Burlington Council Passes Zoning to Encourage Accessory Dwellings | Off Message

Burlington Council Passes Zoning to Encourage Accessory Dwellings


An accessory dwelling unit in Burlington's South End in 2015 - FILE: JAMES BUCK
  • File: James Buck
  • An accessory dwelling unit in Burlington's South End in 2015
The Burlington City Council unanimously approved zoning changes Tuesday designed to encourage construction of backyard cottages and mother-in-law apartments at single family homes.

Supporters including Mayor Miro Weinberger have touted the potential for so-called accessory dwelling units to boost the city's housing stock and benefit both homeowners and renters.

The changes were among several housing initiatives proposed in the wake of the mayor's 2019 Housing Summit.
Under the new rules, additional off-street parking will no longer be required for accessory dwelling units. They will also be allowed on some lots previously deemed too small, so long as stormwater treatment requirements are met.

Meanwhile, the units can be larger than allowed under previous zoning: up to 800 square feet, or 30 percent of the square footage of the principal dwelling, whichever is greater.

One thing that won't change: City permits for the unit will only be issued if the owner of the primary home resides at the property. Once the unit is built, the owner can live in that unit as opposed to the primary home.

In a separate effort, the city's Community Economic Development Office and nonprofit HomeShare Vermont are working on a pilot program to encourage construction of accessory apartments for seniors and low-income residents.

It will include technical assistance to homeowners, standard designs for accessory dwelling units, and matching services for prospective tenants and homeowners.  

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