Community Development COVID-19 Statement

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The County's Land Use Code sets the rules for developing land in the unincorporated area of the county. The Code includes a variety of review processes that are used to evaluate development applications.

The details of the County's development review processes are found in various sections of the Land Use Code. Most review processes are subject to the standards found in Section 8.0. Development review procedures are found in Section 12.0.

Additional Resources


  1. The County established land use regulations based upon the desire of its citizens to manage growth and development in a responsible manner. Larimer County's zoning districts were established in the early 1960's, followed by adoption of County Master Plans in 1976, 1988, and 1997. These Master Plans were adopted following lengthy and considerable public debate and input.

    The current County Master Plan (1997) sets forth the general principles and strategies to be used by the County to guide growth and development. The Larimer County Land Use Code is intended to implement the adopted Master Plan and provide a balance between the rights and responsibilities of property owners in a rapidly growing county.

  2. The answer to this question depends on the type of application that is submitted. Section 12.2 of the Land Use Code outlines development review procedures, including the responsibilities and authority of various Boards and Commissions. The final decision on most land use applications (see Section 12.2.7.A. for listing) is made by the Board of County Commissioners.

    Various Boards and Commissions provide input to the Board of County Commissioners prior to final decisions for some review processes. Please visit the County's Boards and Commissions page for more details on the duties and responsibilities of these and other boards and commissions that serve Larimer County residents.

    Certain types of applications can go through an administrative approval process, handled by the staff in the Planning Department. These applications include:

    • public site plan
    • site plan review
    • certain extended family dwelling site plans
    • farmstead site plan
    • boundary line adjustment
    • add-on agreement
    • administrative setback variance
  3. Most of the county's development applications will go through a public hearing process. After an application is submitted, the materials are reviewed by various agencies who provide written comments to the County. Depending on the type of application, notifications may also be sent to property owners in the vicinity of the proposed development. The application will be scheduled for public hearing when the review is completed.

    At the hearing, presentations will be made by staff and the applicant, and public testimony will be taken. Any person can appear at a public hearing to testify or submit evidence regarding the application. There may be discussion by the board or commission conducting the hearing, as well as staff and/or applicant response to questions. The board/commission will make its recommendation or decision at the hearing to approve, to approve with conditions, or to deny the application.

  4. Review times and hearing requirements vary, depending on the specific process involved. We'll be able to give you the estimated time for completing a specific process.

    The development review process and schedule is intended to meet State mandated legal notice requirements and the needs of the applicant, many different internal and external reviewing agencies, nearby property owners, planning staff, the applicable County advisory boards, and the Board of County Commissioners.

    Larimer County, within the parameters set by the State, has established a process for each type of development application. Each process has specific steps that occur in sequential order, with specific time deadlines that need to be met for the process to continue on schedule.

    It is staff's goal to move applications through the development review process as quickly as possible without hampering the ability of interested and involved parties to conduct a thorough review. If you have concerns about the review time for a specific development application, please contact the staff planner assigned to that project.

  5. Please see the Development Review Fees handout on our Applications Forms and Information page under the "general forms and handouts" section.

  6. The purpose of the pre-application conference is to discuss the procedure, development standards, and submittal requirements involved with a particular application. This conference is a meeting between the applicant, a member of the County planning staff, and other staff as needed. A pre-application conference is required by the Larimer County Land Use Code for all land use applications.

    Based on many years of experience, the County has found that a common cause for delays in the development review process is either submittal of an incomplete application or one with inadequate information. The pre-application conference is intended to help the applicant gain a clear understanding of the County's review process and submittal requirements, which results in more complete applications and a better review process for all involved.

  7. The purpose of the neighborhood meeting is to give the applicant the opportunity to present the proposed project to nearby residents and property owners who may be affected by the proposal. The meeting is held prior to the time the applicant submits their application to the County for public hearing so that he/she can consider the comments received at the neighborhood meeting and adjust the project accordingly. This timing is intended to result in applications that are less likely to require changes as the result of input received from neighbors at public hearings--this can save the applicant considerable time and money.

    Neighborhood meetings are required for many of the County's review processes. Information handouts regarding the neighborhood input process for both applicants and neighbors can be found on our Applications Forms and Information page under the "general forms and handouts" section.

  8. Comments, questions and suggestions from the public can help an applicant with the design of their proposed development, especially if concerns are discovered early in the review process. Applicants may then be able to make adjustments to their development plans to address neighborhood concerns.

    Public involvement is an important part of the County's development review process, from initial sketch plan submittals through public hearings. Neighborhood input is essential in understanding the potential impacts of a development proposal in a particular area. Public comment and testimony is part of the information considered by the County's boards and commissions when making decisions on land use applications.

  9. Property owners in the vicinity of a proposed development project are notified about the submittal and given options for providing input, beginning with the sketch plan review step. Information about current applications is posted on the Pending Case Map.

  10. The answer to this question depends on many factors, including:

    • location, size and zoning of the property
    • whether the County's minimum development standards can be met and
    • whether the application is approved through the County's public hearing process

    An initial check of the property's zoning/minimum lot size requirement and the property's size would determine whether there was enough land to propose to divide it. The size and location of the property would determine which review process is required.

    Planning staff can help you with questions about specific properties. Contact staff at (970) 498-7679 or send us an email.

  11. An exemption is simply a type of land division process that was used by Larimer County in the past. During the 1970s and 1980s, the County's regulations included options for subdividing land for new building lots through a simplified "exemption" processes (exempt from going through the full subdivision review process).

    Larimer County currently does not have a "recorded exemption" process. The only exemption option that remains in the County's Land Use Code is the Minor Land Division (MLD) process. The MLD process can be used only in specific circumstances and is generally not an option for creating new vacant building lots. See the Land Division Processes page for more information on minor land divisions.

  12. Growth Management Area (GMA) overlay zone districts are designated adjacent to municipalities where urban level development and annexation are expected and where development may have an impact on present and future municipal growth. The county and the adjacent municipalities have agreements in place to address growth management in those areas.

    If your unincorporated county property is in a GMA overlay zone and is already adjacent to city limits, then annexation may be required depending on the type of development you propose. Proposals for certain subdivisions (planned land divisions), rezonings (PD-Planned Development), and for special review uses will require annexation and development of the site according to that city's requirements. Our staff can determine what process your development proposal would require, check to see if your property is adjacent to city limits, and advise you of your next steps. Contact staff at (970) 498-7679 or send us an email.

  13. The Land Use Code includes provisions for appealing the minimum development standards. An appeal to use a different standard may either be proposed as part of a development review application or it may be proposed as a separate application. In either case, a written request for the appeal must be submitted. The planner assigned to your project can provide you more details on the appeals process, or you may contact staff at (970) 498-7679 or send us an email requesting more information.

  14. Anyone can submit an application for review, but the property owner(s) must sign the application form to acknowledge that their property is the subject of the application and to grant access permission to county staff to inspect it in regards to that application.


Contact Planning Department

Larimer County Planning Department
200 W. Oak Street, Third Floor, Fort Collins, CO 80521
On-call Planner:
(970) 498-7679
Email Planning Department
Department Directory