Posted by: Patricia Salkin | July 30, 2014

VT Supreme Court Upholds Denial of Permit Based on Failure to comply with Historic Preservation Regulation

The Applicant applied for a zoning permit to alter the exterior of his house by raising the roofline to match a previously installed roofline, changing the roof and replacing the windows, but the City’s Department of Planning and Zoning denied his application because the building was listed on the Vermont State Register of Historic Places. The City planner however directed the applicant to the Design Advisory Board (DAB) where it was suggested that he redesigned the roofline, but the revised drawings remained unsatisfactory to the DAB. Applicant then appealed to the Development Review Board where the Board upheld the DAB’s decision. The Applicant then met the City twice to attempt to resolve the design issue, but eventually appealed to the environmental division after appealing the City’s denial to the development Review Board. The Environmental division in return denied the applicant’s motion for summary judgment, finding that the application failed to comply with historic preservation standards of the City’s zoning ordinance.

In reply to the City’s summary judgment motion for timely notice, the supreme court of Vermont found that the Environmental Division properly awarded summary judgment to the City because the City planner notified the applicant within five days of receiving his application that the permit could not be issued. Applicant’s claim that the City’s zoning ordinance should not have been admitted to the Environmental Division due to missing documents was also denied by the Court as it found that the Environmental Division did not err by reopening the evidence for a limited purpose of introducing a complete copy of the zoning ordinance. The Court concluded by finding that the Environmental Division’s decision to prevent the changes to the historic building was reasonable, as the focus on the exterior alterations outweighed the concerns of the interior use unless the change in structure changes the intensity of the interior, and the applicant’s concerns for the height issues within the bathroom did not meet this burden.

In re Bjerke Zoning Permit Denial, 93 A. 3d 82 (VT 1/24/2014)

The opinion can be accessed at: http://info.libraries.vermont.gov/supct/current/op2013-108.html


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