Addressing COVID-19 Restrictions with Interim Bylaws: WRC Can Help

The WRC is available to assist towns interested in addressing issues in their zoning that may hinder re-opening of businesses under COVID-10 restrictions. If there are solutions not currently permissible, such as facilitating outdoor dining areas, you may be able to address them through short-term or temporary amendments to the zoning bylaws.

Collaborating with numerous partners, the WRC helped to develop a brief guidance document on how towns may address COVID-19 pandemic restrictions through the use of Interim Bylaws. You can access that guidance document here.

While the standard zoning amendment process can take quite a while, requiring both Planning Commission and Selectboard public hearings and then an adoption vote, it may be possible to adopt an Interim Bylaw in a shorter time frame. There are, however, prerequisite conditions.

24 V.S.A. § 4415. Interim Bylaws (https://legislature.vermont.gov/statutes/section/24/117/04415) states in part: “If a municipality is conducting or has taken action to conduct studies, or has held or is holding a hearing for the purpose of considering a bylaw, a comprehensive plan, or an amendment, extension, or addition to a bylaw or plan, the legislative body may adopt interim bylaws regulating land development in all or a part of the municipality in order to protect the public health, safety, and general welfare and provide for orderly physical and economic growth. . . .” If neither the conducting studies nor the holding a hearing condition is true, then the Interim Bylaw prerequisite is likely not satisfied and standard process would be necessary.

Towns interested in facilitating business re-opening through either standard zoning amendments or Interim Bylaws are encouraged to contact the WRC with questions. For further information, contact John Bennett at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 257-4547 ext. 110.

Last Updated: 10 June 2020
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