Skip to main content

Land Use Code Resources#

Housing

The City’s Land Use Code (LUC) regulates zoning, land use, building design, and more. This page is to help you learn more about the why the Land Use Code is being updated and answer more specific questions you have about what changes are being proposed.

2022 Full Repealed Code

Get the Facts!#

Check out our easy to follow facts sheet below to get started!

Land Use Code Facts Sheet

Find My Zoning#

Revisit Our Info Sessions#

Housing & Demographic Trends

Who is the "everyone" in our housing vision?

Learn about who lives in Fort Collins now, and who will likely live here in the future.

Planning 101

How do we use zoning as a tool to connect us rather than divide us?

Learn how land use codes evolve over time to meet community needs and goals.

Housing Capacity

How do we know that we don't have enough housing?

Learn why it's so hard to build the housing we need.

Housing Choice

How do we build housing for our next chapter?

Learn how land use regulations either create or limit housing options.

Nov. 29, 2022 Information Session#

Following Council's approval of the new Land Development Code, City staff hosted an information session on Nov. 29 to provide additional information about the LDC and answer questions from the community. A recording of the meeting is available below.

View the slide deck

Nearly 200 people attended this information session. The City received 172 questions and comments during the course of the meeting. You can see an unedited list of all the questions and comments on this document. Answers to these questions are addressed in the frequently asked questions below.

Fequently Asked Questions by Topic#

Does this code rezone the entire city?

No. The list of permitted uses and specific development standards changed for some zone districts, and the names of 3 zone districts were changed. However, the zoning designation did not change for any properties in the city.

Is it possible to split an existing lot that is 8,400 sqft into two parcels? 1. 3,800 sqft has existing home 2. would be 4,500 sqft on which a new home would be built.

In OT zone, lot minimum is 4500sf so that specific lot could not be split.


Does the 2,400 sq ft maximum apply to just new houses, or to remodels and additions?

It would also apply to remodels and additions.


What is OT zone?

The Neighborhood Conservation Medium Density Zone (NCM) has been renamed to OT-B, Old Town Medium. The Neighborhood Conservation Buffer zone has been renamed OT-C, Old Town High. The Neighborhood Conservation Low Density zone has been renamed OT-A, Old Town Low.


What is the process and difficulty of an OT lot owner subdividing a large lot like 9-10,000 sf into two lots where then a six unit apartment could be built on each lot? is that possible?

Splitting one lot into two is a process called a Minor Subdivision Plat. You can read about the requirements for the process here, under Planning & Development Review.  You can read about the associated fees here. The minimum lot size for an apartment building in the OT-A, OT-B, and OT-C is 4,500 square feet. The minimum width for a lot with an apartment building is 50 feet. An apartment building with six units would only be allowed if at least 10% (rounded up to 1 unit) of the units are deed-restricted Affordable Housing. Aside from fees, lot size and dedicating one unit as Affordable, things that could stop someone from putting in a 6-unit apartment building would be the geometry of the lot and setbacks. All OT Districts have front setbacks of 15', interior side setbacks of 5', street side setbacks (for corner lots) of 9', Rear setbacks (with no alley) of 15', rear setbacks (with alley) of 5', and additional setbacks for garages.  In OT-A, the rear half of the lot may only contain floor area of up to 25% of the rear 50% of the lot. That floor area includes all stories. In OT-B and OT-C, the rear half of the lot may only contain floor area of up to 33% of the rear 50% of the lot. So on a lot that is 4,500 square feet, the rear half of the lot could only contain up to 1,125 square feet in OT-A, and up to 1,485 square feet in OT-B or OT-C. That square footage would include anything at- or above-grade, including second stories and garages. Lastly, off-street parking requirements could restrict the size of an apartment building. Depending on how many bedrooms were in each unit (1 or fewer up to 4+), a six-unit apartment building would need to provide between 5 and 18 off-street parking spaces for vehicles and between 4 and 15 covered bicycle parking spots. There are further rules about the height of a building and how it needs to step back from property lines as it increases in height. As you can see, while a 6-unit apartment building is not disallowed in these zone districts, the size and geometry of the lot will really dictate the feasibility of the project.


Do the side or rear setback requirements change from what’s existing?

No


Is the OT 2400 square footage max on total square feet or just above ground?

In the OT zones, basements are only counted if the basement walls are 3-feet above existing grade. Basements are not counted in other zones.

If you build 2 additional units to the primary is only 1 of the units need to be affordable?

Correct. In the RL or OT-A zone district, a building that contains three dwelling units (a triplex) would be required to ensure one of the units is deed-restricted at an affordable rent or sale price for 99 years. 

Can a shipping container be used as a primary home?

Any primary home would be required to meet our Building Code requirements. In addition, any home would need to have full living amenities, including a kitchen and bathroom that meet Building Codes. The Land Development Code has design restrictions that would present further challenges to using a shipping container as a primary home, including a minimum roof pitch, architectural features around primary entrances (including, but not limited to a porch or a roof). There are also requirements for homes to fit into their surrounding context, architecturally and visually speaking. These regulations do not strictly prohibit using a shipping container as a primary home, but they would make the use of a shipping container as a primary home a significant challenge. 


What about the areas outside of old town?  We are being and will continue to be inundated with high density affordable housing development!

The zoning for higher density housing types, such as small and large apartment buildings,  is focused in commercial areas and along major transportation corridors, including areas of high-frequency transit service, such as Downtown, College Avenue/Mason corridor, and Campus West area.


