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Editor's note— An ordinance adopted May 14, 2013, amended ch. 7 in its entirety to read as herein set out. Former ch. 7 pertained to a similar matter, and derived from ordinances adopted Nov. 22, 2005; Oct. 28, 2008; and an amendment adopted Mar. 8, 2011. (Back)


Sec. 7-1. Purpose.

Sec. 7-2. Definitions.

Sec. 7-3. Adoption of Fire and Life Safety Codes.

Sec. 7-4. Building Inspector appointment.

Sec. 7-5. Building Inspector duties and powers.

Sec. 7-6. Appeals.

Sec. 7-7. Penalty for violations.

Sec. 7-1.   Purpose.

This Article is to promote the health, safety, and general welfare for all those who live, work, visit, or invest in our community for the protection of life, property and the environment. 

(Ord. of 5-14-13) 

Sec. 7-2.   Definitions.

For the purpose of this Ordinance, the following definitions shall apply: 

(a)  Building Inspector (BI) shall mean the person duly appointed under Colchester Code of Ordinances Sections 7-4 and 4-4 or the Assistant Building Inspector. 

(b)  Fire Chief (FC) shall mean the Chief Engineer of the Colchester Fire Department. 

(c)  Fire Warden shall mean the person duly appointed by the Selectboard. 

(d)  Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) shall be the BI and FC with final sign-off by the BI and further subject to provisions of subsection 7-5(d). 

(e)  ISO shall mean the Insurance Services Organization. 

(f)  NFPA shall mean the National Fire Protection Association. 

(g)  Private driveway, Type I shall bean driveways serving one (1) residential dwelling unit that are less than fifty (50) feet in length. 

(h)  Private driveway, Type II shall mean driveways, excluding Type I, service four (4) or less residential dwelling units. 

(i)  Private driveway, Type III shall mean driveways, excluding Type I and II, that are less than three hundred (300) feet long, are not public roads, and do not serve residential dwelling units. 

(j)  Private roads shall mean all driveways, excluding private driveways, Type I, II, and III that are not public roads. 

(Ord. of 5-14-13; Ord. of 4-14-20; Ord. of 5-25-21) 

Sec. 7-3.   Adoption of Fire and Life Safety Codes.

(a)  Pursuant to Section 103 of the Town of Colchester Municipal Charter, and pursuant to Title 24, Chapter 83, Sections 3101 and Title 24, Chapter 59, Section 1971 of the Vermont Statutes Annotated (V.S.A), the Town of Colchester, for the purpose of establishing rules and regulations for the prevention of fires, removal of fire hazards, prescribing standards necessary to protect the public, employees and property against harm arising out of or likely to arise out of fire, and to promote public safety hereby adopts the herein listed standards. 

(b)  The International Residential Code exempting Section P2904 as amended from time to time are herein adopted. Should any section, subsection, paragraph, sentence, clause, provision or phrase of the Code be declared by any court of competent jurisdiction to be unconstitutional or invalid, such decision shall not affect the validity of any other portion of these regulations, except those portions pertaining to the section in question. 

(c)  Conflict with other regulations or private restrictions. The provisions of these regulations shall not be construed to abrogate or annul the provisions of other ordinances or regulations or to impair private restrictions placed upon property. Where these regulations impose a greater restriction upon land, buildings, or structures than is imposed by any such provision, the restrictions of these regulations shall control. 

(Ord. of 5-14-13; Ord. of 5-25-21) 

Sec. 7-4.   Building Inspector appointment.

The Building Inspector (BI) and Assistant Building Inspector(s) (ABI) shall be appointed by the Town Manager. The Assistant Building Inspector's powers and duties equal those of the Building Inspector. Whenever the BI is designated in this Code, the ABI may fill the same description. 

(Ord. of 5-14-13) 

Sec. 7-5.   Building Inspector duties and powers.

The BI and the ABI are hereby authorized, empowered, and required to enforce all provisions of this Code. The BI shall administer the provisions of this Code relating to the issuance and enforcement of permits as herein—after provided and as provided in Title 24, Chapter 83 of the V.S.A. 

(a)  The BI shall review applications as required by Chapter 4 of the Colchester Code of Ordinances, Building Code and Building Construction Ordinance for compliance with this Code herein. 

(b)  The BI shall receive applications required by this Code, issue permits and furnish the prescribed certificates in accordance with this Code. The BI shall keep records of applications, permits issued, certificates issued, inspections made, reports rendered and notices or orders issued. All such records shall be open to public inspection. 

