Frequently Asked Questions#
The City’s Land Use Code (LUC) regulates zoning, land use, building design, and more. This page contains frequently asked questions about the updated LUC based on inquiries received to date. Have a question that is not answered here? Fill out the form at the bottom of the page, and a member of the project team will contact you to provide more information. For more information about what has (and has not) changed in the updated LUC, please visit fcgov.com/housing/lucupdates.
FAQs by Topic (Alphabetical)#
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 LUC. 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 LUC 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. Homeowners' Associations (HOAs) may also have restrictions on whether ADUs can be internal or detached.
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.
Other cities in Colorado that allow ADUs typically have further requirements such as:
* 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
What requirements does the updated LUC include?
The updated LUC has several requirements for ADUs including:
- ADUs must meet the minimum lot size in the Zone district (typically 4,500-6,000 sq. feet, depending on the zone)
- ADUs must provide one off-street parking space; tandem spaces (where one car is parked behind another) may count toward the required parking
- A property with an ADU must have a designated resident manager if the owner does not live on-site
- New ADUs (as of LUC adoption) may not be used as Short Term Rentals
- City occupancy regulations (3 unrelated) apply to all dwelling units, including ADUs
While ADUs are allowed on any residential or mixed-use lot containing a primary dwelling, there are realities on each individual lot that will limit where these can be built.
- 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.
- ADU Size Limits. 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.
- 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.
- Occupancy (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.
Are there planned Short Term Rental (STR) changes planned for areas that restrict STRs but may now build ADUs?
A new ADU may not be used as a Short Term Rental (STR). There were no other changes to current STR regulations or zones in which STRs are permitted.
Can a remodeled shipping container be an ADU?
Any ADU must meet all applicable Building Code requirements. In addition, any ADU must have full living amenities, including a kitchen and bathroom that meet Building Codes. This could possibly happen inside of a shipping container, but designing an ADU from a shipping container could be challenging.
Can every property have an ADU?
Any residential or mixed-use lot that includes a primary dwelling may have an internal or detached ADU. The height and size of detached ADUs is limited to a maximum of 24-28 feet (15 feet if there is no alley access) in height and 45% of the primary dwelling or 1,000 square feet in size, whichever is smaller. No lot may have more than one ADU.
What are the required set back for an ADU?
Setbacks will follow the setbacks of your zone district. Individual properties may have legal setbacks beyond what is required by the zone district. Easements may restrict where you can 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 working on 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.
If you build an ADU on your property does the primary home need to be owner occupied?
No, it does not. However, if the property is not owner-occupied (either in the primary dwelling or the ADU), a resident manager must be designated for the property.
What are the ADU maximums in the OT Zone?
Attached ADUs are limited to 45% of the primary structure. Detached ADUs are limited to 600 or 1000 sq. feet depending on the size of the primary structure.
Will single family residences that actually have ADUs, such as basement apartments — be regulated? Will existing basement apartments be brought up to code?
Yes, Building Codes 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, or a new structure is being built.
- If a primary dwelling is 1,335 sq. feet or smaller in size, a new-construction detached ADU can be up to 600 sq.e feet.
- If a primary dwelling is larger than 1,335 sq. 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 updated LUC, the ADU can be up to 800 square feet.
- If the ADU will be attached to the primary building, and is located above grade, it can be up to 45% of the floor area of the primary building. (Note: 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. That means a maximum attached above-grade ADU size of 744 square feet in the OT Zone).
- 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 also restrict the size of an ADU on your property.
Is it permitted to have a kitchen in an ADU?
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 whether ADUs can be rented to separate parties, either short- or long-term.
It is not in the City's purview to regulate the financial or residential decisions of any property owner. A property owner may rent out any portion of their property, including a case where a Primary Building and an ADU are rented out.
If the owner of a property does not reside on-site, a resident manager must be designated for the property. The resident manager must have only one primary residence (on the property) and must reside on the property for a minimum of 9 months of the calendar year.
New ADUs may not be used as Short Term Rentals (STRs). To learn more about regulations regarding short-term rentals, please visit: https://www.fcgov.com/shorttermrentals/
Does the ADU use the existing utilities and water tap from the primary dwelling?
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.
Are there any other impact fees that need to be paid in building an ADU?
The short answer to this question is, yes. Capital Expansion Fees will 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 stories? Does the 1,000 sqft max still apply?
