COLORADO LAND USE LAW
COLORADO LAND USE LAW
The State of Colorado delegates its “police power” authority to local governments through enabling legislation. All land use controls and plans must promote and protect the health, safety, and welfare of the constituents in the jurisdiction. In addition, public and private land use restrictions must comply with the federal and state constitutional rights and duties.
Statutory and home-rule communities and statutory counties are primarily responsible for designing, adopting, implementing, and enforcing land use planning documents and controls at the local level.
Colorado Revised Statutes [CRS 30-28-103, et seq.] authorizes counties to regulate land uses through zoning, to appoint a planning commission, and to prepare and adopt a comprehensive plan for the physical development of their jurisdictions.
CRS 31-23-202, et seq. authorizes municipalities to regulate land use through zoning, to appoint a planning commission, and to prepare and adopt a comprehensive plan for the physical development of their jurisdictions.
Since 1972, counties have been required to adopt subdivision regulations [CRS 30-28-133, et seq.] and they are optional for municipalities [CRS 31-23- 214, et seq.] As defined in CRS 30-28-101(10) for counties and CRS 31-23-201 (2) for municipalities, the term “subdivision” is any parcel of land which is to be used for condominiums, apartments, or any other multiple dwelling units, or which is divided into two or more parcels unless specifically excluded in the same section. Specifically excluded from the definition of subdivision within counties is any division of land resulting in parcels of 35 acres or more.
In contrast to the relative prescriptive nature of zoning and subdivision regulations, planned unit developments (PUDs) provide developers and residents with the ability to integrate the particulars of the geographical area with innovative building designs and usage patterns. CRS 24-67-101, et seq. authorizes counties and municipalities to use Planned Unit Developments (PUDs).
The Municipal Annexation Act of 1965 [CRS 31-12-101, et seq. as amended] authorizes municipalities to annex and establish procedures and limitations for annexation.
According to CRS 24-68-101, et seq. as amended, municipalities and counties are empowered to establish a property rights vesting process and determine when vesting occurs in the development review process within a jurisdiction. If a local government does not adopt an ordinance or resolution, vesting will automatically occur upon approval of any plan, plat, drawing or sketch.
In order to enhance the safety, protection, and sanitation of dwellings, buildings, and structures, building codes for the protection of the health, safety, morals, and general welfare of the public may be adopted and enforced by counties [CRS 30-28-201, et seq.] and municipalities [CRS 31-15-601, et seq.].
Per CRS 29-20-104.5, et seq., counties and statutory municipalities are given broad impact fee authority enabling them to require fees for new development as a means to pay for the costs of new growth. Home rule municipalities are also authorized to collect impact fees by virtue of their constitutional home rule powers.
The Local Government Land Use Control Enabling Act [CRS 29-20-101 et. seq.] grants counties and municipalities broad authority to plan for and regulate the use of land in nine specific subject areas and responsibilities. Moreover, CRS 24-65.1-101 et. seq. allows local governments to identify, designate, and regulate 21 “areas and activities of state interest.”
Other statutes that give jurisdictions powers over land use activities within their boundaries include, but are not limited to:
- CRS 31-23-212 & 213 enables a municipality to enforce its major street plan on all land within three miles of its boundaries.
- CRS 31-15-401 through 601 allows a municipality to prohibit or regulate nuisances within three miles of city limits and storage of explosives within one mile.
- CRS 30-28-136, et seq. requires counties to submit a copy of any preliminary plan for a subdivision to affected governments, including school districts, special districts, counties, and municipalities located within two miles of the proposal.
- CRS 24-32-3209, et seq. requires jurisdictions adopting or amending a master plan to give notice of the proposed plan or amendments to all neighboring jurisdictions for review. The neighboring jurisdictions may file objections to the proposed plan or amendments and may compel the planning jurisdiction to participate in mediation.
- CRS 29-20 through 107 authorizes and encourages local governments to cooperate or contract with other units of government for purposes of planning or regulating the development of land. Local governments may engage in mutually binding and enforceable comprehensive development and/or revenue sharing plans through intergovernmental agreements (IGAs).
Sources: Colorado Revised Statutes and Colorado Real Estate Manual from the Colorado Division of Real Estate.