City of Colorado Springs / Land Use Review / General Land Use and Zoning Information / Types of Development Applications and their Review Process

Types of Development Applications and their Review Process

The process of reviewing land use issues is the method by which long range, comprehensive and development plans are implemented and culminates in the issuance of a building permit. The process is designed to allow public participation at virtually every step. There are a variety of development applications available depending on what is being proposed or requested. Development applications can be reviewed administratively or by Planning Commission and/or City Council, depending on the type of request. The development process is a fluid process and can change at any time. For the most up-to-date information, please click here to go to the City Code located here or contact the Land Use Review office at 385-5905.


A pre-application meeting should be scheduled with one of the Planners for the area in which the development is to be located prior to submittal of the application. The Planner will be able identify the requirements that will be needed for the development proposal, i.e., geologic hazard report vs. geologic hazard exemption, traffic study requirements, drainage report requirements vs. drainage letter requirements, etc. as well provide insight on what may or may not be possible at the proposed site.


Development applications that are submitted for review by Planning Commission and/or City Council will take longer than those submitted for administrative review as public hearings are required. Some development applications are required to be heard by both Planning Commission and City Council and consequently, additional time should be anticipated. A development proposal that would include a zone change, concept plan and subdivision plat applications would need to be heard by both Planning Commission and City Council and could take approximately five to six months to complete from start of submittal to final decision. An annexation, master plan, establishment of a zone and concept plan may take approximately seven to nine months depending on the complexity of the annexation as it must be reviewed initially by City Council to determine whether the petition for annexation can be accepted and then a full review must occur and be presented to Planning Commission and City Council again for a final decision. A Conditional Use or Use Variance application would be required to be reviewed by only Planning Commission unless the application is appealed and therefore the time frame would be less. The aforementioned time frames are based on an ideal window with all required information submitted at the outset.


Most development applications can be appealed whether they are approved administratively or by Planning Commission. An appeal must be filed in writing within ten (10) days of the date of the decision and accompanied by the applicable application fee. Appeals of administrative decisions should be submitted to the Land Use Review office and appeals of Planning Commission decisions should be submitted to the City Clerk's office.


Applications that are submitted for review by Planning Commission and/or City Council involve the following types of applications:


Annexation: This is the process of adding an area into the City limits. Annexations are appropriate if certain State statutory requirements are met and if it is a "logical" extension of the City's boundaries. Other issues which can be raised include fiscal impact, access to the site and the need for future public improvements.


Development Agreements: An agreement is a negotiated contract between the City and the developer of a particular property that should identify the public benefits of a development and development rights and densities thereof along with a list of special payments or improvements that would need to be completed by the developer.


Master Plan: A master plan is intended to provide a comprehensive review of planning issues in a specific area and represents implementation of the Comprehensive Plan. The master plan designates general land uses; maximum density for residential uses; park and school sites; and the major street system.


Zone Change: A zone is a delineated area in which all land and structures are governed by a specific use and set of development standards. A zone change can be to initiate a zone for a newly annexed area or to change a zone classification from one existing zone to another. If a property is located in a master‑plan area, the proposed zone must conform to the approved master plan and meet the criteria in the City Code. If the site is not in a master planned area, the proposed zone change would be required to meet the criteria in the City Code.


Planned Unit Development (PUD) and/or Mixed Use (MU) Concept and Development Plans: These zones can allow for a variety of land uses; residential, commercial, office and/or industrial. The review of the plans will actually determine the type of uses and become the 'zone' of the property. The zone encourages flexibility and innovation to improve the quality of the physical development.


Concept Plans: A concept plan will show a large area of property and is usually used as a guide in approving a more detailed development plan. Concept plans will delineate basic zoning, lot lines, general uses, approximate building locations and parking, easements and access. Landscaping and final determination of building locations and parking are normally reviewed with a development plan submittal.


Conditional Use: A conditional use is a use which may be allowed if the use is found to meet specific requirements and/or conditions. A development plan is required to be submitted with all of the applicable information and data for a conditional use request.


Use Variance: This is a request to allow a use that is not allowed within a particular zone. The use may not be permitted as it could be considered to be incompatible with surrounding uses. A development plan is required to be submitted with all of the applicable information and data for a use variance request.


Vacation Plat: This type of subdivision plat vacates lot lines and/or rights-of-way to allow for a different configuration.


Applications that are normally reviewed administratively involve the following types:


Development Plans: A development plan identifies building footprints, setbacks, land uses, access, parking, easements and landscaping. Although some zone districts or conditions of record may require Planning Commission review, most development plans are reviewed administratively with no public hearing required. A development plan once approved becomes in affect the 'zone' on a particular parcel and therefore all development at the site must conform to the approved plan.


Subdivision Plat: An area or tract of land that subdivided into actual lots which need to conform to the requirements of the Subdivision Code as well the requirements noted on the proposed development plan for the site. This process must be done by a State licensed Surveyor which will identify all of the platted lots and tracts as well as the public and/or private rights-of-way, trail, utility and/or drainage easements, etc.


Non‑Use Variance: A non-use variance is a request for an exception to the development standards of a particular zone district, i.e., setback distance, building height, number of off-street parking spaces, etc.


Administrative Relief: Administrative relief is a request for an exception to development standards however the maximum amount of relief that can be requested is 15% to any quantitative standard listed within the Zoning and/or Subdivision Code.


Minor Amendments: A minor amendment to an approved plan can include an amendment to a concept plan, development plan, conditional use or use variance. Minor amendments are classified as a minimal change to the approved plan i.e., shift in building location, slight alteration in parking, relocation of an access, change in type of landscape shrubs to be planted, etc. The determination on whether the request is a major or minor amendment is determined by the Planner at the time of the pre-application meeting.


Minor Subdivision Actions: There are several applications that allow for building permits to be obtained without the time and cost of a full subdivision replatting process being required.

         Property Boundary Adjustments allow for the correction of minor engineering or building errors i.e., a new driveway was completed and crosses the lot line. The procedure changes the legal description however it does not transfer the property which must be accomplished with separate documentation.

         Preservation Easement Adjustments allow for minor changes to preservation easements which were established at the time of subdivision plat and the land cannot be disturbed from its natural state.

         Amendment to Plat Restrictions allows for the removal of conditions and restrictions on recorded plats which are deemed to be no longer necessary or applicable.

         Issuance of a Building Permit to Unplatted Land allows for a building permit to be issued for a property that has never been platted. There are limitations and restrictions on the amount of building that can occur; this determination can be made at the time of the pre-application meeting with the Planner.

         Waiver of Replat allows for a combination of lots or portions of lots so that a building permit can be obtained. State law requires that only 'whole platted lots' can obtain a building permit. This process creates 'one lot' for building permit purposes only however as the legal description does not change.

         Issuance of Building Permit prior to Platting allows for an applicant to begin construction at a site prior to the subdivision plat being approved and recorded.

         Street Name Change allows for a change in the name of particular street with the agreement of all parties that front the street right-of-way.

         Subdivision Waiver is a request for a waiver to either design standards or procedures in the Subdivision Code i.e., street width, construction of curb, gutter and sidewalks, etc.