(c)  The BI shall perform investigations in the enforcement and administration of this Code. The BI shall conduct inspections of premises to ensure that the rules set forth herein and in 24 V.S.A. Chapter 83 are being observed. The BI shall issue such written reports or orders as may be necessary to enforce compliance with this Code. The BI may establish priorities for enforcing the rules based on the relative risks to persons and property from fire. The BI may accept reports of inspectors or recognized inspection services, after investigation of their qualifications and reliability. 

(d)  The Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) shall be the BI and FC or their designees. The BI shall have final sign off power. If there is a disagreement, it shall be decided by the Town Manager. 

(e)  Open burning shall be prohibited within Colchester except as permitted in subsection 7-13(e). 

(f)  In the course of enforcement of this Code, if the BI finds that a structure, building, facility, or construction does not meet the standards found in this Code or in 24 V.S.A. Chapter 83, the BI may issue an order to cease and vacate a structure, building, facility, or construction, or the BI may issue an order to repair or rehabilitate a structure, building, facility, or construction. With the exception of unsafe facilities discussed in subsection 7-5(g) below, such order shall not be issued by the BI until the party in violation of this Code has been provided notification of said violation and granted a period of not less than seven (7) days to correct said violation. 

Additionally, pursuant to Title 24, Chapter 59 of V.S.A., authority is granted to "Municipal Officials" for the Town of Colchester for the purpose of enforcing these Fire Prevention, Fire Protection, and Life Safety Regulations. Said Municipal Officials or Enforcement Officers shall possess all the authority granted such official in the enforcement of said regulations. 

Town officers, upon being designated as Deputy Municipal Officials by the Town Manager, and subject to the overall direction of the BI, shall serve as Municipal Officials and shall possess all the authority of a Municipal Official in the enforcement of said regulations. 

(g)  Vacating unsafe facilities. When a building, structure, or facility, or portion thereof, is determined by the BI to constitute an unsafe facility, building, or structure, the BI in consultation with the Police Department, Fire Department, and the Public Works Department may order the closure of such facility and order occupants to immediately vacate the premises, if by doing so the public safety will not be imperiled. If public safety would be imperiled, the BI shall order demolition and removal of the structure, or fencing of the premises. Facility closure shall prohibit or otherwise restrict access to or use of an unsafe facility. Facility closure may include, but shall not be limited to: closure of public rights-of-way; closure of private ways; closure of buildings, structures, and facilities; and closure of areas adjacent to unsafe facilities. Such facilities may be partially or completely opened again at such time as deemed safe by the BI. The BI shall use all available media and means of communication to inform occupant(s) and/or the public of facility closure in a timely manner. 

(h)  The BI shall adhere to all legal requirements and shall have benefit of all legal means of inspection now or hereafter required or available under law. 

(i)  The AHJ shall review requests for waivers of the requirements of this Ordinance. The AHJ shall grant such waivers if, in the opinion of the AHJ, strict compliance with the ordinance would entail practical difficulty, unnecessary hardship, or is otherwise found unwarranted, and granting the waiver would adequately secure the public safety and health. In granting such waivers, the AHJ shall have the authority to impose conditions requiring methods, means or practices to be taken in lieu of compliance with the waived provision(s) to provide protection of the public safety and health equal to that provided by the waived provision(s) of the ordinance. No waivers of this Ordinance shall net be granted if such waiver would have the effect of waiving any requirement of the Code. 

(Ord. of 5-14-13; Ord. of 4-14-20; Ord. of 5-25-21) 

Sec. 7-6.   Appeals.

Appeals in the case of the issuance of a ticket under Section 7-7 below shall be governed by the provisions of 4 V.S.A. Chapter 29 All other appeals shall be governed by 24 V.S.A. Chapter 83 and the following provisions: 

(a)  Any interested person aggrieved by an order of the BI as the AHJ or by the Town Manager made in accordance with the provisions of this Ordinance may appeal. Interested persons are persons aggrieved by the order on appeal and include, but are not limited to, the BI, the FC, the applicant, the person or entity owning title to property affected by the decision, and/or the aggrieved person's architect or builder. 

(b)  At the discretion of the appellant, an appeal pursuant to this Section 7-6 may be taken to the Board of Arbitrators discussed in subsection (c) below or to the Criminal Division of the Vermont Superior Court. Such appeal shall be filed within five (5) business days alter the receipt of the order being appealed. The taking of the appeal shall operate as a stay. The Board of Arbitrators or the Court shall have the power to annul, amend, modify, or affirm the order of the Building Inspector. 

