New Zoning Explained

by Barbara Conrey

After three years of work, multiple public meetings and hundreds of comments from residents, the Montpelier Planning Commission has passed the proposed zoning ordinance to City Council for approval. City Council will be reviewing sections of the draft document during the next four Council meetings: April 12 and 26, and May 10 and 24.

Goals of the Proposed Zoning:

Allow us to welcome new residents and businesses to Montpelier while carefully preserving the character of our neighborhoods

Follow the goals of the city Master Plan, adopted in 2010 and extended to 2017

Incorporate new planning principles, such as Traditional Neighborhood design, to insure that the zoning reinforces the elements that make Montpelier an appealing place to live and work

What’s New in the Proposed Zoning:

Actual Lot Densities were used, adjusted to match what exists now in 90% of the lots in each neighborhood.

Neighborhood Protection to maintain neighborhood character with any new construction:

– Existing neighborhoods are described, and new development must “…preserve each neighborhood’s distinct character and quality.”

– Buildable ‘footprint’ is restricted for new construction.

– Steep slopes cannot be developed, and reduce a lot’s buildable area.

– Architectural Standards define building elements that must be included, consistent with the neighborhood.

– New buildings must ‘meet the street,’ matching the existing building fronts. 

“Invisible Infill” by making 90% of our homes comply with their existing zone, homeowners could create a duplex apartment or condominium, without changing the exterior of their building, and thus keeping their neighborhood character intact. 

Limiting Development Montpelier is a city with many narrow lots. To add infill buildings or subdivide, lot frontage must be twice the required width for the district; very few of our city lots meet this requirement. The greatest limit on development in Montpelier is not density, it’s the overall layout of our city.

Understanding the Proposed Zoning:  What does it mean for your home?

Zoning Ordinances are complex documents, with many interdependent sections. For people who are currently in a residential district (low, medium, or high), below is a comparison chart of pertinent requirements:

Step 1: Find your property on the new Zoning District Map. Go to the city’s website: to find the proposed district map. Viewing it online will allow you to zoom in and identify your individual property.

Step 2: You will see that your neighborhood has a name and a number attached to it. The first two digits of the number define your proposed district (i.e. 12–). Each new residential district is listed next to the corresponding existing district:

Barbara Conrey, a Montpelier resident, is a member of the planning commission

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