South Burlington Zoning Change

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The South Burlington City Council voted 4-0 to approve a zoning change to allow auto sales on two new parcels in South Burlington:  the old Hannaford building and the current Lowes building. This has been called the “Tesla” zoning fix because the company wants to build its first Vermont showroom and service center at the old grocery store but the old zoning rules didn't allow it. Tesla (or any other auto dealer) is now able to apply for a permit from the South Burlington Development Review Board. That process will take at least two months but often takes much longer, depending on the plans and the schedule. If Tesla does decide to apply for a permit, they will also have to file an Application for Dealer Registration with the Vermont DMV. This is required under a 2021 Vermont law regulating sales from non-franchised electric vehicle manufacturers.

This zoning change opens up a new area of South Burlington to car sales, regardless of the manufacturer. It will likely bring one or more new stores to the Shelburne Road corridor which could be a bigger draw for consumers looking to buy a vehicle that fits their family needs and budget. It also reinforces that customers overwhelmingly prefer purchasing cars at a local dealership. A recent survey found that 74% of consumers preferred buying an EV at a dealership instead of an auto manufacturer or third party. Additionally, 71% of respondents said they did not want to deal with third-party call centers to service their vehicles.