In my current low density residential district, can my next-door neighbors home be purchased by a residential invester and turned into a duplex or triplex and now I have three families living next door?

If your home is in the Low Density Residential Zone District (RL), and the lot next to yours is at least 6,000 square feet and at least 100' wide, a triplex with at least one deed-restricted Affordable Housing unit could be built, provided the lot can also accommodate off-street parking for between 3 and 9 parking spaces, and between 3 and 12 covered bicycle parking spaces (depending on how many bedrooms per unit), and at least 12' x 18' of private outdoor space per unit. The minimum setbacks on the lot would be 20 feet in the front, 5 feet (along an alley) or 15' (with no alley) in the back, 5' along the side (interior), and 15' along the street side on a corner lot. There may be more restrictive setbacks if there is a dedicated landscape plan or other restrictions like easements indicated on the property's plat. The building could be three stories, but only if the third story had a 25' setback from property lines on all sides. In addition there are rules about how close buildings can be to one another on a property (for example a triplex and a garage), with a 5' minimum or 10' minimum if the walls aren't rated for fire protection. There are also rules about screening and landscaping parking lots, if there were no garage. There are strict rules about building compatibility with the surrounding neighborhood, from an architectural and visual perspective, and the floor area of each unit may not exceed 1,500 square feet. Depending on how the interior of the triplex is configured, it would need a front porch or stoop. 

Floor Area

Floor area means the gross floor area of a building as measured along the outside walls of the building and includes each floor level of a building. Floor area is calculated differently in the Old Town (OT) zone than it is in all other zones. These calculations are not proposed to change and are in the current Code.

In the OT zone

Floor area includes:

  • All principal buildings as measured along the outside walls of such buildings and including each finished or unfinished floor level
  • The ground floor of any accessory building larger than 120 square feet plus the portion of any second story having a ceiling height of at least 7½ feet located within such accessory building
  • Basements, if any exterior basement wall is exposed by more than 3 feet above the existing grade at the interior side lot line adjacent to the wall.
  • Roofed porches, balconies and breezeways that are enclosed on more than 2 sides.
  • Carports
  • High-volume spaces (14+ foot ceilings) on the first or second floor are counted at 200%  

Floor area does not include:

  • The first two hundred fifty (250) square feet of a detached accessory building that is behind the primary structure and separated from that structure by at least ten
    (10) feet.
  • Basements, if exterior basement walls are less than 3 feet above the existing grade at the interior side lot line adjacent to the wall

Outside of the OT zone

Floor area includes:

  • All principal buildings as measured along the outside walls of such buildings and including each finished or unfinished floor level

Floor area does not include:

  • Open balconies
  • The first seven hundred twenty (720) square feet of garages or other enclosed automobile parking areas
  • Basements
  • One-half (½) of all storage and display areas for hard goods.

How have parking requirements changed?

The new code includes two changes related to parking: 

  • Parking requirements were reduced for studio, one- and two-bedroom units in multi-unit developments  
  • Height bonus and parking reductions are used to incentivize affordable housing in commercial, higher density residential, and mixed-use zones  

The table below summarizes the updated parking requirements. 

Housing Type Previous Parking Requirements  New Code Requirements  Parking Reduction Incentive for Affordable Housing 
Single-unit dwellings    No change No change
Accessory Dwelling Units  N/A No additional parking required No change

Duplexes and Multi-Unit Dwellings

Studio or 1 Bedroom 1.5 spaces per unit  1 space per unit  0.75 spaces per unit 
2 Bedrooms 1.75 spaces per unit  1.5 spaces per unit  1 space per unit 
3 Bedrooms 2 spaces per unit 

2 spaces per unit (no change) 

1.25 spaces per unit 
4 or More Bedrooms 3 spaces per unit 3 spaces per unit (no change) 1.5 spaces per unit 

How are fees associated with the new product types? Are they intended to tie into the principle home's utilities or will they require new taps/water dedication? Other impact fees? How is parking calculated with these new product types?

Any new dwelling unit (whether an accessory unit, duplex, multifamily unit, etc.) are assessed the City's capital expansion fees, which are based on the size of the unit. Some Accessory Dwelling Units may be eligible to to tie into the principle home's utilities, however, individual sites and units need to be assessed by relevant utilities for eligibility.

ADUs do not require additional parking while all other types of residential units must meet off-street parking requirements which are based on unit type and its number of bedrooms.


With the change in parking requirements will there be more permit required streets?

The parking reductions are targeted at smaller multifamily units (1 & 2 bedroom) and are most relevant to larger new multifamily developments proposed in developing areas of the community and outside areas near CSU/Downtown where on-street parking congestion tends to occur. The Residential Parking Permit Programs (RP3) implemented in recent years is a voluntary programs voted-in by neighbors and can be requested/expanded into additional areas. More information on the RP3 program is available on the Parking Services webpage.

How will parking problems be mitigated?

Parking requirements are calibrated to parking demand based on the type of land-use and size of residential units. If parking concerns arise, the City has programs such as the Residential Parking Permit Program (RP3) to help manage parking space within a neighborhood for residents, businesses and their guests/customers.


What are the requirements for parking spaces?