(c)  Should the appellant choose to appeal to a Board of Arbitrators, the appellant shall file with the BI a notice of appeal setting forth the reasons for the appeal by personal delivery or by leaving said notice of appeal at the office of the BI. A copy of said notice of appeal shall also be provided to the Town Clerk. The Board of Arbitrators shall be assembled and composed as described in 24 V.S.A. Section 3110. A decision of a majority of the Board of Arbitrators thus composed, when reduced to writing, sworn to and filed in the BI's office, shall be final and conclusive upon the parties. Upon the filing of such decision, work may be immediately resumed in accordance therewith. The expense of such arbitration shall be paid by the appellant. 

(d)  Should the appellant choose to appeal to the Criminal Division of the Vermont Superior Court, the appellant shall file a complaint with the Court, and shall provide copies to the BI and the Town Clerk. Pursuant to 24 V.S.A. Section 3111, the Judge shall forthwith inquire into the facts or by a committee appointed by the Court, and make such order as it deems proper under the circumstances. In the Court's discretion, it may tax costs in favor of the prevailing party and issue execution therefore. Upon the entry of judgment, work may be immediately resumed in accordance therewith. 

(Ord. of 5-14-13) 

Sec. 7-7.   Penalty for violations.

A violation of these regulations shall constitute a civil ordinance violation. Each day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate offense. Offenses may be prosecuted through the issuance of a Municipal Civil Complaint Ticket or the commencement of an enforcement action as described below. 

(a)  Municipal Civil Complaint Ticket. Pursuant to 24 V.S.A. Chapter 59 and 4 V.S.A. Chapter 29, any designated Enforcement Officer, may commence prosecution for any violation of this Chapter 7 of the Code by serving two (2) copies of a Municipal Civil Complaint Ticket either in person or by first class mail on the alleged offender, and thereafter promptly filing the original with the Judicial Bureau. The issuing officer shall follow the procedure set forth by the Judicial Bureau for Municipal Complaint Tickets. The first offense ticketed for a violation shall be punishable by a fine of two hundred dollars ($200.00), the waiver fee shall be one hundred dollars ($100.00); a second offense ticketed for the same violation shall be punishable by a fine of four hundred dollars ($400.00), the waiver fee shall be two hundred dollars ($200.00); a third offense ticketed for the same violation shall be punishable by a fine of eight hundred dollars ($800.00), the waiver fee shall be four hundred dollars ($400.00). Upon the fourth offense, the town may request that the case be transferred from the Judicial Bureau to any court of competent jurisdiction. 

(b)  Violations by owners and others. The owner, or mortgagee, of a structure or premises which is in violation of this Ordinance, and/or any other person who has assisted in the commission of such violation, shall each be subject to fines as herein provided. 

(c)  Appropriate action. The imposition of the penalties herein prescribed shall not preclude the Town from instituting an appropriate action or proceeding to prevent an unlawful erection, construction, reconstruction, alteration, repair, conversion, maintenance or use, or to prevent the occupancy of a structure or premises, or to prevent an illegal act, conduct, business or use in or about any premises. 

(Ord. of 5-14-13) 


Sec. 7-8. Fire Department access.

Sec. 7-9. Fire hydrants.

Sec. 7-10. Private driveways and roads requirements.

Sec. 7-11. Areas not served by the public water main distribution systems.

Sec. 7-8.   Fire Department access.

Means of access for Fire Department apparatus shall be provided to all structures and kept passable year round. 

(a)  Fire access shall have minimum of twenty-four (24) feet of width for all structures requiring tower truck access. The lane shall be constructed so as to support a forty-thousand-pound vehicle however may be surfaced with pavement, gravel, paving blocks, and grass over a load bearing gravel layer. 

(b)  The fire access shall be no closer than twenty (20) feet from the subject structure and no further than one hundred fifty (150) feet from the structure. 

(c)  Turns in fire access shall be constructed with a minimum radius of twenty-five (25) feet at the inside curb/shoulder line and a minimum radius of fifty (50) feet at the outside curb/shoulder line. 

(d)  At least thirteen (13) feet six (6) inches in overhead clearance shall be provided and maintained over full width of the fire lane. 

 (Ord. of 5-14-13; Ord. of 5-25-21) 

Sec. 7-9.   Fire hydrants.

Hydrants shall be installed in accordance with the Colchester Department of Public Works Specifications and Standards.

All hydrants shall be equipped with a four-inch STORZ Fire Department Connection (FDC). Where a Fire Department Connection (FDC) is present, an additional hydrant shall be installed by the property owner within seventy-five (75) feet of the FDC. 

