Comprehensive Master Plan Update
Do you have ideas or comments on development in Jefferson County? Planning & Zoning is exploring potential updates to the Comprehensive Master Plan and we are looking for your feedback. See the Plan Updates page to find out more and take a survey.
Workshop to Bridge Gap Between Water Supply and Land Use Planning
Jefferson County staff and one County Commissioner will be attending a Growing Water Smart Workshop in September 2018. Participation in the workshop was granted to the County through a competitive process through the Sonoran Institute. The workshop is intended to help bridge the gap between water supply and land use planning. Jefferson County does not provide water or wastewater services, rather separate districts may provide those services to the residents that do not have an individual water well or onsite wastewater treatment system. The Jefferson County Commissioners do make land use decisions, including rezoning and plat applications, and those applicants must provide documentation on how the water and wastewater supplies will be provided. Jefferson County staff works closely with the multiple water and wastewater providers to ensure there will be an adequate water supply for the existing and new residents of Jefferson County.
Given our semi-arid climate and the anticipated population growth in Colorado, proper water resource management is a key feature of planning for a successful future. This workshop will include entities that provide water supplies only, make land use decisions only and those jurisdictions that provide water supplies and make land use decisions. This workshop provides an opportunity for Jefferson County staff and County Commissioner to learn how to better communicate and plan for increased water supply demand and land use.
Chatfield Watershed Authority
Jefferson County is an active member of the Chatfield Watershed Authority which provides a regional approach to water quality in the Chatfield Watershed. There are many beneficial uses within the 400 square mile watershed including drinking water, flood control, fisheries and recreation uses. Chatfield State Park is the most popular State Park and the water quality of the reservoir is one of the main attractions.
- The location of the Chatfield Watershed relative to the Denver metro area
- Which drainageways (rivers and creeks) are within and flow to Chatfield Reservoir
- The locations of water quality monitoring completed by the Chatfield Watershed Authority’s members
- Which water quality parameters are monitored by the Chatfield Watershed Authority’s members
- And much more!
Jeffco Attends Mitigating Hazards through Land Use Solutions Workshop
We are all very aware that two of our goals in Jefferson County include to foster safe and healthy communities and foster responsible development and stewardship of the county’s natural and man-made resources through responsible fiscal planning and service delivery.
Jefferson County ultimately wants to be a model jurisdiction for the protection of our existing communities while ensuring future development does not increase our risks for drought, wildfire, floods, and other natural disasters. By implementing land use solutions for hazards, we strive to instill confidence that the County is working hard to protect lives and property within our varied environments.
Most of the unincorporated parts of western Jefferson County are vulnerable to wildfire with a high potential for property damage and loss of life due to development in the wildland urban interface (WUI). The likeliness of a wildfire incident in the County on any given year is nearly 100%. Approx. 33% of Jefferson County’s population, or about 200,000+ residents live in the WUI in Jefferson County. Jefferson County has one of the largest WUI hazards in the country. The only other geographic area in the country that has comparable population living in the WUI is California.
This is why, in a cross-division effort, an application was submitted January 2018 to participate in the Mitigating Hazards through Land Use Solutions Workshop. Jefferson County was selected out of a competitive application process to participate in a wildfire hazards specific workshop in Edwards, CO June 7th, 2018. The Jefferson County planning team consisted of:
- Kate Newman, Deputy County Manager
- Chris O’Keefe, Director of P&Z
- Jennifer McGinnis, Planner P&Z
- Paige Cybulski, Civil Planning Engineer P&Z
- Patrick O’Connell, Engineering Geologist P&Z
- Brian Daley, Sheriff’s Office Director of Emergency Management (technical advisor)
- Erika Roberts, Sheriff’s Office Emergency Management Coordinator
- Aaron Betcher, Sheriff’s Office Fire Management Officer (technical advisor)
The Mitigating Hazards through Land Use Solutions Workshop was hosted by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA), the Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Management (DHSEM), and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) with the focus of updating land use and development codes to reduce the impact of natural disasters.The next steps for the team include further detailed examination of possible mitigation measures that were presented at the workshop. These include updating the WUI Code that is typically used in conjunction with the building code and fire code to mitigate risks from wildfire to life and property. Some implementation measures from the WUI Code would include requiring vegetation management plans for developments, implementing regulations on structure density and location, and examining current emergency vehicle access standards, for example. The team plans to meet with Fire Marshals from local Fire Protection Districts and further examine these ideas in detail. More information on these potential mitigation measures can be found at the Planning for Hazards – Land Use Solution for Colorado website.
