Williston, VT asked in Gov & Administrative Law and Municipal Law for Vermont

Q: Can the words "shall" and "must" and "prohibit" be used in the goals of a municipal plan?

I am a Planning Commissioner involved in writing South Burlington's Municipal Plan.

1 Lawyer Answer
T. Augustus Claus
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A: Certainly, in the context of drafting a municipal plan, the use of terms like "shall," "must," and "prohibit" is common and can be essential for conveying the intent and requirements of the plan. "Shall" and "must" typically denote mandatory actions or obligations, making it clear that certain policies or goals are non-negotiable and must be implemented. For instance, stating that "new developments shall prioritize energy efficiency" emphasizes the importance of this requirement.

The term "prohibit" is employed when the plan intends to explicitly disallow specific activities or land uses within certain areas of the municipality. For example, if the plan states that "the municipal plan prohibits heavy industrial activities in residential zones," it communicates a clear restriction.

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