The only situation in which an ADU could be 2 stories is if an attached, above-grade ADU is built in a 2-story primary building. Otherwise, no. The maximum height of an ADU is 1.5 stories, or 28 feet in height. In the OT Zone, the maximum height of an ADU is 24 feet or as tall as the primary building, whichever is less.
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 or a new structure is being built:
- A detached ADU that is new construction can be up to 1.5 stories or 28 feet (24 feet in the OT Zone) in height if there is alley access to the ADU. Without an alley, height is limited to 15 feet.
- An ADU that is 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 may not be taller than the primary dwelling.
- 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 of an ADU.
Could an ADU be 3 stories?
The only situation in which an ADU could be 3 stories is if an attached, above-grade ADU is built in a 3-story primary building. Otherwise, no.
In the case of a 3-story primary building, an above-grade ADU is limited to 45% of the floor area of the primary building. It may not be practical to build a 3-story attached ADU because of the limited floor area - the ADU would require multiple staircases, 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.
What is the definition of "affordable housing"?
For a project to be considered an "affordable housing project" by the City, it must meet the following standards:
- 10% of units rented at 60% AMI; or
- 20% of units rented at 80% AMI
- 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 60 years to qualify as affordable housing. This “affordability term” was changed from the previous minimum of 20 years.
Affordability level is based on the Area Median Income, or AMI. The current Area Median Income levels for Fort Collins (2023) are:
Number of People/Household Median (100%) 80% of Median 60% of Median1$79,600$63,600$47,6602$90,900$72,700$54,5403$102,300$81,800$61,3804$113,600$90,850$68,1605$122,700$98,150$73,6206$131,800$105,400$79,0807$140,900$112,700$84,5408$150,000$119,950$90,000
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.
How is Floor Area measured?
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 have not changed from the 1997 Land Use Code and have been brought forward into the updated LUC.
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.
- 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
- 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
- One-half (½) of all storage and display areas for hard goods.
What level of input will an HOA have in terms of quality or acceptance of an ADU in the neighborhood? What about HOAs ability to prohibit short-term rentals (STR)?
The STR regulations and allowable zones do not change. New Accessory Dwelling Units will not be allowed to operate as Short Term Rentals. Additionally, an HOA may continue an existing covenant or create a new covenant to prohibit Short Term Rental in any building.
The updated LUC created a new section (1.3.3) that addresses conflicts with Private Housing Covenants (HOAs). This section acknowledges that an HOA can continue to regulate aesthetics, site placement, window placement, height and materials. The new section also limits the HOA from prohibiting an ADU being built and a property being subdivided to the zone district standards. This is similar to the way the code prevents HOAs from restricting renewable energy generation (e.g., solar panels), xeriscape landscaping and water conservation, and other community-wide priorities. 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 prohibits or has the effect of prohibiting the number and/or type of dwelling units permitted on a lot when such number and/or type of dwelling unit(s) would otherwise be permitted by the City’s zoning regulations. A Homeowner’s Association may enforce private covenants which reasonably regulate external aesthetics including, but not limited to, site placement/setbacks, color, window placement, height, and materials with the intent of furthering compatibility with the existing neighborhood.
No person shall create, cause to be created, enforce or seek to enforce any provision contained in any contract or restrictive covenant that prohibits or has the effect of prohibiting subdivision of property when such subdivision would otherwise be permitted by the City’s zoning regulations.
How much will these changes impact density and population growth?
The changes to the Land Use 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 LUC simply allow our city to accommodate anticipated growth in a way that maintains the qualities and character of the community as growth happens.
The changes allow for, but do not dictate or require, increased housing density. If all residential properties were to be fully built out, the changes to the LDC would allow for up to 52% increase in housing capacity. However, this capacity is not spread equally throughout the city:
- 6% of projected capacity is located in residential zones (lower-density, residential-only zones, such as Residential, Low-Density (RL), Neighborhood Conservation Districts (NCL, NCM), and Urban Estate (UE))
- 23% of projected capacity is located in commercial zones (a mix of commercial zone districts, including Community Commercial (CC), General Commercial (CG), etc.)
- 71% of projected capacity is located in mixed-use zones (often commercial and residential mixes, either stacked as a single building or within a larger development, including Low-Density Mixed Use (LMN) and Medium Density Mixed Use (MMN))
It is also important to note that changes to neighborhoods typically happen slowly over decades. In addition, the LUC is a living document. Staff anticipates modifications to the LUC annually at the very least to address any issues, inconsistencies, or emerging community needs.
