Government Affairs: Fort Collins

March 26, 2019

City Plan Adoption Delayed

The City of Fort Collins has announced a change in the adoption timeline for City Plan, Fort Collins’ comprehensive plan. According to the announcement, extra time will allow for more editing and the inclusion of additional community comments. The adoption was originally planned for March 19 but is now scheduled for April 16, which not coincidentally is the last session for the current City Council. The municipal election scheduled for April 2 could lead to significant changes to the Council’s makeup.

Outdoor Wood Burning Ordinance Approved

The City Council unanimously approved an ordinance to regulate outdoor wood burning fire pits on March 19. The ordinance will make violations a civil offense. It requires a 10:00 pm curfew and fire pits must be set back 15 feet from the property line. It is important to note the ordinance will not regulate barbeque grills or other wood-burning devices used to cook food.

The Council had thought to require a 25-foot setback but staff explained that would ban fire pits for 57 percent of single-family lots in the City, so the Council went back to the originally proposed 15-foot setback. Staff plans to unveil an outreach/education campaign in May to help residents understand the reasons for the ordinance, including the health effects of wood smoke on people with breathing-related illnesses such as asthma. In July staff will begin enforcing the ordinance. In the first year, staff will focus on voluntary compliance, but formal warnings and citations for “egregious violators” are possible.

Enforcement will be the responsibility of the Environmental Services Department, with fire and police providing back up enforcement. The details of the enforcement program are yet to be determined.

The Fort Collins Board of REALTORS® is opposed to any outdoor or backyard residential fire pit restrictions, regulation or ban arguing it is “a governmental overreach that will negatively impact the enjoyment and use of owner’s property rights.” Council member Ross Cunniff disagreed with this position, saying “I appreciate people enjoy campfires, may even have a spiritual experience with a campfire but that does not trump people’s ability to enjoy their property unimpeded.”

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