(Ord. of 5-14-13; Ord. of 5-25-21) 

Sec. 7-10.   Private driveways and roads requirements.

This Section pertains to parcels that use or intend to use a private driveway or road to provide access. Each of the following conditions must be met prior to occupancy: 

(a)  The length of a private driveway, for the purpose of this Code shall be the distance measured along the centerline of the driveway from the curb cut in the public road to the subject structure. If the private driveway does not extend to the structure, the length of a private driveway is measured along the centerline of the driveway from the curb cut in the public road to fifty (50) feet from the subject structure. 

(b)  A private driveway shall be extended to, at minimum, within fifty (50) feet of the structure served. 

(c)  All private driveways, excepting private driveways Type I, shall have at least six-foot wide zone on each side of the driveway clear of encumbrances such as trees, structure, and rocks for plowed snow storage area on each side. In driveways under fifty (50) feet and driveways serving commercial structures, designated snow storage areas shall be permissible in lieu of the six-foot wide zone. 

(d)  Every private driveway in excess of one hundred fifty (150) feet in length shall be provided with approved provisions for the turning around (see Figure 3.5 and 3.6 of the Colchester Public Works Specifications and Standards for dimensional requirements for a turn around). 

(e)  A private driveway shall have a minimum of thirteen and one-half-foot height clearance. 

(f)  All private driveways, excepting private driveways Type I, shall be constructed so as to support a forty-thousand-pound vehicle. 

(g)  All private driveways shall meet the following dimensional requirements unless waived by the AHJ: 


Minimum Width 

Private driveway Type I 

10 feet 

Private driveway Type II > 50 feet but 
< 300 feet in length 

15 feet 

Private roads Type II > 300 feet in length 

20 feet 

Private driveway Type III 

20 feet 

Private road 

Per the requirement of Colchester Code of Ordinance Chapter 14, Public Works Specifications and Standards for roadway design standards as amended from time to time 


(Ord. of 5-14-13) 


Sec. 7-11. Fire alarms.

Sec. 7-11.   Fire alarms.

Deliberate damage to, or disabling a fire alarm system or any components thereof is prohibited and fines may be levied by the FC in accordance with Section 7-7 of the Colchester Code of Ordinances, "Penalty for Violations". The fine amounts shall be as defined in the Code of Ordinances unless a specific fine amount is included in the text of a specific section. 

(a)  The building owner is at all times responsible for having the fire alarm system and all components operating correctly in accordance with the manufacturer's requirements and all applicable regulatory codes and standards. 

(b)  Notification shall be transmitted to the Fire/Police Dispatch Center prior to any testing or maintenance that would result in the fire alarm system being disabled for any length of time. The FC may fine a building owner for a failure to make the necessary notification. 

(c)  The fire alarm system and all its equipment shall be under full control of the Fire Department during a fire or a false alarm investigation. A person or employer who willingly resets or tampers with the fire alarm system at any time after activation of the alarm, without permission from the FC may be referred to the FC for enforcement action. 

(d)  Noncompliance may result in fines and the immediate shut down of the facility by the FC. Failure to remedy the violation in the time frame allotted by the FC may result in fines and shut down of the facility until a new Certificate of Occupancy can be obtained. 

(e)  No person shall knowingly give or cause to be given a false alarm of fire, or cause a fire alarm to activate when no fire or smoke is present, or, after an alarm has been given, maliciously and/or falsely proclaim the fire to be extinguished. 

(f)  Every person calling in an alarm of the fire shall forthwith give their name and address and a call back telephone number. 

(g)  Buildings that are equipped with fire alarms systems shall be permitted two (2) false alarm calls within one (1) calendar month. The FC may fine the building owner the amount of five hundred dollars ($500.00) for each instance of a false alarm following the first two (2) false alarms within a calendar month. The owner may contest the fine and request a Court Hearing. The owner may elect to waive the Court Hearing and accept a waiver penalty of a two hundred fifty dollar ($250.00) fine. 

(Ord. of 5-14-13; Ord. of 5-25-21) 


Sec. 7-12. Definitions.

Sec. 7-13. Open burning.

Sec. 7-12.   Definitions.

For the purposes of this Section on "open burning", the following definitions shall apply: 

(a)  Air contaminants shall mean dust, fumes, mist, smoke, other particulate matter, vapor, gas, odorous substances or any combination thereof. 

(b)  Emission shall mean a release of air contaminants. 

