RAPID/Roadmap/1-CO-a

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RAPID

Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop Toolkit

Colorado Land Use Planning (1-CO-a)

Colorado delegates land use planning to regional, county, and municipal planning commissions.


Land Use Planning Process

1-CO-a.1 – Land Use Planning Delegated to Municipalities and Counties

The Colorado general assembly has authority to establish areas and activities of state interest pursuant to C.R.S. §24-65.1-101. However, under Colorado Revised Statute (C.R.S.) §29-20-101 land use planning decisions in Colorado are delegated to the 64 counties and the 271 incorporated municipalities. Local governments may identify, designate, and regulate areas and activities of state interest through local permitting processes pursuant to Colorado – C.R.S. 24-65.1-101 et seq., Areas and Activities of State Interest Act (1041 powers). Moreover, Colorado law authorizes counties (C.R.S. § 30-28-103) and municipalities (C.R.S. § 31-23-202) to establish planning commissions. Under C.R.S. § 29-20-105, planning commissions adopt land use plans called “master” or “comprehensive” plans.

County planning commissions make and adopt master plans for the physical development of the unincorporated territory of the county. C.R.S. § 30-28-106(1). Regional planning commissions make and adopt regional plans for the physical development of the territory within the boundaries of the region. C.R.S. § 30-28-106(2)(a). A municipal planning commission, in any incorporated municipality, may adopt the regional plan, but do not have to, in order for the plan to become effective. C.R.S. § 30-28-106(2)(a).

Land use plans are required to include a planning element for development of local water resources (C.R.S. §§ 31-23-206(1)(d),30-28-106(3)(a)(IV))]]), location of public utilities whether publicly or privately owned or operated (C.R.S. §§31-23-206(1)(c), 30-28-106(3)(a)(III)), and the protection of biological and geological resources (C.R.S. §§31-23-206(1)(c), 30-28-106(3)(a)(VII))]]. County and regional plans account for the planning considerations addressed by municipal plans (stated above), but on a larger scale. C.R.S. § 30-28-106(3)(a). County commissioners have the authority to adopt a master plan for the regulation of stream flow, specific to flood control. C.R.S. §§30-30-102(1), 30-30-104; Colorado Code of Regulations 2 CCR 408-2, Rules Concerning the Colorado Instream Flow and Natural Lake Level Program; Colorado Code of Regulations 2 CCR 408-1, Rules and Regulations for Regulatory Floodplains in Colorado. County and regional plans also have a specific mandate to assure “access to appropriate conditions for solar, wind, and other alternative energy sources.” C.R.S. § 30-28-106(3)(a)(VI).


Geothermal

The State of Colorado has drafted two sets of Model Guidelines and Regulations for the Use of Geothermal Resources for Commercial Production of Electricity, one for counties and one for municipalities. County and municipal authorities have the discretion to adopt the model guidelines and regulations. In addition, Colorado’s Geothermal Resources Act (C.R.S. § 37-90.5-101), defines geothermal resources as the heat and medium used to extract that heat; a water right or permit is required for the use of water to transport that heat to the surface.

Hydropower

Municipal plans regarding hydropower projects may account for the “general location and extent of public utilities terminals” the general “location and extent of an adequate” supply of water, and the “change of use, or extension of rights-of-way...” C.R.S. §§31-23-206(1)(a),(c),(d). In addition, municipal plans may consider local biological and geographic resources, including “endangered or threatened species, wetlands, floodplains, and erodible land.” C.R.S. §§31-23-206(1)(K)); Colorado Code of Regulations 2 CCR 408-2, Rules Concerning the Colorado Instream Flow and Natural Lake Level Program; Colorado Code of Regulations 2 CCR 408-1, Rules and Regulations for Regulatory Floodplains in Colorado.



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