RetoolCOS - Zoning Ordinance Update

Planning Phase

Open House Postponed

The RetoolCOS Public Open House scheduled for October 6 has been postponed, but will be held at a later date. RetoolCOS schedule changes will be posted as they are finalized.

About the Project

After a two-year community-wide process, the Colorado Springs City Council approved PlanCOS—our community’s Comprehensive PlanA comprehensive plan is a guiding document that provides a framework for city policies and priorities regarding the physical development of the city. It is a long-range vision of what we want our city to become and is a tool for making decisions about how that vision should be achieved. It outlines strategic steps to make the vision a reality and provides targeted and strategic planning of the physical development of the city. for the physical development of Colorado Springs—in January 2019. Focused around six themes, PlanCOS establishes the City’s land-use vision and directs how we will accommodate future growth and change while building upon the strengths of our existing communities.

For PlanCOS to come to life, the next step is to establish technical (regulatory) provisions for implementation RetoolCOS will revise the Zoning and Subdivision Ordinance, Chapter 7 of City Code, which has not been comprehensively updated since the late 1990s, with the goal of establishing a new, modern and more user-friendly Unified Development Code (UDC). The zoning and subdivision ordinance governs how property owners can use their land—and including regulations such as building height, setbacks between properties and rights-of-ways, what uses are permitted, and how many parking spaces must be provided for various development types. The zoning and subdivision ordinance also describes the procedures for subdividing property or undertaking a larger development project.

Project Plan 

The Project Plan analyses the strengths and weaknesses of the current Chapter 7 - Zoning & Subdivision Ordinance, and provides Clarion’s recommendations for amendments based on stakeholder interviews and PlanCOS.  The Project Plan will be used as a general guide during the re-write drafting process.  It is important to note that this document does not reflect Staff recommendations or final changes to Chapter 7.  Concepts will evolve throughout the processes based on input from the steering committees, public, and the Planning Commission and City Council.

View project plan

 The public will have the opportunity at key points in the process to learn about the proposed technical updates and how they support PlanCOS, as well as provide input, prior to final adoption by City Council.

    Project Scope                  

    In addition to the implementation of PlanCOS through zoning and subdivision standards…

    RetoolCOS will focus on:           

    RetoolCOS will NOT focus on:

    • Review of dimensional standards, zoning classifications, and use tables
    • Site design standards
    • MultimodalIncluding more than one mode of transportation. For example, a facility that accommodates lanes for motorized vehicles, bike lanes, sidewalks, and transit stops. transportation options
    • Modifying restrictive zoning districts to allow for more creative development projects to would enhance neighborhoods
    • Parking ratios
    • Landscape standards
    • Flexibility for mixed-use developmentDevelopment that integrates two or more land uses, such as residential, commercial, and office, with a strong pedestrian orientation. and land use patterns
    • Inclusion of user-friendly graphics to illustrate regulations and make the Code more intuitive
    • Building and construction codes
    • Sign regulations
    • Parkland and school land dedication
    • Impact fees
    • Standards for fiscal impact analyses
    • Short-term rentals
    • Accessory dwelling units
    • Wireless communication facilities/small cell telecommunication facilities

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is the zoning and subdivision ordinance?

    The zoning and subdivision ordinance is the part of the City Code that governs land use, growth, and development. Like most zoning and subdivision ordinances, it divides the City into different zoning districts. Each zoning district has its own rules and regulations that determine how much buffering and what kind of landscaping is required between properties, the maximum height and size of buildings, where they can be located on a property, and how they can be used.   It regulates how property can be subdivided, and sets requirements for new residential and commercial subdivisions such as the width of streets, the type of drainage and stormwater facilities needed, and minimum lot size. The ordinance also establishes a set of procedures for applying to subdivide land, for rezoning properties, and allowing different uses on properties.

    Why does the zoning and subdivision ordinance need to be updated?

    The zoning and subdivision ordinance has not been comprehensively updated since the 1990s. While City Council has approved multiple changes to the ordinance since then, there are inconsistencies throughout the text which make it difficult to use. It lacks some of the features of more modern codes such as a logical and intuitive organization, useful illustrations, cross-references, and consistent review procedures. All of these features, lacking in the current ordinance, make development more predictable and understandable. In addition, the ordinance does not support the type of development advocated by the community during the preparation and adoption of PlanCOS.

