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Commentary and Analysis Regarding Colorado Law

Weld County Land Use Changes (2020)

shutterstock 236481559 1Current and future landowners of real property within unincorporated portions of Weld County will soon have a new comprehensive plan along with new zoning and subdivision codes to consider when planning for potential uses and possible division of their lands. On November 9, 2020, the Weld County Commissioners heard the final reading of County Ordinance 2020-13, to enact a new Weld County Code Chapter 22, for the Weld County Comprehensive Plan (for ease of reference, the “Comp Plan”). Then on November 16, 2020, the Commissioners heard the final reading of Ordinance 2020-16, to enact an amended Code Chapter 23, regarding Zoning, and an amended Code Chapter 24, regarding Subdivisions.

Obviously, Weld County personnel and elected officials have devoted a lot of time and effort in crafting the new Comp Plan in response to an anticipated doubling of the population of Weld County over the coming decades and the desire for orderly growth. The new Comp Plan sets out several goals, the major ones being to steer future industrial and commercial development to areas closer to major highways and intersections, and to steer larger developments to areas within three miles of municipalities. The County has created a Comprehensive Plan Map which illustrates the vision of areas appropriate for various types of future development. Comprehensive Plan Map  

The new Code Chapter 24 for Subdivisions covers possible methods of subdividing lands using the PUD process for larger developments and a Minor Subdivision process for up to nine lots. For landowners now wishing to create one to four additional lots, the new Code presents some options, as the new Chapter 24 eliminates the Recorded Exemption process and the Subdivision Exemption process, which were often used by farmers and smaller landowners to create an additional building site for family use or for a potential sale. As an aid to landowners, the Department of Planning Services has created a Weld County Land Division diagram which illustrates which subdivision options may be available for lands located within three miles of a municipality, or within an area served by a public water district. Land Division Options

The new Code will eliminate the previous Weld County specific requirement, that land parcels had to contain at least 80-acres to avoid processing any division through the County, with the new provision stating that a transfer of a parcel containing 35-acres or more is not subject to the County subdivision processes, which is consistent with long-standing Colorado law.

For potential divisions with fewer lots, a new process for lands located within an Agricultural Zoning District, referred to as a Rural Land Division, allows for subdivisions of up to four lots of a minimum size of three acres. A Rural Land Division requires that lots be served by a public water source and have a dedicated road right of way. Another new option is a one-time, Family Farm Division for a parcel of at least 70 acres provided the family farm the parcel resides on, or adjacent to the 70 acres, with the FFD allowing for the creation of one additional permanent lot of one to three acres. An advantage of the FFD is that the water source may be either private or public, and no dedicated road right of way is required.

Obviously, there are many details and specific requirements within the Comp Plan or the Zoning and Subdivision Codes which may affect a landowner’s decision of how they wish to proceed to divide and develop their property, and landowners should review the new Code sections and consult with their professional advisors. Lyons Gaddis has a team of Real Estate, Land Use & Zoning attorneys ready to help you with your plan.

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