Will there be a new water gas or electric tap required for an ADU? What about a 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 availability, does the City have a plan to address growth?
The changes in the updated LUC 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 the LUC does create land use regulations that permit grocery stores in specific Zone Districts in order to meet community needs. This LUC update allows for (but importantly, does not dictate) increased housing supply and housing choices throughout the City in ways that are appropriate for the existing context.
With potential increases 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 plans for population growth on 10+ year time scales. The changes to the LUC 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 LUC simply allow our city to accommodate anticipated growth in a way that maintains the qualities and character our citizens desire, as growth happens.
What are the potential costs of higher density? 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, stormwater, electricity, and other infrastructure capacity?
The City of Fort Collins' Utilities Department is and has been very well-managed and, as always, plans for replacing aging equipment and accommodating projected population growth on 10+ year time scales.
As development occurs, upgrades to infrastructure or additional infrastructure capacity is sometimes required. Every proposed project must meet the City's Adequate Public Facilities (APF) requirements in the Land Use Code, which means that development can not be approved unless there is adequate infrastructure in place to serve that development. The City requires developers to pay for upgrades or improvements that are needed as a result of development. For example, anyone who wants to put an ADU on their property will be asked to pay 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 on their website. And, you can learn more about the work our partners in Wastewater do on their website.
Does this code update change the current occupancy limits (U+2 or three unrelated)?
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. More information about occupancy regulations is available on the Neighborhood Services webpage.
Does this code rezone the entire city? Does it rezone Old Town?
No. Zoning designations and mapped boundaries of zone districts did not change for any properties in the city. The types of housing permitted and specific development standards have changed for some zone districts, and the names of 3 zone districts were changed to consolidate repetitive standards into one overall Old Town (OT) Zone with subdistricts:
- Neighborhood Conservation, Low Density (NCL) was renamed to Old Town-A (OT-A)
- Neighborhood Conservation, Medium Density (NCM) was renamed to Old Town-B (OT-B)
- Neighborhood Conservation, Buffer (NCB) was renamed to Old Town-C (OT-C)
What is the OT Zone?
To consolidate repetitive standards for the Old Town neighborhoods, Code requirements that apply in all three "Old Town" zones have been consolidated into one Old Town Zone (OT). Three subdistricts contain requirements that are specific to one subdistrict. Accordingly, the Neighborhood Conservation, Low Density (NCL) Zone has been renamed to Old Town-A (OT-A), the Neighborhood Conservation, Medium Density Zone (NCM) has been renamed to Old Town-B (OT-B), and the Neighborhood Conservation, Buffer Zone (NCB) has been renamed to Old Town-C (OT-C).
Does the 2,400 sq. feet floor area maximum in the OT Zone apply to just new houses, or to remodels and additions?
Single-unit, detached houses in the OT Zone are limited to 2,400 sq. feet in floor area. This limit also applies to remodels and additions. This maximum house size only applies to houses in the OT-A, OT-B, and OT-C Zone Districts.
Does the 2,400 sq. feet floor area maximum in the OT Zone apply to total square feet or just above-ground floor area?
In the OT zones, basements are only counted if the basement walls are 3 feet above existing grade. In that situation, basement floor area does count. Otherwise, basement floor area does not count toward the 2,400 sq. foot floor area maximum.
Is it possible to split an existing Old Town lot that is 8,400 sq. feet into two parcels of 3,800 sq. feet with an existing home and 4,500 sq. feet on which a new home would be built?
No. In the OT zone, the minimum lot size is 4500 sq. feet.
What is the process and difficulty of an Old Town lot owner subdividing a large lot like 9-10,000 sq. feet into two lots and then building a six unit apartment on each lot? is that possible?
In short, no. Two six-unit apartment buildings would not be possible in this scenario.
Splitting one lot into two is a process called a Minor Subdivision Plat. You can read about the requirements for the process on the Planning & Development Review website. You can read about the associated fees here.
- OT-A: A six-unit apartment building would not be allowed in the OT-A Zone District. The OT-A only allows apartment buildings or rowhouses with a maximum 3 units, and only if the lot is 6,000 sq. feet or larger and one unit is deed-restricted affordable housing. In the scenario above, the lot would need to be 10,500 sq. feet minimum before subdivision. One 6,000 sq. foot lot could potentially have a three-unit building on it, and the remaining 4,500 sq. foot lot could have 2 dwellings (duplex or house + ADU).
