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Development Review Guide

Sign Up for Conceptual Review or Preliminary Design Review

Introduction | Conceptual Review | Preliminary Design Review | City Staff | Neighborhood Meetings

A: If you are unsure which to choose, contact a city planner.

Your first meeting with the City's development review team will be at either a conceptual review or preliminary design review. Conceptual reviews are designed for less complex proposals and are free of charge. Larger proposals usually opt for preliminary design review which costs $500.

After your initial review, but before submitting a formal application, some proposals will need to hold a neighborhood meeting based on the proposed uses and the zone district. Your city planner will inform you at your initial review whether a neighborhood meeting is needed.

Free Conceptual Review

Anyone with a viable development idea can schedule a conceptual review to get feedback on their idea. Conceptual review is a free City service to assist developers in understanding what is required during development review. At conceptual review, several City staff members from various departments will offer comments on your development proposal.

Staff has three time slots on three monday morning per month for conceptual reviews. Each slot is 45-minutes long and runs from 9:30 AM - 11:00 AM on a "first come, first served" basis. Once the three time slots are filled, additional conceptual reviews are not be accepted.

Two Tuesdays prior to your Monday conceptual review meeting, you must submit an application, as well as a sketch plan showing your proposal's vicinity and development concept. A complete application and site plan (sketch plan) are required to reserve your time slot, once again on a first come, first served basis.

The sketch plan should include the location of the proposal, major streets and other significant features in the vicinity. Photos of the area are not required, but are often useful. Presentation drawings can range from informal sketches to fully-rendered drawings. The more information you provide to staff (based on the research you did in Step 1) the more detailed feedback you'll receive from City staff.

At the conceptual review, you will recieve a comment letter summarizing staff comments and providing contact information for each staff member involved in your review. The comments, offered by staff, assist you in preparing the detailed components of your formal application for development review. There is no approval or denial of development proposals in conceptual review. At conceptual review, your city planner will provide you with a comment letter before you leave.

PDRs are Wednesday mornings from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., by appointment, and can last 90 minutes. Consult with a city planner at 970-221-6750 to determine if PDR is right for your proposal.

$500 Preliminary Design Review (PDR)

Preliminary design reviews (PDR) offer an alternative process to the standard conceptual review for larger proposals requiring a greater level of collaboration and problem-solving. Our approach to PDR is akin to the design charrette model; where we work with you collaboratively to identify and begin to resolve complex challenges together.

For a $500 application fee and more detailed submittal package; including preliminary civil plans, site plans, renderings, photos of existing conditions on the site, and detailed project ideas; City staff members from various City departments involved in development review will research the site, offer comments, provide answers to specific questions and offer possible solutions to difficult design challenges.

As with the standard conceptual review, one week after the meeting, a city planner will follow-up with you in writing, summarizing City staff comments and providing telephone and email contact information for each staff member involved in the review of your project. In addition, a PDR will result in a list of critical project issues, strategies for resolution of those issues and answers to specific questions that you posed to us about your proposal. These comments, offered by staff, assist you in preparing the detailed components of your proposal's application and in identifying critical issues. There is no approval or denial of development proposals in a PDR.

City Staff Involved in Development Review

Many city departments will review your development proposal, as will numerous outside agencies and the public. Planning Services serves as the coordinating department. Every development proposal application is assigned a city planner who serves as the primary point of contact for you. Every proposal is also assigned a city engineer as well, who coordinates the final step of development review.

There is a team of city staff involved in development review. Staff is assigned to your proposal is based on its scope, so not all staff are involved in every proposal.

Please note: designs are generated by you, the property owner, or your hired consultants. Though much of city staff have advanced degrees in or are fully licensed in their field and capable of design work, this is not what we are paid to do—please refrain from asking us to perform design work—we must be good stewards of the tax and fee money which supports our development review work.

Neighborhood Meetings

A neighborhood meeting allows the applicant to communicate their proposals to citizens to any impacted or adjacent neighborhoods, early in the design process. Here, residents can communicate their questions and opinions about the proposal to both the applicant and City staff.

Before City Plan and the Land Use Code (pre-1997), local development was subject to the less prescriptive Land Development Guidance System (LDGS). LDGS allowed developers and neighbors to negotiate what types of uses and building types allowed on any given parcel. (Refer to our history of planning in Fort Collins.) City Plan, adopted in 1997, is a more prescriptive comprehensive plan focusing on predictability. It benefits applicants to know at the outset whether what they propose is allowed. If you meet LUC standards, it is likely your proposal will be approved. City Plan benefits neighbors because they know what types of development are allowed and not allowed in any given area. High quality standards for architecture, compatibility and buffering are codified and predictable.

The regulatory arm of City Plan, the Land Use Code, ensures staff are carrying out the community’s vision for its future. As an expected result, residents feel less of a burden in tracking and monitoring development in our community. However, it’s just human nature that change is difficult. Residents may not always like what is proposed in their neighborhoods. City staff conducts neighborhood meetings in the spirit though we may not always agree, we will at least keep open channels of communication. If there is a win-win solution to be found to an issue, we want to provide an opportunity to discover it. It is not uncommon for applicants to voluntarily adapt their plans once they are aware of neighborhood concerns and think about viable alternatives.

Neighborhood meetings are required for certain types of development proposals. During your conceptual review or preliminary design review, your city planner will advise you if a neighborhood meeting is required. Once you are close to submitting your formal development application, contact your planner to schedule the neighborhood meeting and coordinate the logistics. Check out this handy guide, Neighborhood Meeting Guide for Applicants. This guide explains the steps needed to get ready for a neighborhood meeting and explains how the meeting is run. See Land Use Code Section 2.2.6(D) for specific requirements.

Next Step: submit application