Larimer County is updating its Land Use Code, a regulatory document that establishes procedures and standards that mandate how property is used and developed. The current Land Use Code was adopted in 2000; however, a comprehensive evaluation of the regulations has not been completed for 30 years. 

The primary goals of the Land Use Code 2020 project are:

  • Update the regulations for clarity and enforceability
  • Tailor regulations to the unique context areas of the County (mountain and foothill, rural / agriculture, and urban)
  • Implement the Larimer County Comprehensive Plan, Transportation Plan, Open Lands Plan, and other relevant planning efforts

Additional goals include:  

  • Align the Land Use Code with Colorado State Statutes
  • Update the zoning districts to align with the framework categories identified in the Comprehensive Plan
  • Introduce flexible tools and improve user-friendliness, including new graphics
  • Establish standards and procedures that differentiate between urban and rural development patterns
  • Update procedures to support a fair, predictable, and efficient development review process and tailor approval criteria and review authority to address unique circumstances and site contexts
  • Refine regulatory practices to address recovery efforts after unforeseen events

The Land Use Code 2020 project will not involve updates to adopted County plan documents or the Building Code. The project team is being led by County staff with support from Clarion Associates, a Denver-based national land use consulting firm that specializes in zoning and plan implementation.

Updating the County’s Land Use Code is a major undertaking and will require substantial community input and collaboration among a wide range of Larimer County stakeholders. Below is a summary of the project timeline and major project tasks:

LUC2020 Scope Graphic


Task 1:  Project Orientation (August 2019)

As a first step, the team will review background ordinances, plans, and related materials to prepare for initial meetings in August 2019 with County staff, decision-making bodies, the Advisory Committee, Technical Advisory Committee, and other community stakeholders. These meetings will help shed light on where the current Land Use Code is working well and where it can be improved. The project team will tour Larimer County with staff to see how key land use issues are playing out in practice in various contexts – mountain and foothill, rural/agriculture, and urban. 

LUC-Tasks-1-2-Bullet

Task 2:  Code Assessment (Fall 2019)

The project team will evaluate the current Land Use Code in detail and prepare a report that outlines the major issues to be addressed in the project, based on the team’s independent review and stakeholder feedback. The assessment will include potential new approaches for Larimer County based on national and Colorado best practices. An annotated outline will be prepared showing how a revised code could be organized, serving as a roadmap for the remainder of the project.


Task 3:  Prepare the Draft Land Use Code (Batch 1) (Fall 2019 - Summer 2020)

Following the assessment report, the project team will draft the revised Land Use Code in three installments – zoning districts and use regulations, development and design standards, and administration and procedures. These installments will focus on high priority topics to address known code issues. The specific topics addressed during this task will be identified during Task 2. Example topics may include use regulations, the lineup of zoning districts, and land division regulations.

For each of the three installments, the project team will prepare a public draft and post those materials on the project website and present the materials in person to the project committees and to the general public.]


Task 4:  Adoption (Batch 1) (Winter 2020)

After receiving input on the Consolidated Draft, the project team will create an Adoption Draft for consideration and recommendation by the Planning Commission and approval by the Board of County Commissioners. The team will also prepare an Executive Summary, comparing the existing and proposed regulations, and summarizing all major changes. This will be presented during a series of public hearings to inform and educate decision-makers and to solicit additional public input. The target adoption date of Batch 1 is the end of 2020.

Task 4 Bullet


Task 5:  Prepare and Adopt the Draft Land Use Code (Batch 2) (Spring 2020 - Winter 2021)

Following the adoption of Batch 1, Clarion will revisit the Land Use Code to focus on those topics that were not addressed during the drafting of Batch 1, according to the agreed-upon sequencing established in the Code Assessment. Rather than dividing the drafting of Batch 2 into three installments like Batch 1, a single staff draft will be prepared. This draft will include final versions of illustrations, charts, tables, and revised text and will address any outstanding issues noted in earlier tasks. Following distribution of the Adoption Draft, Clarion will return to Larimer County to present the draft to the County Commissioners.