Each unit, except Accessory Dwelling Units, requires a number of off-street parking spaces based on the number of bedrooms. The LDC proposes several parking reductions compared to current Land Use Code standards. These reductions are for projects providing affordable housing units, which tend to have lower vehicle ownership/parking demand, and new one and two bedroom units in multifamily projects. The new parking standards for multifamily projects without affordable housing units are:

1 bedroom - 1 space (previously: 1.5)
2 bedroom - 1.5 spaces (previously: 1.75)
3 bedroom - 2 spaces (no change)
4+ bedroom - 3 spaces (no change)

What are the property parking requirements for properties  adding accessory houses for all uses?

No additional parking is required for ADUs.

The current parking requirements/models are not correct. The current requirements result in cars spilling into the streets and out to other neighborhoods.  Why reduce what does not work under current code?

Parking standards are calibrated to meet the parking demand for new development on their site based on land-use and activity levels. In addition, most public streets are designed, allow, and are intended to be used for parking. Congested on-street parking tends to be of concern in older parts of the community near Downtown and CSU where development preceeded the automobile and modern ownership rates and parking standards. These areas and any future areas where on-street parking demand becomes an issue are proactively managed through the Residential Parking Permit Program when requested by neighbors.

Did notification and public involvement on development proposals change?

Public involvement continues to be critical to the development review process. The updated code encourages and ensures opportunities for early public involvement while shortening the length of the process for housing projects. All projects must meet the requirements in the code in order to be approved. The types of review processes for new development projects include: 

  • Basic Development Review (BDR) - No public hearing, Staff-level decision  
  • Type 1 - Public hearing, Hearing Officer decision 
  • Type 2 - Neighborhood Meeting and Public Hearing, Planning & Zoning Commission decision 

Housing projects are now subject to a Basic Development Review process in many zone districts. While the process has been streamlined, this is in combination with new building and design standards that are clearer and more predictable for property owners, neighbors, and developers. The new requirements are more clearly defined and less subjective, limiting the amount of discretion City staff have when reviewing projects. 

There have been no changes to public notification processes. The yellow "Development Under Review" signs, mailed notices, “This Week in Development Review” email newsletter, and other notification processes remain the same. Similarly, there are no changes to the current appeal process. If a Basic Development Review decision is appealed, it would trigger a public hearing with the Planning & Zoning Commission, and their decision could also be appealed to City Council.  

What opportunities does the public have to weigh in on development projects?

When a new development project has been submitted to the City for review, a yellow “Development Under Review” sign will be posted on the property. Information about the new project will also be included in the “This Week in Development Review” newsletter, which anyone can subscribe to here: https://www.fcgov.com/developmentreview/weekreview.  

Anyone with questions, concerns or comments on a development project can submit those at any time to devreviewcomments@fcgov.com. This webpage also lists contact information for the City Planner reviewing the project and the applicant: https://www.fcgov.com/developmentreview/proposals/. At least 2 weeks prior to a decision (either a staff-level decision or a public hearing), a notification letter is mailed to all property owners within 800 feet of the project. Public comments are accepted from the time of application submittal up until the date that a decision is issued. 

In the case of Basic Development Review projects, decisions are issued in writing, and notice of that decision is mailed to the applicant, immediately adjacent property owners, and anyone who provided written comments prior to the decision.  

If someone would like to challenge a Basic Development Review decision (either an approval or denial), they may file an appeal within 14 days of the date of the decision. The project would then be forwarded to the Planning & Zoning Commission for a full hearing. The decision of the Planning & Zoning Commission can be subsequently appealed to City Council. The cost of an appeal is $100.  

Please describe the process of appeal for residents

If someone would like to challenge a Basic Development Review decision (either an approval or denial), they may file an appeal within 14 days of the date of the decision. The project would then be forwarded to the Planning & Zoning Commission for a full hearing. The decision of the Planning & Zoning Commission can be subsequently appealed to City Council. For projects that are approved or denied as part of a Type 1/Type 2 public hearing, those decisions can be appealed directly to City Council. 

Why the change of no meetings?

The review processes have been streamlined in combination with new building and design standards that are clearer and more predictable for property owners, neighbors, and developers. It's important to note that all projects, no matter what review type they have, must meet the requirements in the code in order to be approved. Because the new requirements are more clearly defined, less subjectivity and interpretation will be needed in the development review process, which limits the amount of discretion staff will have in reviewing projects.


Just so I understand the change in process: The new code take a City Council appointed planning and zoning board out of the process of development review and gives all of that decision making responsibility to a staff position, the Neighborhood Services director?

When a new development project has been submitted to the City for review, a yellow “Development Under Review” sign will be posted on the property. Information about the new project will also be included in the “This Week in Development Review” newsletter, which anyone can subscribe to here: https://www.fcgov.com/developmentreview/weekreview. Anyone with questions, concerns or comments on a development project can submit those at any time to devreviewcomments@fcgov.com. This webpage also lists contact information for the City Planner reviewing the project and the applicant: https://www.fcgov.com/developmentreview/proposals/. At least 2 weeks prior to a decision (either a staff-level decision or a public hearing), a notification letter is mailed to all property owners within 800 feet of the project. Public comments are accepted from the time of application submittal up until the date that a decision is issued. 

In the case of Basic Development Review projects, decisions are issued in writing by the Community Development & Neighborhood Services Director, without a public hearing. Notice of that decision is mailed to the applicant, immediately adjacent property owners, and anyone who provided written comments prior to the decision.  If someone would like to challenge a Basic Development Review decision (either an approval or denial), they may file an appeal within 14 days of the date of the decision. The project would then be forwarded to the Planning & Zoning Commission for a full hearing. The decision of the Planning & Zoning Commission can be subsequently appealed to City Council.

