In Progress: Land Use Code Update

The City Council has been diligently working to update the Salida Municipal Code over the past year.  The final chapter remaining is Chapter 16, “Land Use and Development”.  The Council will be reviewing a number of policy questions during their morning work session beginning at 8:30 on Tuesday, February 21st at the City Council Chambers in the Touber Building.

Staff has completed a comprehensive evaluation of Chapter 16, “Land Use and Development.”  The Planning Commission has been reviewing various articles as they have been drafted.  Chapter 16 is the final chapter to be readopted as part of the updated SMC and contains the most extensive regulations in the Code.

Even in this period of relative quiet on the development front, the policies and procedures adopted in the Land Use Code impact City administration and members of the public on a daily basis.  Consistent with the readoption of previous SMC chapters, staff’s first objective in revising Chapter 16 is to promote efficient and effective administration and increase ease of use by citizens and potential developers.  To this end, the proposed revisions substantially reorganize Chapter 16 while maintaining much of the original content.

However, in order to advance our objectives of adopting a more workable, business and citizen friendly Code, we are directing Council’s attention to a number of policy questions and proposed revisions.  A memo summarizing the policy questions before Council can be found on the City’s website at under the department page for Community Development.

One of the most significant changes is a proposed reorganization of the how the City reviews various applications.  Currently there are at least 12 different application types, each with their own process.  Staff has proposed that in the revised code each application should fit into one of three levels of development permit review, Administrative, Limited Impact and Major Impact.

The Administrative level denotes review and approval by the City Administrator (with input from staff) and includes projects of relatively minor impact such as certain variances and conditional uses, lot line eliminations, and small multi-family residential projects of 3-4 units. The Administrator has the discretion to forward an Administrative application to either the Planning Commission or Council if there is some controversial or unique aspect of a project. Appeals of development permits will go directly to the Council.

Under the new development permit process, the Planning Commission would be the final decision maker for Limited Impact projects such as minor subdivisions, multi-family projects of 5-19 units, and non-residential or mixed-use projects of 10,001 to 99,999 square feet. The intent in creating the Limited Impact designation is to reduce burden and cost on applicants while still maintaining an adequate level of oversight by the City.

Major Impact projects such as major subdivisions, planned development projects, rezonings, and large multi-family residential developments of 20 or more units are proposed for review by both the Planning Commission and City Council.

The designations, and the concept itself, are open for review and comment.  The Council will have their first look at this and other policy questions during their work session next Tuesday.  The work session begins at 8:30 and is held in the Council Chambers at the Touber Building, 448 E. First Street.

By: Dara MacDonald, Interim City Administrator and Community Development Director