There are no county permits in Vermont.  There are a variety of state and local permits.  It is important to remember that with few exceptions, there is no required order in which one gets permits, and there is no requirement that the disparate permits be coordinated or have the same conditions; that is the applicant’s job.  For example, a town may issue a zoning permit that has different requirements than the Act 250 permit for a project.  Since one has to fully comply with all permits, the applicant will then need to work with the permitting agencies to amend these so that they permit the exact same thing.

Do I need a zoning permit?

You only need a zoning permit if the town has a zoning bylaw unless you live near a waterbody.  Flood hazard regulations are a form of zoning that applies to certain lands, and all TRORC towns have flood regulations.  You can find a copy of local bylaws under each town’s information on this site.

Does everything require a permit?

Perhaps, it is best to check. For what municipal permits are needed, applicants should ask the town’s Zoning Administrator/Administrative Officer.  For state permits the easiest thing to do is to check with the Permit Specialist , or one can also start with the ANR Permit Navigator website. Please note, that this does not cover all state permits, such as those issued by VTrans or that are for smaller energy projects .

TRORC does not issue any permits, but we can provide advice to towns and applicants.

What is exempt from zoning?

In Vermont, projects that go through a 248 proceeding to get a Certificate of Public Good (usually electrical generation or networked cellular towers) are exempt.  Agricultural and forestry (silvicultural) practices that follow state guidelines are exempt but will be reviewed by the state for their impacts on flooding and water bodies. In towns that have zoning, there is usually a list of additional exempt activities near the front of the bylaw for things like birdbaths, temporary structures, etc.

What is a flood permit?

This is really a local specialized zoning permit to develop in an area with flood risk.  Only towns issue these, but the state gets to comment on all flood permits.  A state permit steam alteration permit is also needed for any work “below top of bank”.  A state wetlands permit and a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers may also be needed.

Do I need a zoning permit if I have an Act 250 permit?

You need a zoning permit if there is local zoning and it requires a permit.  Act 250 and local permitting are separate.  They are not required to be issued in any order or to have the same conditions.

What is an access permit?

This is a permit to access a town or state road.  These are also called curb-cut permits.  The town or state issues these.  These are required both for new accesses or modifications to existing ones.  On the local level, these are not part of the zoning or subdivision permit, but they relate to these and it may be advisable to get the access permit first.  Check with your town or the Vtrans District.

Is there a permit for septic systems?

Yes, and these are issued by the state.  This permit is often referred to as a state subdivision permit, though it is really a state wastewater and potable water supply permit.

The state regulates all subdivisions in a certain way through the permitting of wastewater, requiring that each new lot created have either a designed means of treating wastewater or a deed notice that it may not be able to be developed. This permit is not Act 250, but is really the way the state ensures that groundwater quality is maintained through the proper design and spacing of wells and septic systems. The state does not care about lot size so long as the lot can contain a system and replacement area and its isolation distances are met.  For state purposes, town highways have already subdivided lots. Contact the regional office for more information about this kind of permitting here.

What is a subdivision permit?

A subdivision permit is permission to create a new lot of land. You may need one from the town and one from the state.

For towns that just have zoning, the creation of a new lot requires a zoning permit to ensure it meets lot size requirements, etc.  For towns with combined zoning and subdivision bylaws (commonly called a unified bylaw), they may require subdivision approval before the zoning permit is issued, so that only one permit is needed.  For towns that have stand-alone subdivision regulations, they may require a subdivision permit.  Towns can require that applicants have their state wastewater and potable water supply permit in hand prior to local subdivision application.  This will ensure that what the town is permitting will also pass muster with the state. The state potable water supply and wastewater permit is commonly called a state subdivision permit and is issued by the regional office. All new lots must have either a deed restriction or a designed septic system.

Do I need an Act 250 Permit?

Act 250 permits can be triggered by several thresholds, the most common being that the property is already subject to an Act 250 permit, you are making several new lots or housing units, or you are building a commercial project. This permit is issued by the District Environmental Commission, and most of TRORC Region is in District #3. Where town plans or the Regional Plan have mandatory language, compliance with that is required under Criterion 10 of Act 250, so developers should review this at the early conceptual stage of any project.

Do I need a permit for a solar installation?

Solar installations and other projects that generate electricity tied to the grid go through a 248 proceeding at the state level, not the local level.

Do I need a permit to work in a stream or on the bank?

Yes, this will require at least a Stream Alteration Permit.  You should talk to the regional River Engineer.

A local flood permit may also be required.