Is there a fee to appeal a BDR decision?  How much is the fee?

The fee to appeal a BDR decision is $100. 


Does an appeal to a BDR decision go directly to P&Z or first to a Type 1 review?

Appeals of a BDR decisions (and various other administrative decisions) are forwarded to the Planning & Zoning Commission. A Type 1 hearing officer would not review any appeals. 


Why $100 to appeal? "small fee" - not for everyone. Why not require 8 neighbors on a petition instead of a fee?

The appeal fee and criteria for BDR decisions mirrors the City Council appeals process. The intent is to provide consistency in process and requirements for various types of appeals.


Are there any projects that would require a P&Z hearing? I’m a bit confused about what P&Z would do if there are no hearings.

P&Z would continue to hear any multi-phase project (ODP, PUD) - think Montava's overall master plan, 100% residential projects in commercial zones (mixed use projects would be BDR) group homes, and some commercial/mixed use projects (these were not modified in this phase at all)


Who established the five principles and did it include citizen input?

The code changes are based on goals and policies included in the 2019 City Plan, 2021 Housing Strategic Plan, and 2021 Our Climate Future plan. 

The following questions have been grouped together as they pertain to a similar topic:

Hearing Officers

- Who selects the hearing officer?
- How are hearing officers selected and what are qualifications?

For Type 1 hearings, the hearing officer is an external land use attorney contracted by the City. Hearing officers are selected and retained based on their skill in managing hearings, quality and consistency of decisions, and knowledge of land use regulations and processes. For Type 2 hearings, the Planning & Zoning Commission is the decision maker (7 volunteers appointed by City Council).

Neighborhood Meeting/BDR Changes

- Has there been any changes with public inputs do development. Further, any changes on how developments go before a Type 1 and or Type 2?

- But BDR process does not include public, neighborhood meetings.  This removes the voice of the local neighbors from the process.  I know you say there are appeals allowed, but if the project meets code, then neighbor voices will carry no weight or import

- What was the logic or reasoning behind the elimination of the Neighborhood Meeting for the Basic Development Reviews?

Public involvement is a very important piece of the development review process. The intent of the newly adopted code changes is to still encourage early public involvement while shortening the overall length of the process for housing projects, which can sometimes take years to complete. The code has three types of review processes:
•    Basic Development Review (BDR) - No public hearing, Staff-level decision 
•    Type 1 - Public hearing, Hearing Officer decision
•    Type 2 - Neighborhood Meeting and Public Hearing, Planning & Zoning Commission decision

Housing projects will no longer be required to go through a Type 1 or Type 2 hearing in many zone districts. The review processes have been streamlined in combination with new building and design standards that are clearer and more predictable for property owners, neighbors, and developers. It's important to note that all projects, no matter what review type they have, must meet the requirements in the code in order to be approved. Because the new requirements are more clearly defined, less subjectivity and interpretation will be needed in the development review process, which limits the amount of discretion staff will have in reviewing projects.

Notification Radius

- If the only people who are contacted about a potential development must live 800 feet or less away from that potential development, how does that help the diverse populations throughout Fort Collins to give input about the potential development?

- Was the notification distance always 800 ft? That is only 0.15 miles. Development, especially near an over capacity intersetion impacts can spread to a mile in all directions.

The 800-ft mailing radius matches what is currently in the Land Use Code today. That was carried forward to the new code, unchanged. The intent of that radius is to notify nearby property owner who may experience or perceive an impact from the project, either positively or negatively. There are also community-wide notifications of development projects provided through the City’s “This Week in Development Review” email newsletter, and the Coloradoan generally covers major projects as well. Here’s an example of the notice area for a mailing that was sent this week. The 800-ft radius is shown in red, and the area in blue shows how we generally expand the boundary to capture other neighbors within the subdivision, along the same street, etc.

What are Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and what are the code changes related to ADUs?

An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is a separate living space associated with a primary dwelling. There are two types of ADUs: attached (internal to the primary dwelling, such as a basement apartment) and detached (in a separate building, such as a carriage house).   

ADUs are an important housing option for people who might want to live with extended family, have a space for a caretaker, or rent out a unit to supplement their income.  

ADUs were not previously a defined building type in the code. Instead, a “carriage house” was allowed in the three Old Town zones (NCL, NCM, NCB) on lots over 10,000 or 12,000 square feet. In addition to being allowed only on large lots, carriage houses also required a public hearing. In the LMN zone, more than one house could be built on a lot, but the second house was required to have its own utilities because it was treated as a separate primary dwelling. 

The updated code permits ADUs in all residential and mixed-use zones. In some zone districts, attached ADUs may be more feasible than detached ADUs, depending on access for utilities, vehicles, and emergency services.  

Attached ADUs are limited to 45% of the square footage of the primary dwelling, unless they are located below-grade in a basement. Detached ADUs are limited to either 600 sq. ft. or 1000 sq. ft., depending on the size of the primary dwelling.  

Regarding Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), other cities in Colorado that allow ADUs typically have further requirements such as:

* No more than 20% of the parcels within 300 feet of the property may have an ADU
* Maximum of three people may occupy an ADU
* Lot size must be a minimum of 5,000 square feet to have an ADU
* One off-street parking space must be provided for each ADU

Why doesn't the new Land Development Code have similar requirements?

