Development Standards Overhaul

News and Updates


Development Standards Overhaul

The Adams County Development Standards & Regulations apply to the unincorporated parts of the county; this project seeks to update them.

March 6, 2023
The Development Standards & Regulations (DSR) regulate zoning, uses, lot standards, subdivision layout, and performance standards, among other things. While the DSR has been revised and added to incrementally over the years, it is due for a comprehensive review and modification to bring it to current best practices and align with the community vision and needs.  The subsequent project to revise the DSR, however, is not intended to remove and replace the development standards in their entirety. Rather, the Development Standards Overhaul (DSO) process seeks to work reasonably within the current structure of the code to promote development that meets the needs and vision established by the Comprehensive Plan and clarifies expectations for performance standards and compliance. 

Purpose of the DSO

Components of the code

The Adams County Development Standards & Regulations (DSR) function with three key components:

  • Zoning and uses
  • Performance standards
  • Process

There are instances when a component is out of alignment or disconnected entirely. In these instances, the code adds uncertainty and is difficult to administer. The DSO seeks to re-align the components to encourage understandable,  fair, equitable, and reasonable outcomes to meet the needs of property owners, residents, businesses, and the County.  

Re-alignment may include improving definitions, right-sizing processes, evaluating uses, and reinforcing performance standards.  


Adams County is projected to become the third largest county in the Denver metro area by 2040 with an estimated 40,000 people moving into the unincorporated portions.  Proposals for new housing are limited by zoning in single-family detached (R-1-C), duplexes (R-2), town-homes (R-3), or apartment complexes requiring two acres (R-4), or some variations in a PUD. The Advancing Adams Comprehensive Plan indicated community support for additional housing choice, especially with access to transit or mobility options. 

A key component of residential and zoning standards are subdivision regulation. It is important to update these regulations to conform with best-practices, simplify process when appropriate, and ensure public improvements and Public Land Dedication fees meet community needs.  

Flexibility and Consistency

The DSR relies foremost on zoning and uses to establish what people can do on their property, otherwise known as 'entitlements.'  The DSR, like many zoning codes, relies on "Principal Uses" and "Accessory Uses". However, the DSR currently goes on to state "Only one (1) principal use shall be permitted per lot." This complicates determining the use on a property when their are multiple 'principal uses' otherwise called the "shopping center conundrum." Or when operations or percentage of land area blur the line between principal and accessory uses.

A similar issue may arise when there are multiple industrial uses or tenants on a property, or when definitions conflict to determine what is principal and what is accessory. The DSO will seek to address these considerations to align processes with uses that meet needs and vision.  

Zoning and Project Scope

Check the Zoning Research Map where you can review the zoning on your property, the current code, an overview of proposed changes, and the recommended changes once drafted and available.  Note, overviews are not intended to provide a comprehensive list of all changes that may impact a property.  

Ways To Get Involved

Take a brief survey
Provide your contact info
Email specific comments, recommended code redlines, and questions to Jen Rutter.

Project Process

2023 will focus on public and stakeholder outreach to provide a strong foundation for the text amendments that will take place in 2024. Stay tuned for updates on the project as a consultant is brought on board. 



For questions and information about the Development Standards Overhaul process, please contact:

Jess Daniels
Senior Implementation Planner