Planning for Hazards: Land Use Solutions for Colorado

From  the Colorado Department of Local Affairs this guide is intended to help Colorado communities better protect residents and property by integrating resilience principles into their plans, codes, and policies. Detailed example strategies are provided for counties and municipalities to address hazards, which are occurring more frequently in the state, in part due to climate change. The guide begins with a list of community features that should be considered as communities decide what approach to hazard planning is most appropriate for their unique situation. For example, suggested features to consider include a community's size and geographic location; technical, administrative, and financial capacity; and specific goals and political will. The guide was funded with a Community Development Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Information about how to conduct risk assessments is included in Chapter 3, which also highlights common sources of data by each hazard type. Chapter 4 introduces a range of adaptive tools a community can utilize. These tools are grouped by strategy type and accompanied by explanations of how they work, model local code language, links to more detailed information, and examples of successful implementation. The guide specifically calls for the state to:

  • Address specific hazards in local policy and include threats in comprehensive plans, as well as other plans related to climate, land use, and hazard mitigation.
  • Strengthen incentives for responsible growth. Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) is included as an example along with increasing a Community’s Rating under the National Flood Insurance Program and density bonuses.
  • Protect sensitive areas, including floodplains and wetlands, through plans and policies like 1041 regulations, clustered subdivisions, conservation easements, land acquisition, overlay zoning, and stream buffers.
  • Improve site development standards and the built environment through stormwater ordinances, site-specific hazard assessments, subdivision and site design standards, and use-specific standards. The guide also shows how buildings and infrastructure can be improved through the use of building codes, capital improvement plans, critical infrastructure protection, and wildland-urban interface codes.
  • Consider enhancing administration and procedures through implementing moratoriums on post-disaster construction or increasing application submittal requirements.

Opportunities for technical assistance and funding are included in Chapter 5. An appendix on hazards in Colorado includes useful background information and descriptions of different types of natural disasters that impact the state. The guide also indicates how climate change will exacerbate the frequency and severity of natural disasters, further underscoring the need for land use policy solutions to be implemented.


Publication Date: November 2017

Related Organizations:

  • Colorado Department of Local Affairs


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Best practice
  • Planning guides

States Affected:

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