. We anticipate it will be ready for public comment by late summer or early fall. The City Plan was drafted with input from local committees that have engaged deeply with such issues as transportation, housing, and economic development. We are excited to share the draft with the community and look forward to feedback and questions.

The Planning Commission meets on the second and fourth Mondays of each month.