Jefferson County already has some WUI code measures in place, such as requiring secondary access for developments with greater than 30 single family units or 100 multi-family units, and/or having a cul-de-sac access that is greater than a mile long (Land Development Regulation Section 15.A.1.c.(3)), requiring Defensible Space permits for vegetation management for new residential structures or additions over 400 square feet, and requiring a Wildfire Mitigation Plan for developments per direction of the Colorado State Forest Service. Planning and Zoning is working in consultation with Emergency Management to refine and improve the current Wildfire mitigation measures in place, as well as possibly proposing new regulations and measures.
Our Regulations have been updated as of the July 17, 2018 Board of County Commissioners Hearing. Final documents are being prepared and will be available by August 31, 2018. In the interim, please look here for red-marked copies of the Regulations.
Jefferson County is now accepting Grading Permits and Floodplain Permits in addition to Pre-Application submittals through the On-Line Application system.
Jefferson County Comprehensive Master Plan data available through online mapping application “jMap”
Before the Jefferson County Comprehensive Master Plan was adopted in October of 2013, the over 500,000 sprawling acres of the unincorporated county were divided into nine separate Community Plans. Each Community Plan was unique to its specific diverse region, from the North Mountains to the South Plains. These plans were available online and in printed form and were updated periodically.
Each plan had a host of static maps including specific Land Use Recommendations. When a citizen would inquire about an individual parcel and its associated recommended land use, they would have to contact Planning and Zoning staff or find a static map and deduce which plan recommendation their parcel was within.
During the drafting of the Comprehensive Master Plan, Planning and Zoning staff saw an incredible opportunity to utilize available technology and create a spatial inventory of Comprehensive Master Plan data. This data would be available anytime to the general public as well as utilized to support and benefit day to day planning functions within the division through the jMap Online Mapping application.
Merging spatial data from nine separate and unique Community Plans proved to be a daunting task and took many staff members over a year to construct a working layer. The layer gives the same citizen noted above the ability to open a website on their computer or any mobile device and in a matter of a few clicks, they will be able to find information about plan recommendations and other informative spatial data. Staff continues to work on this layer to make it even more user friendly in the months to come.
Land Disturbance in Jefferson County
A Land Disturbance Permit is required for any land disturbance greater than 5,000 square feet. Land disturbance area is not just the footprint of a house or driveway excavation, it also includes, but is not limited to, cut and fill areas, stockpiling area, access to and excavation area for a septic tank and leach field, retaining wall construction and disturbance associated with the grading around a home and driveway. More information can be found on the Planning and Zoning Land Disturbance Permitting page.
Grading and Erosion Control Performance Standards must be followed for all land disturbance in Jefferson County regardless if a Land Disturbance Permit is required. This entails installing proper erosion and sediment control measures and following general rules where there is land disturbance. Some examples of sediment control measures include silt fence, straw wattle and vehicle tracking control. Erosion control measures include erosion control blankets placed on disturbed ground, hydromulching and seeding. Installing a silt fence around a stockpile to contain sediment from leaving the stockpile area is one example of a Performance Standard. Please visit our Land Disturbance Permitting page and review the “Do I need a land disturbance permit” document for more information on Performance Standards.It is also important to know that any work within a Floodplain requires a Floodplain Permit. This includes, but is not limited to, land disturbance activities, retaining walls, any grading, removing structures, installing a shed or any structure, and stockpiling dirt. You can determine if you are in a floodplain by visiting the Jeffco Interactive Mapping Application, search your property and turn on the “Floodplains” layer. For more information on the Floodplain Permit, please visit our Floodplains Management page.
If you have any further questions, please contact the Planning and Zoning Division at 303-271-8700. These requirements are for unincorporated Jefferson County areas. If you are incorporated within a City, please contact them for information on their regulations and requirements.