The City Planning Commission of South Burlington recently approved zoning changes bringing a Tesla Vermont center closer to approval.
Tesla plans to refurbish a former Hannaford grocery store in South Burlington into its first dealership in Vermont. The former Hannaford property has been vacant for four years. Currently, the building is a Halloween store.
Earlier this year, Tesla requested that the South Burlington Planning Commission rezone the property for its dealership. The Planning Commission supported Tesla’s request but suggested rezoning other sites along or near Shelburne Road.
A South Burlington document obtained by Teslarati discusses Tesla’s request and the Planning Commission’s amendments. Below are excerpts from the document, along with a map illustrating the zoning changes.
“In Area (1), allowed uses would be modified and residential base densities reduced on the subject properties. Lot and building coverages and setbacks would not be affected. Two of the three involved properties are presently approved for auto sales in the C1-Auto district; this use is allowed in the Commercial 2 district as well. The third property is a municipal fire station. LDR-22-08 would continue to permit that use.”
“In Area (2), auto sales would no longer allowed following a change from C1-Auto and C1-R15. No auto sales uses are presently approved in the affected area.”
“In Area (3), auto sales would be newly allowed following a change from C1-R15 to C1-Auto. No auto sales uses are presently approved in the affected area, but would become eligible.”
According to South Burlington’s Planning and Zoning Director Paul Conner, Tesla now needs the City Council’s approval for its Vermont dealership.
Tesla Vermont Center
Before electric vehicles and startups like Tesla became a mainstay in the auto industry, Vermont did not permit vehicle manufacturers to operate dealerships. The state required automakers to work with dealership franchise holders.
However, as electric vehicle sales picked up in the state, Vermont’s take on direct sales appeared to change. In 2021, Vermont created an exemption for any “non-franchised zero-emission vehicle manufacturer that directly owns, operates, and controls the warranty or service facility.” The legal exemption applies to EV automakers like Tesla, Rivian, and Lucid.
In the first half of 2022, 1,175 new EVs were sold in Vermont. As of June 2022, 7,500 EVs were on the state’s roads, making up 6.2% of sales, shared David Roberts—Vermont’s Drive Electric program coordinator.
Tesla used to dominate Vermont’s EV sales. However, in the first half of 2022, Tesla sales slipped behind Toyota. Tesla recorded 210 new EV sales in the first six months of the year, while Toyota sold 228 new electric vehicle in the same period, reported Seven Days.
Tesla will probably turn the former Hannaford grocery store into a multifunctional center for service, sales, and deliveries. The center could boost Tesla’s sales in Vermont.