While ADUs are allowed on any lot containing a house, including a house that is used for non-residential purposes, or a duplex, there are realities on each individual lot that will limit where these can be built. 1) Setbacks. These are set on a zone-district basis, but range from 5 to 50 feet in the rear and side of a property. In addition, many properties have easements, landscape plans, or other restrictions on their plats that will dictate stricter setbacks. 2) Limit on the size of an ADU. Again, these are dependent on the individual situation, but do not allow for ADUs to ever exceed 1,000 square feet, or the square footage of an existing basement in the largest cases. This will put some bounds on how many people can live in an ADU. 3) Processing fees. Capital expansion fees can be extensive, on the scale of those of a newly constructed house, or in the tens of thousands of dollars. This will limit the density of ADUs in a neighborhood. 4) U+2. Existing occupancy rules apply to ADUs, just as they would to any other housing unit. This means that 3 unrelated adults, plus the children of any 2 of those adults can live in a unit. 5) Most of the residential neighborhoods in Fort Collins have ample on-street parking. Imagine a scenario where a resident of a Primary House rents out an ADU in the back yard. They can choose to rent to up to 3 unrelated adults. If the parking on their property and near their home becomes an issue, they can choose to rent the ADU out to fewer adults. No need for government intervention. You could imagine a scenario where both the primary home and the ADU are rentals. In this scenario, there could be 6 unrelated adults with cars trying to park without much agency in the matter. If this scenario becomes common and parking becomes an issue, that is the point where the City could step in to make changes in the Land Development Code or take other action like issue parking permits. Our aim is to not over-reach if no parking problem exists in a neighborhood. 

Are there planned STR changes planned for areas that restrict STRs but may now build ADUs?

Not currently. The STR regulations and allowable zones will remain in place.


Can a remodeled shipping container be an ADU?

Any ADU would be required to meet our Building Code requirements. In addition, any ADU would need to have full living amenities, including a kitchen and bathroom that meet Building Codes. In some rare cases, this could possibly happen inside of a shipping container, but it would be a significant challenge. 


Can every property have an ADU? If so, every neighborhood can essentially double in density. How will two structures shoe-horned onto each property change the neighborhood?

ADU size is limited and they may also be within the primary structure.


What would be set back for ADU on any property?

Setbacks will follow any setbacks of your zone district. Individual properties may have legal setbacks beyond what is required by the zone district. Easements may restrict where you acn build on a property. Landscape plans may also restrict where you can build on a property. Please check your plat  and any landscape plans prior to developing your ADU plan. In addition, there is a minimum 5-foot setback between any structures on the property. Building Code will require a 10 foot setback between any buildings on the property, unless they are constructed with fire-rated construction.


Does the ADU go off of the current Utilities and water tap? Meaning there is no additional utilities or water taps needed for the ADU?

Some ADUs may be eligible to tie into the utilities of the Primary Dwelling, however, individual sites and units need to be assessed by relevant utilities for eligibility. 


If you build an ADU on your property does the primary home need to be owner occupied?

No, it does not. 


What are the ADU maximums in OT?

Attached ADUs are limited to 45% of the primary structure.  Detached ADUs are limited to 600 or 1000 sq.ft depending on the size of the primary structure.


Will single family residences that actually have ADUs, such as basement apartments — be regulated? That is, will the apts be brought up to code?

Yes, Building Codes will require attached ADUs to be treated the same way as a duplex, including, but not limited to: 1 hour fire rated separation between units (including walls, floor/ceilings, and 20-minute rated doors), separate/independent heating systems, and minimum requirements for kitchens and bathrooms. Each unit also requires a separate swing-type exit door to the exterior, or a common shared fire-rated vestibule to the exterior. 

What are the particulars that dictate the size of the ADU 600 vs. 1000 Sq. FT.?

The size of an ADU is dictated by several factors, including whether it is attached or detached, the size of the Primary Building, and whether an existing legal building is being modified, vs a new structure is being built. For a detached ADU, if it is new construction, and the Primary Building is up to 1,335 square feet, the ADU can be up to 600 square feet. If a detached ADU is new construction, and the Primary Building is larger than 1,335 square feet, the ADU can be up to 45% of the floor area of the Primary Building, or up to 1,000 square feet, whichever is smaller. If a detached ADU is a modification of an existing legal structure at the time of the adoption of the LDC, the ADU can be up to 800 square feet. If the ADU will be attached to the Primary Building, and it is located above grade, it can be up to 45% of the floor area of the Primary Building . However, keep in mind that in the OT Districts, there is a 2,400 square foot limit on the size of the Primary Building, and an above-grade attached ADU will count towards this limit (if you don't want to do the algebra, that means a maximum attached above-grade ADU size of 744 square feet in OT). If the ADU will be in the basement of the Primary Building, it will be allowed to be the size of the entire basement. If the basement exterior wall is exposed by less than 3 feet above the existing grade, the basement ADU will not count towards the square footage of the home. Please also remember that setbacks apply, including regulations in the OT Districts protecting back yards, and any setbacks that may be unique to your property, including easements. Please check your plat and any landscape plans your property may have for additional setbacks. These setbacks could de facto also restrict the size of an ADU on your property. 

Is it permitted to have a kitchen in an ADU? In the past that was not allowed.

Yes. An ADU is required to have full living amenities, including a kitchen, bathroom, and living space.

What is the difference between a ADU and Cottage House?

