RetoolCOS - Zoning Ordinance Update

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About the Project

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aerial view of downtown colorado springs at night. mountains in the background

RetoolCOS will revise the Zoning and Subdivision Ordinance, Chapter 7 of City Code, which has not been comprehensively updated since the late 1990s

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.

 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 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)
  •          Alison Eubanks – City Planning Commission
  •          Jill Gaebler – City Council
  •          David Geislinger – City Council
  •          Todd Goodman – JE Dunn Construction
  •          Scott Hente – City Planning Commission
  •          Henry Reitwiesner – AIA (American Institute of Architects)
  •          Tim Siebert – Nor’wood
  •          Kevin Walker – HBA (Housing & Building Association)

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.

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Contact Us

Questions and comments can be sent to project manager Morgan Hester: RetoolCOS@ColoradoSprings.gov

Upcoming Events

There will be numerous opportunities for community and stakeholder input as part of the RetoolCOS project. Information about upcoming meetings and events will be added as it becomes available: 

Project Kickoff Open House for RetoolCOS

When: Tuesday, December 3, 2019, 6pm – 7:30pm

            Formal Presentation at 6 p.m., followed by open house

Where: Pikes Peak Regional Planning Building

2880 International Circle, 2nd Floor

Colorado Springs, Colo 80910

What: 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.