- OT-B: A six-unit apartment building would only be allowed in the OT-B district if the lot is 6,000 sq. feet or larger and one of the units is deed-restricted affordable housing and the project integrates the existing building. In the scenario above, the lot would need to be 10,500 sq. feet minimum before subdivision. One 6,000 sq. foot lot could potentially have a six-unit building on it, and the remaining 4,500 sq. foot lot could have 3 dwellings (duplex + ADU or triplex).
- OT-C: A six-unit apartment building would only be allowed in the OT-C district if the lot is 6,750 sq. feet or larger. In the scenario above, the lot would need to be 11,250 sq. feet minimum before subdivision. One 6,750 sq. foot lot could potentially have a six-unit building on it, and the remaining 4,500 sq. foot lot could have 3 dwellings (duplex + ADU or triplex).
Aside from fees, lot size, affordable housing requirements, and requirements to integrate existing buildings, there are several other considerations that could make building a 6-unit building infeasible:
- Geometry of the lot and setbacks. All OT subdstricts 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.
- Rear lot coverage limits. OT subdistricts have a distinct “backyard protection” provision: 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.
- Off-street parking requirements. Off-street parking requirements could restrict the size of an apartment building. Depending on how many bedrooms were in each unit, 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.
- Required step backs. 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.
How have parking requirements changed?
The updated Land Use Code includes three changes related to parking:
- Parking requirements are reduced for studio, one- and two-bedroom units in multi-unit developments
- Parking reductions are used to incentivize affordable housing for affordable developments with 7 or more dwelling units in commercial, higher density residential, and mixed-use zones
- Parking is required for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)
The table below summarizes the updated parking requirements.
Single-Unit Dwellings and ADUs
Housing Type Previous Parking Requirements New Code Requirements Parking Reduction Incentive for Affordable Housing Single-unit dwellings 1-2 off-street spaces No change N/A Accessory Dwelling Units 1 off-street space 1 off-street space, tandem spaces may count N/A
Duplexes and Multi-Unit Dwellings
Number of Bedrooms Previous Parking Requirements New Code Requirements Parking Reduction Incentive for Affordable Housing (7+ units only) 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
With the change in parking requirements will there be more permit required streets?
Parking changes in the updated LUC are targeted at smaller units in multi-unit developments (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 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 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 (RP3) when requested by neighbors.
How does the updated 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 updated LUC 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 60 years of affordability so multiple generations can benefit from affordable, stable housing
Did notification and public involvement on development proposals change?
Public involvement continues to be critical to the development review process, and there have been no changes to notification requirements or public involvement opportunities. As in the 1997 Land Use Code, 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
The type of review for housing developments has not changed, except in the case of deed-restricted affordable housing projects. Affordable projects will now be reviewed under Basic Development Review (BDR) to streamline the review process and ensure Fort Collins is able to meet the 90-day "fast track" approval process for affordable housing as required under Proposition 123. This change helps ensure that Fort Collins remains eligible for affordable housing funding through Proposition 123.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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 is then forwarded to the Planning & Zoning Commission for a full hearing. The decision of the Planning & Zoning Commission can be subsequently appealed to City Council. Projects that are approved or denied as part of a Type 1 or Type 2 public hearing can be appealed directly to City Council.
Is there a fee to appeal a development review decision? How much is the fee?
The fee to appeal a development review decision is $100. The appeal fee and criteria mirrors the City Council appeals process. The intent is to provide consistency in process and requirements for various types of appeals.
How are hearing officers selected and what are their 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. The Planning & Zoning Commission is composed of 7 volunteers who are appointed by City Council.
Was the notification distance always 800 feet?
The 800-ft mailing radius matches what is in the 1997 Land Use Code and has not changed. The intent of that required radius is to notify nearby property owners 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.
Several of the City's recent long range planning documents recommended changes to the 1997 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;
- Transportation Master Plan (2019), which addresses the City's transportation and transit system for the next 10-20 years;
- Housing Strategic Plan (2021), which outlines strategies to address the community's housing challenges and create a future where everyone in Fort Collins has 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
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 Transportation and 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 LUC 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 (STRs) 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. More information about STR regulations is available on the Short Term Rentals webpage.
I Have Questions!#
If you still have questions, please fill out the form below to let us know! A member of the project team will be in touch to provide more information, and this FAQ page will be regularly updated with additional questions as we receive them.