An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is a separate living space associated with a primary dwelling. There are two types of ADUs: attached (internal to the primary dwelling, such as a basement apartment) and detached (in a separate building, such as a carriage house).  The term 'cottage house' is sometimes used when referring to similar detached structures. A cottage house or carriage house is a type of ADU. 

Please address 'good actors' i.e. altruistic types vs predatory corporate buying and redevelopment. For example ADU where home and ADU can be rented to separate parties (short or long term)

It is not in the City's pervue to put judgments on the financial or residential decisions of any property owner. That being said, a property owner may rent out any portion of their property, including a case where a Primary Building and an ADU are rented out. Strict restrictions on short-term rental zoning remain. There are discrete boundaries to the areas where short-term rentals are allowed to be not occupied by owners. There are also discrete boundaries to the areas in the city where short-term rentals must be occupied by owners. To learn more about our regulations regarding short-term rentals, please visit: https://www.fcgov.com/shorttermrentals/

In building an ADU the Water and sewer services are supplied by the primary home right?

Some ADUs may be eligible to tie into the utilities of the Primary Dwelling, however, individual sites and units need to be assessed by relevant utilities for eligibility. 

Is there any other impact fees that would need to be paid in building an ADU?

The short answer to this question is, yes. Capital Expansion Fees would be charged to anyone building an ADU on their property. These fees can be extensive, on the scale of those for  a newly constructed house, or in the tens of thousands of dollars. These fees contribute to maintenance and upgrades to public infrastructure, in addition to contributing to the time required by staff to review and inspect all development and building projects. You can learn more about specific fees here: https://www.fcgov.com/developmentreview

Can an ADU be 2 levels? Does the 1,000 sqft max still apply?

The size of an ADU is dictated by several factors, including whether it is attached or detached, the size of the Primary Building, and whether an existing legal building is being modified, vs a new structure is being built.  There are additional height limits on ADUs. A detached ADU that is new construction can be up to 1.5 stories/20'. A modification of an existing legal building can be up to the height of the existing structure. The height of an attached ADU that is at or above grade is dictated by the zone district that it is in. The height of an attached ADU that is in the basement is the height of the existing basement. Maximum floor areas apply regardless of the height.

Could an ADU be 3 levels?

In most cases it could not. The limit on detached ADUs is 1.5 stories/ 28'. The only time an ADU could be 3 levels would be an attached ADU in a zone district that allows 3-level homes. The attached ADU would only be allowed to have the floor area of up to 45% of the floor area of the Primary Building, so it may not be practical, given that it would need stair cases, a bathroom, kitchen, living space, and would be required to meet all Building Codes, including those aimed at stopping the spread of fire through a structure. But in that case, a 3-story ADU would be allowed. 

What is the definition of "affordable housing"?

For a development project to qualify as affordable housing, it must be rented or sold at (or below) certain income thresholds. Affordability level is based on the Area Median Income, or AMI. The current Area Median Income levels for Fort Collins are: 

Number of People/Household  Median (100%)  80% of Median  60% of Median 
1 $75,200  $60,100  $45,120 
2 $85,800  $68,650  $51,540 
3 $96,600  $77,250  $57,960 
4 $107,300  $85,800  $64,380 
5 $115,900  $92,700  $69,540 
6 $124,500  $99,550  $74,700 

For a project to be considered an "affordable housing project" by the City, it must meet the following standards: 

Rental Units:  

  • 10% of units rented at 60% AMI; or  
  • 20% of units rented at 80% AMI  

For Sale:  

  • 10% of units sold at 80% AMI; or  
  • 20% of units sold at 100% AMI 

The units must be guaranteed to be sold or rented at the same affordability level for at least 99 years to qualify as affordable housing. This “affordability term” was changed from the previous minimum of 20 years.  

Will there be any changes to impact fees for affordable housing?

The scope of the Code changes is solely focused on revisions to the actual code language. Impact fee amounts, relief, etc. are not part of this particular effort. That said, the City does regularly revise capital impact fees. Discussions about fee relief for affordable housing would be best shared during the next fee update.

What is AMI currently?

AMI levels for 2022 can be found at this link.

The following questions have been grouped together as they pertain to a similar topic:

Definition of Affordable Housing

- Please specifically define “affordable” as it is used in this discussion
- 2040 10% affordable as the goal, right?. What is the percentage now of affordable housing? please define affordable housing
- What is the definition of affordable housing?

For a development project to qualify as affordable housing, it must be rented or sold at (or below) certain income thresholds. Affordability level is based on the Area Median Income, or AMI.

For a project to be considered an ""affordable housing project"" by the City, it must meet the following standards: 

Rental Units:  
10% of units rented at 60% AMI; or  
20% of units rented at 80% AMI  

For Sale:  
10% of units sold at 80% AMI; or  
20% of units sold at 100% AMI 

The units must be guaranteed to be sold or rented at the same affordability level for at least 99 years to qualify as affordable housing. This “affordability term” was changed from the previous minimum of 20 years.

Will an HOA with single family homes only be able to reject multi family buildings?

No. The new Land Development Code would override HOA covenants to the extent that they limit the creation of new housing units, in line with the code. This is similar to the way the code overrides HOAs as it relates to renewable energy generation (e.g., solar panels), xeriscape landscaping and water conservation, and other community-wide priorities. It may not override covenants that are unrelated to adopted community policies, so if there are specific covenants in question, an attorney evaluation might be necessary.

