Ordinances & Policies

Notice to Readers

Chapters 2 and 8 of the Town Ordinances are Reserved for future use.

The user should always consult the Town Administrative Offices (depending on which ordinance) to confirm the information that they are seeking.

Town Ordinances


Title 1 


1.01        Code Adoption

Chapter 1.01


1.01.010               Adoption of code.
1.01.020               Reference to code.
1.01.030               Reference applies to amendments.
1.01.040               Title, chapter and section headings.
1.01.050               References to ordinances to apply to corresponding code provisions.
1.01.060               Effect of code on past actions and obligations.
1.01.070               Scope.
1.01.080               Savings clause.
1.01.090               Severability.

1.01.010               Adoption of code.

There is adopted the “Essex Municipal Code” as compiled, edited and published by Book Publishing Company, Seattle, Washington. (§ 1 of Ord. passed 10/2/89)


1.01.020               Reference to code.

In any prosecution for the violation of any provision of said code or in any proceeding involving said code, it shall be sufficient to refer to said code as the “Essex Municipal Code.” It shall be sufficient to designate any ordinance adding to, amending, correcting or repealing all or any part thereof as an addition to, amendment to, correction or repeal of the “Essex Municipal Code.” Further reference may be had to the titles, chapters, sections and subsections of the “Essex Municipal Code” and such references shall apply to that numbered title, chapter, section and subsection as it appears in the code. (§ 2 of Ord. passed 10/2/89)


1.01.030               Reference applies to amendments.

Any reference to the “Essex Municipal Code” or to any ordinance of the town codified therein, shall apply to all amendments, corrections and additions heretofore or hereafter made. (§3 of Ord. passed 10/2/89)


1.01.040               Title, chapter and section headings.

Title, chapter and section headings contained in said code shall not be deemed to govern, limit, modify or in any manner affect the scope, meaning or intent of the provisions contained in any title, chapter or section thereof. (§4 of Ord. passed 10/2/89)


1.01.050               References to ordinances to apply to corresponding code provisions.

The provisions of this code shall not in any manner affect matters of record which refer to, or are otherwise connected with, ordinances which are therein specifically designated by number or otherwise and which are included within the code; such references shall be construed to apply to the corresponding provisions contained within the code. (§ 5 of Ord. passed 10/2/89)


1.01.060               Effect of code on past actions and obligations.

The adoption of this code shall not affect prosecutions for ordinance violations committed prior to the effective date of this code, does not waive any fee or penalty due and not paid on the effective date of this code, and does not affect the validity of any bond, letter of credit or cash deposit posted, filed or deposited pursuant to the requirements of any ordinance. (§ 6 of Ord. passed 10/2/89)


1.01.070               Scope.

This code includes all ordinances adopted through June 5, 1989 and subsequent amendments. Specifically not codified are zoning regulations, subdivision regulations and policy statements. (§ 7 of Ord. passed 10/2/89)


1.01.080               Savings clause.

Adoption of the codifications of ordinances shall not be construed to repeal, modify or amend the substantive provisions of any duly adopted ordinance existing as of the date hereof. (§ 8 of Ord. passed 10/2/89)


1.01.090               Severability.

In the event any section, subsection, sentence, clause or phrase of this code is for any reason held to be invalid or unconstitutional, such decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of the code. (§ 9 of Ord. passed 10/2/89)

Town Policies

DOWNLOAD Communications Policy (pdf)

Town of Essex Communications Policy 
Adopted 5/18/2015
Revised 4/5/2021

The Town of Essex Communication Policy applies to all elected and appointed board, committee, and commission members. The goal of the policy is to ensure that Essex residents receive accurate and timely information. 

Any communication – be it email, telephone, in person, on social media, or otherwise – should be considered public unless subject to a statutorily listed and invoked exemption to the public records law. 

I. Public Communication 

Selectboard: The Selectboard may choose to speak as a unified group on official matters. Selectboard members may also choose to speak as individual members. In speaking as an individual member rather than on behalf of the entire Board, the member should endeavor to clearly make the distinction. For example, Board members should consider utilizing the following phrase or a similar one: “The Selectboard has taken position ____. My position is ____.” In instances where no vote has been taken, no member of the Board should express an opinion as if it were the position of the entire Board. 


Board members uncertain of the accuracy of technical or factual information are encouraged to work with staff, through the Manager’s office, to obtain factual and complete information. 

Formal positions of the Selectboard, or calls or questions seeking the official opinion of the Selectboard, should be referred to the Chair unless another Board member has been designated by the body. When responding to an email comment or question Selectboard members are encouraged to copy the Chair or other Board member designated by the body. 


Elected and appointed board, committee, and commission members must be mindful to prevent email or social media conversations from inadvertently violating Open Meeting Law. At no time should a quorum of members have a discussion regarding Town business, with the following exceptions, as set forth by 1 VSA § 312 (g):

  • Communications to schedule a meeting, organize an agenda, or distribute materials to discuss at a meeting;
  • Clerical work;
  • Staff work assignments;
  • Routine day-to-day administrative matters, if no action is required and no money appropriated or spent;
  • Site inspections; or
  • Quasi-judicial deliberations.


All members of an appointed board, committee, or commission are responsible for ensuring that any information conveyed by an individual member is accurate and complete. Members are encouraged to work with the relevant staff to obtain factual and complete information. Official communication related to a board, committee, or commission should be through the Chair or other member designated by the body. Chairs of appointed boards, committees, or commissions are encouraged to notify the Selectboard Chair and Manager of any response to media inquiries.  


II. Responses to Public Comments 

The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently held that in accordance with the First Amendment citizens have a right to criticize government regardless of the quality or accuracy of the criticism. When a citizen chooses to run for local elected office, inherent in that decision is acknowledgment that in the course of discharging governmental responsibilities one’s words and actions may be publicly criticized or condemned, and that the criticism or condemnation may be unfair, inaccurate, or politically motivated. The elected official does not have recourse to the same legal protections from defamation that a private person may as long as the criticism pertains to government-related issues. 

This policy is not intended to discourage any elected or appointed official from exercising that individual’s First Amendment rights. However, board, committee, and commission members must always keep in mind that, due to the public nature of their roles, their personal online communications can be perceived as also official communications or positions of the Selectboard and Town. Therefore members must practice discretion when communicating online.


The Town of Essex supports and promotes an open exchange of views on community and government issues taking place in a broad array of physical and digital forums. Elected and appointed officials are encouraged to participate in these exchanges when such participation is valuable to the overall dialogue. Any response should be in accordance with the following protocol:


Selectboard: As the elected officials representing all residents of Essex, Board members may participate in the above referenced exchanges or dialogues as individuals. To the extent practicable, such participation shall conform to this policy regardless of forum. If an individual Board member does participate, that member should inform the other Board members of this participation. When responding to inaccurate or deliberately misleading information, Board members are encouraged to work with the Manager to ensure that any information provided by the Board member is accurate. 

Appointed officials (members of other boards, committees, and commissions): Appointed officials may participate in the above referenced exchanges or dialogues as individuals. Representation of official Town policy or proposals, unless otherwise determined, should be left to members of the Selectboard (via the Chair) or Manager. To the extent practicable, such participation shall conform to this policy regardless of forum. 


Approved by the Essex Selectboard on May 18, 2015. Amended May 6, 2019; April 5, 2021.