What should be my first step in the application process?

We encourage applicants to come in during the planning stage of your project so we can discuss your needs and assist you through the permit process.  Only completed application will be considered for consideration. Effective July 1, 2007, permits for all septic systems, new and replacement, are issued by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation,Wastewater Management District.  Applications requiring state septic permits will not hold up the zoning permit, but one cannot commence construction until the Planning & Zoning Office has received the state septic permit.

 

What is a Site Plan?

A site plan is a bird’s eye view of your property as if you were looking down at it from above.  A site plan shows everything that is on your property now.  This includes the footprint of any buildings (home, deck, garage, barns, fences, pool, pond, etc.).  A site plan should also show any proposed buildings or improvements. Dimensions should be included for each item and the drawing should be done to scale, as best as possible by the applicant.  It would be helpful for the proposed construction to be shown with a dotted line to differentiate it from the current structure.

 

Why do I need a Site Plan? 

Generally speaking, a site plan is necessary whenever an applicant is applying for a zoning permit for new construction.  This may include a fence, addition to your home, new deck, storage shed, even a freestanding sign.  A site plan is used to understand exactly what the applicant wants to do and to determine if the plan meets setback.  If you know what zone your property is in, see pages 8-16 of the Village Zoning Regulations to determine what the front/rear/side setbacks are for your lot or pages 10-21 of the Town Zoning Regulations.

 

Corner Lot:

If your lot is on the corner and has frontage on two streets, you have a “corner lot.” This means that you have two “front yards” for the purpose of calculating your setbacks.

 

Setbacks:

A “setback” (front, rear,side) is the distance from the property line to any structure or site improvement.  The front yard setback is typically measured from the center of the road.

 

What is a “Building Elevation”?
How to Draw Building Elevations

A building elevation is a drawing of each side of a building – the front, the rear and both sides.  When you apply for a zoning permit that includes a physical change to the outside of your building, (or the creation of a new building) you must include a drawing of each side of the building showing what it will look like when you are done with your project.  Please mark your elevations with the appropriate orientation to the road on which you live and clearly mark what portion of your building is new and what portion is existing.  Photographs are often used to show how the building currently appears as we need a “before” (current) and “after” (proposed) rendering of your project.

For the Design Review District, each elevation should show the location of all the elements of the building – rooflines, windows, door, bulkhead, entryway overhang, decks, porches and indicate the siding and roof materials, dimensions of windows and doors, the roof pitch, details of the trim, etc.  Be sure to also include any gable and roof vents, exterior meters, utility boxes, lights or signs that may be planned for the structure.

For applications outside the Design Review District, elevations should show each side of the building with doors, windows, decks, porches and bulkheads.

Elevation drawings do not need to be prepared by an architect, but must be drawn to scale (i.e., 1/4″ equals one foot), and be easy to read and photocopy.  Hiring an architect is always a good idea, if your project is large or complex.  All plans must be submitted with one set of plans no larger than 11″ x 17″.

 

Why do I need to include building elevations?

Remember the old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words?” Well, this is a perfect example.

Under Woodstock Zoning Regulations, whenever an exterior change is proposed for a building, or a new building is planned, a permit must be issued. In some cases a permit may be approved administratively (by the Administrative Officer), while others may require one or more public meetings.  All of the materials submitted as a part of the application process become part of the public record and history of your property.  This information is available for public review should neighbors or other public officials have any questions.

The Design Review Board and Development Review Board(s) and staff use this information to understand exactly what you are proposing to do. When a permit is issued, the Village/Town must ensure that what you are proposing meets the Village/Town regulations, and that the permit conditions and approval reflect what you really intend to do.

Copies of zoning permits which have been issued are filed in the Town Clerk’s office and they are posted on the bulletin board at the entrance of Town Hall.  Hearing notices for applications pending before the Development Review Board are posted on the bulletin board as well.

 

What is a Certificate of Occupancy?

A Certificate of Occupancy, or “CO”, is issued by the Planning & Zoning office once a development project has been completed.  It is the final step in the Village/Town’s permitting process and officially closes the file on the permit application. CO’s are not issued with all building permits.  All change of use, new construction, substantial improvements or permits upon determination by the Development Review Board shall require a Certificate of Occupancy before such use is authorized. The Certificate of Occupancy shall show that the premises comply with all applicable provisions of the Regulations and the permit as granted.

 

Why is a “CO” important?

Obtaining a CO is the final requirement of the Village/Town’s permitting process and ensures compliance with all local and state ordinances.  A building cannot legally be occupied, or a property used, until a Certificate of Occupancy has been issued by the Zoning office and recorded with the Town Clerk.

Additionally, in order to buy, sell or refinance a property, a legal investigation, or “Title Search,” is completed to determine “clear title” for the property. If a Certificate of Occupancy is a condition of the permit, then a recorded CO must be on file as evidence of clear title based on a Vermont Supreme Court decision known as the “Bianchi Decision.” The effect of this case has been that the lack of necessary local permits, or the existence of a permit violation, is considered a “cloud” on the title of a property.

This ruling provides an important protection for prospective purchasers ensuring they aren’t held responsible for permit violations, and the associated penalties, from a previous owner.  As the official notice that the development was completed in accordance with all applicable state and local permits, the existence of a CO offers an assurance to the buyer (and the seller) that local regulations have been followed in each case.

 

How do I get a “CO?”

Upon completion of construction and before the permittee moves into the new structure, begins using the structure or is ready to open a new business establishment, the permittee needs to call the Administrative Officer and request an inspection.  The Administrative Officer will visit the site and upon determining that the conditions of the permit were met and that the construction was done according to the application, a permanent CO will be issued.  In some cases, a Conditional Certificate of Occupancy will be issued and a follow-up site visit will be required in order to obtain a Permanent Certificate of Occupancy. Once the CO has been issued, copies go to the property owner, zoning file and the Town Clerk’s records.

 

What happens if my project has changed?

If you need to make changes to your project, consult with the Planning & Zoning staff to determine if you need to amend your zoning permit.  It may be as simple as adding the new plans to your zoning file if the changes are minor. If the changes are major, a new permit will be required to bring your project up-to-date.  Additional fees will be required.

 

But it’s winter – how am I supposed to plant now?

In situations when the time of year prevents you from completing the required landscaping, a “Temporary CO” can be issued.  A follow-up inspection upon completion of the landscaping can be scheduled in the spring.