(c)  Fuel shall mean any form of combustible matter, solid, liquid or gas used to produce heat, light, or power by burning, but excluding refuse. Fuel includes, but is not limited to, coal, coke, charcoal, natural gas, propane, gas, fuel oil and wood. 

(d)  Open burning shall mean any burning that takes place other than in heating systems, cooking systems, candles or lamps, welding equipment, or burning authorized by specific permit. 

(e)  Refuse shall mean all solid or liquid wastes, including, but not limited to, animal and vegetable wastes resulting from the handling, preparation, cooking and consumption of food; street cleanings; dead animals; abandoned automobiles; solid market and industrial wastes; paper; cardboard; tin cans; glass; bedding; crockery; plywood composite materials; dimensional lumber; pressure-treated materials; and other building materials. 

 (Ord. of 5-14-13; Ord. of 4-14-20; Ord. of 5-25-21) 

Sec. 7-13.   Open burning.

(a)  No refuse, grass, leaves, or downed trees shall be burned. 

(b)  All open burning shall be extinguished when not attended to. 

(c)  No open burning shall occur within a fully enclosed structure. 

(d)  The Fire Chief, or their designee may order any open burn to be extinguished if the FC judges the fire or the conditions under which the burning occurs is a threat to public safety or property. 

(e)  All open burning shall require a permit obtainable at the fire department except as herein specifically excluded: 

(1)  The burning of fuels for cooking purposes; 

(2)  Barbecue pits less than thirty (30) inches in diameter; or 

(3)  Campfires and bonfires less than thirty (30) inches in diameter. 

(f)  At the discretion of the FC, a permit may be issued for special occasions allowing bonfires greater than thirty (30) inches in diameter. 

(g)  Open burning permits and fees. A specific permit may be granted by the FC or duly appointed designee to engage in open burning in accordance with the following: 

(1)  No hazardous condition will be created by such burning and the emission of air contaminants will not create a danger to public safety and health. Permits shall be for specified days, specified location, and for a specified material. The hours within which said burning may take place may be specified on the permit. 

(2)  Open burning of leafless brush four (4) inches or less in diameter shall be permitted if the outermost edge of the burning site is: 

a.  At least one hundred fifty (150) feet or more from the closest dwelling located in the vicinity of, but not including, the permit holder's dwelling during the months of January and February. 

b.  At least (300) feet or more from the nearest dwelling located in the vicinity of, but not including, the permit holder's dwelling during the remainder of the year. 

All distances shall be measured from the outermost edge of the burning site in a straight line to the nearest point on the closest dwelling. The minimum distances imposed in subsections (g)(2)a. and (g)(2)b. shall not limit the FC from imposing greater distances between the site and any structure as a permit condition under subsection (g)(1). 

(h)  A violation of this Section shall constitute a civil ordinance violation as described in Sections 7-6 (Appeals) and 7-7 (Penalty for Violations) of this Ordinance. In addition to the procedures contained in Sections 7-6 and 7-7, the following shall apply to any civil violation under this Section: 

(1)  Any person who violates a provision of this Section 7-13 shall be subject to fees as described in subsection (h)(2). The FC or Law Enforcement Officers shall be authorized to act as Issuing Municipal Officials to issue a Municipal Complaint under this Section 7-14. 

(2)  Fee schedule: 

a.  First offense: Two hundred dollars ($200.00) plus Fire Department expense up to five hundred dollars ($500.00). The waiver fee shall be one hundred dollars ($100.00) for the first offense. 

b.  Second offense: Four hundred dollars ($400.00) plus Fire Department expense up to five hundred dollars ($500.00). The waiver fee shall be two hundred dollars ($200.00) for the second offense. 

c.  Third offense: Eight hundred dollars ($800.00) plus Fire Department expense up to five hundred dollars ($500.00). The waiver fee shall be four hundred dollars ($400.00) for the third offense. 

d.  Upon the fourth offense, the Town may request that the case be transferred from the Judicial Bureau to any other Court of Competent Jurisdiction. 

(3)  Offenses shall be counted on a calendar year basis. 

(4)  In addition to the enforcement procedures available before the Judicial Bureau as described in subsection 7-7(a), the Town Manager or designee is authorized to commence a civil action to obtain injunctive and other appropriate relief, or to pursue any other remedy authorized by law. 

(i)         The Town will, directly or through a regional group of which the Town is a member, establish drop-off areas for residents of Colchester to bring leaves for disposal in the Autumn and Spring seasons.

(Ord. of 5-14-13; Ord. of 11-13-18; Ord. of 4-15-20; Ord. of 5-25-21) 




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