The following questions have been grouped together as they pertain to a similar topic:

HOAs and Short Term Rentals

- I'm on the board of an HOA: what level of input will an HOA have in terms of quality or even acceptance of an ADU in our neighborhood? How will ADU's not become a covert airbnb?

- FYI, Short rentals are not allowed in some HOA's. What happens here. I live in Stonehenge HOA. Our HOA don't allow short term rentals like Air BnB.

The STR regulations and allowable zones do not change.

HOA Covenants

- What is the legal basis that allows the land use code to supersede HOA covenants date back to 1969?

- If HOA covenants are superseded what restrictions are allowed by HOAs?

- If an existing, built-out HOA has more restrictive requirements (e.g., does not allow ADUs), are these negated by the Land Development Code?  If so, will new ADU building decisions be made exclusively by City Staff? Will HOAs still be able to enforce architectural control requirements and review processes?

- How will the code  work with HOA's who may have more restrictive covenants that may be in conflict with the new code?

- How can the City with the new code not take into account the governing documents of existing HOA"S especially when it comes to ADU's?

- For a neighborhood in an Urban Estate District currently built out with single family homes, am I understanding correctly that a home owner could choose, without approval from the HOA, to build a duplex on their property with approval from the city?

The new Land Development Code would override HOA covenants to the extent that they limit the creation of new housing units, in line with the code. This is similar to the way the code overrides HOAs as it relates to renewable energy generation (e.g., solar panels), xeriscape landscaping and water conservation, and other community-wide priorities. It may not override covenants that are unrelated to adopted community policies, so if there are specific covenants in question, an attorney evaluation might be necessary. Here’s the specific language in the code:

"1.3.3 CONFLICTS WITH PRIVATE HOUSING COVENANTS
No person shall create, cause to be created, enforce or seek to enforce any provision contained in any contract or restrictive covenant that has the effect of prohibiting or limiting the City’s regulations to implement its
housing policies, as supported by the Housing Strategic Plan, including but not limited to provisions that are in conflict with provisions in this Code for increased density, height and occupancy."

Will there be a new water gas or electric tap required for an axillary dwelling what about raw water requirement.

Some ADUs may be eligible to tie into the utilities of the Primary Dwelling, however, individual sites and units need to be assessed by relevant utilities for eligibility. 

Regarding traffic, infrastructure and even grocery store availiblility, does the City have a plan to address the growth it is encouraging?

The changes to our Land Development Code will not add to or subtract from population growth projections in any meaningful way- those are things that happen on a regional, state, national, and even global scale. In terms of grocery stores, the City doesn't typically recruit specific businesses, but we do provide the zoning districts that meet the requirements grocery stores need in order to populate the City in order to meet their market demands. This LDC allows for (but importantly, does not dictate) increased housing density in all existing neighborhoods. Staff in Planning, Building, Utilities, and Transportation are hard at work to bring you things like 15-minute cities, where the destinations you need to get to are within a 15 minute walk or bike ride, and significant upgrades to bike infrastructure across the map. 


With the increase in density what consideration has been given to the capacity of the schools to handle the increased population?

The Poudre School District is and has been very well-managed, and, as always, plans for population growth on decadal time scales. The changes to our Land Development Code will not add or subtract from population growth projections in any meaningful way- those are things that happen on a regional, state, national, and even global scale. The changes in the LDC simply allow our city to accommodate anticipated growth in a way that maintains the qualities and character our citizens desire, as growth happens.

The following questions have been grouped together as they pertain to a similar topic:

Growth and Infrastructure

- What is the estimate of costs to upgrade Water & Sewer Pipelines and Improved systems to increased Gird Density? Is the cost of these sufficient improvements  then paid for by all City Residents?
can our sewage systems handle extra ADUs in every neighborhood?

- Has the city considered how these additional housing units will affect the availibility of water and electricity, and how these utility issues affect the City of Fort Collins’ Climate Action Plan?

- A question I have come across a lot is what the potential costs of higher density might be. Specifically, can you speak to how higher density might affect the need to build new utilities and what kind of stress might create on our current water and electricity capacity.

- Has a study been performed to understand the impact the new code will have on current resources: specifically water  and also: parking, street congestion and other infrastructure

- The opposition group states that the 53% in density that the code would enable would require substantial increase in the city's sewer and water infrastructure due to higher demands on capacity. And that the cost to replace the under-capacity sewers, other infrastructure elements that are impacted by the density increase would be born by the public in general, vs. that of any individual developer, which has to do only site-specific triggered capacity augmentation/improvements.  Is this the case and if so, how will this be handled?

- Exactly how much will all of this cost? Without that information you have to stop and get us the costs of all of of the new infrastructure. I believe it's over one billion dollars and even then how do we get more electricity and water and with all of the streets being torn up where do people park? Please tell us how we get new water and wastewater plants and either expand Rawhide or build another coal fired high pollution plants. if you don't have the answers then stop now and find that out as a responsible way to ask us to be ok with this.

The changes to our Land Development Code will not add or subtract from population growth projections in any meaningful way- those are things that happen on a regional, state, national, and even global scale. The changes in the LDC simply allow our city to accommodate anticipated growth in a way that maintains the qualities and character our citizens desire, as growth happens.

The changes allow for, but importantly, do not dictate increased housing density in all existing neighborhoods. If it were to be fully built out, the changes to the LDC would allow for up to 53% increase in density. If this happens at a moderate pace, where a landowner decides to build an ADU for a family member in the backyard, or a homeowner moves and the new owner wants to increase their income potential on the property, it is important to note that these increases in density will probably happen on the decadal time scale. It is also important to note that the LDC is a living document, as the LUC has been for the past 25 years. We anticipate modifications to the LDC annually at the very least, and easily in response to problems that arise as the changes in the code roll out.

