The Planning Framework

In Vermont, the responsibility for local planning rests with municipalities. Those responsibilities are shared by elected officials, such as Selectboards and City Councils, and appointed boards including the Planning Commission. Elected boards, which serve as the legislative body for the community, have the authority to adopt plans, land use regulations, capital improvement programs and other planning tools. In some instances, the authority to enact planning tools, or to overturn decisions of the elected officials, is in the hands of local voters.

Planning Commissions are appointed by the Selectboard or City Council and are responsible for preparing draft plans and regulations. Planning Commissions are required to seek input from citizens and landowners before recommending plans and regulations to the elected board. In communities with successful planning programs, the Commission will go well beyond the minimal amount of public outreach required by law to involve the community in planning for its future.

Planning Commissions also share responsibility for the administration of land use regulations with the Zoning Board of Adjustment, unless a municipality has chosen to appoint a Development Review Board. In that case, the Development Review Board is responsible for all aspects of administering regulations, while the Planning Commission focuses exclusively on planning for the community’s future.

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State Enabling Legislation

For additional information concerning the legal framework for planning in Vermont, see the section, Land Use Law. And, available soon, an interactive guide for citizen planners to learn how to be involved in their planning and regulatory process.


Vermont State Planning Goals 
Vermont Municipal Plan Requirements
Smart Growth Vermont’s State Policy page