Government Affairs: Larimer County

June 20, 2019

Housing Themes Key in Comp Plan

At a recent joint meeting of the Larimer County Board of Commissioners and the Larimer County Planning Commission, one item on the agenda included a discussion of the County’s Comprehensive Plan (Comp Plan) revisions, currently scheduled for adoption on July 17. Not surprisingly, two of the top five Comp Plan issues identified by the public according to staff and consultants relate to housing: accessory dwelling units and tiny homes.

According to staff and consultants, County residents want permission to rent accessory dwelling units (ADUs) as well as the ability to own tiny homes on wheels rather than requiring foundations. Current code allows ADUs only for family members and prohibits tiny homes on wheels.

The Comp Plan revision calls for flexibility in the Land Use Code to allow of a diversity of housing types in Principle H1, Housing Diversity. “Larimer County encourages a diversity of housing types necessary to meet the need for identified housing choices.” Under this principle, a specific policy (2.1) refers to accessory dwelling units and tiny homes. “Create flexibility and ensure that the Land Use Code provides opportunities for a diversity of housing options including co-housing, accessible dwelling units, tiny homes, manufactured/ modular homes, recreational vehicles/trailers, mixed-use, and other innovative housing options within Growth Management Areas or other areas where adequate infrastructure is available or is planned.”

The Board of County Commissioners is generally supportive of allowing the rental of ADUs but there was debate at this meeting as to whether the Comp Plan should specify what types of tiny homes should be allowed. Traditionally comp plans don’t get into that level of detail. Instead, they set broad goals that allow staff to draft new policy which is then debated and refined by elected officials.

Commissioners Approve Short-Term Rental Regulations

On June 11 the Board of County Commissioners voted to approve revisions to Larimer County’s short-term rental regulations (STRs). Under the changes, STRs will be allowed in nearly any zone district, including residential zones. The process for smaller STRs (10 or fewer occupants) would take up to 60 days, cost $700 and would require administrative approval. Larger STRs (more than 10 occupants) would require a longer, more expensive process and would require approval by the Board of County Commissioners.

The proposed Land Use Code standards for STRs are similar to those in place for most municipal jurisdictions. The County intends to require a property manager “within one hour or less travel distance” from an occupied STR. The unit must pass a life and safety inspection. Large STRs would also require a fire sprinkler system. Parking requirements would apply to both small and larger STRS. The new rules go into effect on September 1, 2019. More information is available here:

County Finalizes Oil and Gas Task Force

The Larimer County Commissioners have selected members to serve on its volunteer Oil and Gas Task Force, which is charged with assisted staff in the development of local draft regulations to supplement State regulations that mitigate impacts on land use, public health and the environment in the wake of SB-181, which was signed into law by Governor Polis on April 16. The Task Force’s first meeting has been scheduled for June 20.

Task Force members represent a broad cross-section of the community. Jeffrey Martin, the 2020 Chair of Fort Collins Board of REALTORS® and developer Jon Turner of Windsor, will represent the real estate industry. More information is available here:

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