One of the main objectives to this update of the LDC was to allow our landowners to meet projected housing needs, even beyond our current housing crisis, and to address goals set forth in the Climate Action Plan. As you may know, one of the most important and influential ways land development and land use can work to decrease carbon emissions is to increase the density of development. This LDC allows for (but importantly, does not dictate) increased housing density in all existing neighborhoods. Staff in Planning, Building, Utilities, and Transportation are hard at work to bring you things like 15-minute cities, where the destinations you need to get to are within a 15 minute walk or bike ride, and significant upgrades to bike infrastructure across the map. The changes in the LDC break down legislative and bureaucratic barriers to support and allow changes like these to happen. 

In terms of parking, most of the residential neighborhoods in Fort Collins have ample street parking. Adding an ADU on a property, given U+2 regulations, could add up to a maximum 3 unrelated adults to a property; possibly up to 3 cars. If the availability of street parking were ever to become an issue, it is something the City is happy to address at that time. Our aim is to not over-reach if no parking problem currently exists in a neighborhood. 

The City of Fort Collins' Utilities Department is and has been very well-managed and, as always, plans for replacing aging equipment and projected population growth on decadal time scales. 

In terms of costs of upgrading infrastructure, the City, as always, asks developers to pay. For example, anyone who wants to put an ADU on their property will be asked to pay substantial Capital Expansion Fees that depend on the specifics of the project. Those fees are calculated and updated on an annual basis and are intended to cover any utility upgrades, utility planning over the long-term, and the time used by City staff to review and inspect the associated development and building plans. 

This is the standard way development is paid for in the City of Fort Collins, and many other municipalities. You can learn more about how our partners in Water plan for the future on their website. You can learn more about the work our partners in Light & Power do so on their website. And, you can learn more about the work our partners in Wastewater do on their website.

Several of the City's recent long range planning documents recommended changes to the old LUC to better meet the City's goals. These plans include:

  • City Plan (2019), the City's comprehensive plan for the next 10-20 years;
  • Housing Strategic Plan (2021), the plan to promote the City's vision that everyone in Fort Collins can have healthy, stable housing they can afford;
  • Our Climate Future (2021), a comprehensive plan to simultaneously address climate, energy and waste goals while improving our community’s equity and resilience; and the
  • Transportation Master Plan (2019).

The revised LUC is designed to complement the City's existing planning documents.

How does this project relate to the community's transportation and climate action goals?

Land use regulations should be aligned with the needs of the community. The updated code supports the City’s 2019 Transit Master Plan by increasing connections between housing and safe, affordable, efficient and convenient transportation options for people of all ages and abilities. Increased housing capacity along key corridors also supports the efficient operation of current and future transit lines.

The updated code helps reduce our environmental footprint and meet the goals set in the City’s Our Climate Future Plan by fostering development in a manner where jobs, leisure activities, daily needs, and transportation options are near one another.

The link between land use and transportation is especially important. Transportation contributes about 25% to our community’s greenhouse gas emissions, and that is expected to increase to 45% by 2030. Increased housing choices and strategic development (or redevelopment) can reduce vehicle miles traveled, enable alternative transportation options, and support the buildout of the City’s future transit network. 

Smaller homes generally use less electricity, and the code changes encourage greater housing options at smaller scales. This helps achieve electrification objectives and reach our community’s 100% renewable energy goals. Lastly, these factors contribute to enhanced equity in our community by reducing costs associated with purchasing or renting housing, utilities and access to transportation. 

Does this code update change where short-term rentals are allowed in the city?

No. The restrictions on where and how a property can be used as a short-term rental (e.g., AirBnB, VRBO) have not changed with the new code.  

learn more about short-term rentals

Does this code update change the U+2 occupancy limits?

No. The code update does not include any changes related to occupancy limits or the approval process for extra-occupancy houses. There is a separate project currently underway to explore potential changes to occupancy regulations and rental registration/licensing programs.

Learn more about U+2

How does the Land Use Code relate to Proposition 123, which was recently approved by Colorado voters?

Colorado Proposition 123 was approved by voters in November 2022. This proposition dedicates a portion of income tax revenue to fund housing projects, including "affordable housing financing programs that will reduce rents, purchase land for affordable housing development, build assets for renters, support affordable homeownership, serve persons experiencing homelessness, and support local planning capacity.

To access funds created by Proposition 123, municipalities need to commit to increasing their affordable housing stock by 3% per year and creating a “fast track” process to approve affordable housing developments within 90 days. 

 The new LDC helps Fort Collins meet the requirements of Proposition 123 by: 

  • Creating capacity for more than 4,500 affordable homes, a nearly 200% increase in affordable housing stock 
  • Allowing a faster review process for housing developments through a Basic Development Review (BDR) process 
  • Increasing incentives like reduced parking, additional height, or more density for affordable housing to encourage the development of more deed-restricted units 
  • Requiring 99 years of affordability so multiple generations can benefit from affordable, stable housing 

Share Your Thoughts With Us#

Click the link below to fill out our Land Use Code comment card. Staff will be using community feedback to craft recommendations on updates to the City's Land Use Code to City Council in the fall.

Share Your Feedback