    As one example, Goal UP-4 of PlanCOS calls for developing “active, unique, and connected centers and corridors” that incorporate higher levels of design for both private and public space. However, the zoning and subdivision ordinance does not allow this type of development throughout most of the City. Most zoning districts require traditional suburban style development with low buildings setback from the road, often fronted by garages, and make it difficult or impossible to do high-quality infillDevelopment of vacant land within previously built areas. These areas are already served by public infrastructures, such as transportation and utilities. Parks and open space are also considered infill, since they are permanent uses for vacant parcels. development that supports this goal from PlanCOS.

    What will be the end result of RetoolCOS?

    The goal of this project is to develop a new, modern Unified Development Code (UDC) that is adopted by City Council and implemented by City staff.  This UDC will improve the land development regulations for everyone—City residents, property owners, developers, and City staff. This updated code will be easier to use and understand, include procedures for efficient and effective administration of land-use regulations, provide improved standards that help the City achieve high-quality infill and redevelopment, and fully support multimodal transportation. The new UDC will allow the City to implement the vision established in PlanCOS.

    What is the timeline for RetoolCOS?

    The RetoolCOS project was initiated in late 2019. The new UDC is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2021. A detailed schedule (last updated 01/24/20) of meetings, events, and activities is available here.

    About the Process

    The RetoolCOS project is organized into five distinct phases, as illustrated below. Drafting and review of the Unified Development Code (UDC) will occur in three installments: zoning districts and permitted uses, development and design standards, and review and approval procedures. During Phase 2, opportunities for community and stakeholder input will be provided in conjunction with each of these draft UDC Modules. Additional input opportunities will be provided when a consolidated public draft is released during Phase 3, and again as part of the adoption process.

    The new UDC will begin to take shape over the coming months, and is anticipated for adoption in the Spring of 2021.

    Project Management and Advisory Groups

    The Planning and Community Development Department is managing RetoolCOS, assisted by Clarion Associates, a national land-use consulting firm, an Advisory Committee, and a Technical Committee. The Advisory Committee is comprised of elected and community representatives including City Council members, HBA (Housing & Building Association) representation, and CONO (Council of Neighborhood Organizations). The Technical Committee is made up of internal City Staff members who are involved in the development review process. 

    Advisory Committee Members:

    •          Jason Alwine – Matrix Design
    •          Andrea Barlow – NES
    •          Kyle Campbell – HBA (Housing & Building Association)
    •          Max Cupp – CONO (Council of Neighborhood Organizations)
    •          Jan Doran – Citizen Representative
    •          Alison Eubanks – City Planning Commission
    •          Jill Gaebler – City Council
    •          David Geislinger – City Council
    •          Todd Goodman – JE Dunn Construction
    •          Scott Hente – City Planning Commission
    •          Amy Kelley – USAFA
    •          George Nehme – Pikes Peak Association of Realtors
    •          Laura Nelson – Apartment Association of Southern Colorado
    •          Henry Reitwiesner – AIA (American Institute of Architects)
    •          Mike Shafer – Peterson Air Force Base
    •          Robert Shonkwiler – Citizen Representative
    •          Tim Siebert – Nor’wood
    •          Clarissa Thomas – Pikes Peak Association of Realtors
    •          Kevin Walker – HBA (Housing & Building Association)

    Stay Involved

    Upcoming Events

    There will be numerous opportunities for community and stakeholder input as part of the RetoolCOS project. An overview of these opportunities is provided in the Public Participation Plan. A comprehensive list of meeting dates and times is provided in the RetoolCOS Schedule. Information about upcoming public meetings and events will be added below as it becomes available.

    Past Events

    Vitual Meeting Module #1 (May 5, 2020)

    Meeting documents

    Module 1 draft

    ​The public review period will end on May 20, 2020. Please send all comments after the meeting to 


    RetoolCOS Open House #2: Project Plan

    Tuesday, February 18, 2020

    This meeting was an opportunity for the public to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of the current Code and hear Clarion Associates’ preliminary recommendations for improvements to the Code to improve the quality of development, provide a more efficient land development process, and meet the goals and objectives of PlanCOS.

    Project Kickoff Open House for RetoolCOS

    Tuesday, December 3, 2019

    Opportunity for the general public to learn more about the RetoolCOS project, meet and ask questions of the project team, and provide input on successes and shortcomings of the City’s current zoning and subdivision ordinance as it pertains to the implementation of PlanCOS. 

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