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Guiding Principles for the Land Use Code Update Project

The 2020 Together Chaffee County Comprehensive Plan (2020 Comprehensive Plan) is a guide for future development of both private and public land in Chaffee County for the next 20+ years. The Land Use Code (LUC) is the primary regulatory document that the County uses to ensure quality development with guidance from the 2020 Comprehensive Plan. The LUC includes regulations and standards that address zoning, land uses, natural resource protections, subdivisions, building setbacks, building height, parking, landscaping, neighborhood character, and application procedures.


As such, the County has developed the following as the guiding principles to help focus and guide the LUC Update process.

  1. Ensure That the LUC is User-Friendly. The LUC should be easy to use for the general public, applicants, and administrators. Information should be logically arranged, easy to find, and include language and graphics that are attractive and clear.

  2. Make the Right Things Easy. Development that reflects the long-term planning direction of the 2020 Comprehensive Plan should have a clear and concise approval process with standards that align with the desired development patterns.

  3. Balance Flexibility and Predictability. The updated LUC should balance the benefits of clear, objective standards with common sense flexibility that is consistent with the development goals of the 2020 Comprehensive Plan. The update process should increase transparency in the application and approval process to provide landowners, applicants, and the public with predictability.

  4. Engage the Public. A code is not just a document—it is a process. To ensure long-term success, the LUC should reflect the input of a broad range of stakeholders. The update process should utilize multiple avenues and platforms to engage the public and allow them to participate in shaping the future of their county in a meaningful way.

  5. Right-Size the Standards and Procedures. The LUC should not over- or under-deliver. The zoning and subdivision standards should ensure that development reflects the expected level of design as well as the unique needs and market conditions of Chaffee County.

  6. Preserve and Enhance Local Character. The 2020 Comprehensive Plan articulates a strong vision for protecting Chaffee County’s unique landscapes and heritage. The Code should protect and enhance local cultural, environmental, and historic resources that contribute to the community’s shared connection to place.

  7. Support Agricultural Land Uses. The LUC should support and incentivize the continuation of working landscapes and agricultural land uses, recognizing how heritage contributes to economic development and broadens awareness of local culture and history.

  8. Ensure Housing for Locals. The LUC should allow for and encourage housing for the local workforce by using incentives and development standards to encourage a variety of housing types and exploring the specific housing recommendations from the 2020 Comprehensive Plan. The LUC Update process will posit innovative approaches that respect the natural and historic context of Chaffee County.

  9. Encourage Sustainable Development Practices. The LUC should encourage and incentivize the use of sustainable development practices, site planning techniques, and innovative technologies in all public and private development. This may include but not be limited to adaptive reuse of buildings, water- and fire-wise landscape standards, low-impact design standards for stormwater mitigation, minimized development in hazardous areas, energy efficiency standards, clustered development standards, and increased connectivity for walking and biking.

  10. Avoid New Nonconformities. Substantive changes to the zoning district or development standards will likely create new nonconformities. The LUC update should explore standards that reflect the best aspects of current development patterns and eliminate unnecessary and outdated standards in order to minimize unnecessary nonconformities.

  11. Provide Enforceable Tools. At its core, the LUC is a legal document. It provides Chaffee County the authority to regulate and condition development. However, it must be enforceable to serve its intended purpose. The LUC update process should explore tools to improve enforceability such as reporting requirements, compliance plans, and improved notification procedures in accordance with Colorado land use law.

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