Frequently Asked Questions

Where does the El Paso County Planning and Community Development Department have jurisdiction?

Jurisdiction applies to the unincorporated portions of El Paso County (land that is not in an incorporated City or Town). The Planning and Community Development Department is not able to review projects that are in incorporated cities or towns because each of these have their own separate regulations. El Paso County is an “arm of the State” and thus mandated to uphold State Statutes.

How do I know if I am in the County?

A way to determine if a property/parcel is in unincorporated El Paso County, use the El Paso County Assessor Property Search. to find property information either by parcel, address, or owner name.

Once the property/parcel is located, the “Public Record Property Information” page will be displayed. Scroll down the page and find the list of the parcel’s taxing entities. A parcel is under County jurisdiction if no taxing entities begin with the words “city of” or “town of” followed by name of an incorporated city/town.

What are the Cities/Towns that are incorporated in El Paso County?

Calhan

(719) 347-2586 http://calhan.co/
Colorado Springs (719) 385-2489 https://coloradosprings.gov/
Fountain (719) 322-2000 https://www.fountaincolorado.org/
Green Mountain Falls (719) 684-9414 https://greenmountainfalls.colorado.gov
Manitou Springs (719) 685-5481 http://www.manitouspringsgov.com/
Monument (719) 481-2954 http://www.townofmonument.org/
Palmer Lake (719) 481-2953 http://www.townofpalmerlake.com/
Ramah (719) 541-2163 https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/ramah/

Who reviews my plans and issues a building permit?

Plans are reviewed by the El Paso County Planning and Community Development Department and the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department.

The Planning and Community Development Department reviews it for Land Use and zoning requirements.

The Pikes Peak Regional Building Department issues permits and collects fees when permits are issued.

Site Plan examples (click to enlarge)

Example – proposed addition on typical size parcel

Example – proposed addition on larger size parcel

What is a Site Plan and what must it show?

A Site Plan is an accurately scaled drawing of a lot or parcel showing, at a minimum, the property address, the schedule/tax number, all existing structures, easements, rights-of-way, setbacks from the property lines to the existing structures (if any), the location of the lot in relation to abutting streets, driveway/access location(s), and dimensions of the proposed structure and of existing structures, including height.

If your property is a platted lot in unincorporated El Paso County, the lot dimensions on the Site Plan should match the dimensions on the subdivision plat and show any additional requirements written in the plat notes (e.g., a setback that is more than required by the County Land Development Code). Plat copies are available to view, and copies may be purchased, at the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office.

Dimensions of unplatted lots may be found in a Survey Plat, the Legal Description of your property, or at the El Paso County Assessor’s Office. A Survey Plat may be required in some cases. Professional surveyors can be found in the yellow pages of your local telephone directory.

How do I know if I need a site plan?

A Site Plan is needed when building a house; setting up a mobile, manufactured or modular home; remodeling an existing structure; adding a garage; building, rebuilding or adding on to a deck; and any other improvement to your property that requires a Building Permit. See link at bottom of this page for site plan form.

Where can I find a Site Plan of my property?

Many times a site plan is included in the papers from the purchase of your home. These are called Improvement Location Certificates (ILC). You may use a copy of this document to show any changes you want to make on your house or property, but only if you copy and remove all seals, signatures, and the words “improvement location certificate.”

You may use a copy of your lot made from the plat of the subdivision on file at the Clerk and Recorders Office. This plat will also show the dimensions of your lot and these need to show on the site plan you present for review.

The Planning and Community Development Department began real-time scanning of all documents which are reviewed over the counter in mid-2006, so any activity on your property after that date means the site plan should be in our scanned data base. If your home or other building activity on your property was conducted prior to the mid-2006 date you may be able to obtain the Site Plan from the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department.

May I prepare a Site Plan myself?

You may prepare a Site Plan yourself. The El Paso County Land Development Code (LDC) requires the Site Plan to be prepared in a manner consistent with regulations.

How do I determine building height?

The vertical distance measured from the average elevation of the finished grade adjoining the building to the highest point of the roof surface, if a flat roof; to the deck line of mansard roofs; and to the mean height level between eaves and ridges for gable, hip and gambrel roofs.

Determine gabled roof height

Building a House, Deck, Shed, Fence, Garage or Addition

Site Plan example (click to enlarge)

What do I need to do to build a new house?

Your first step is to draw, or acquire professionally drawn, “blueprints” (interior drawings of the house) and a Site Plan which will be reviewed for code compliance (land use code, universal building code, etc.) by various organizations. For construction of a new house (in addition to site plan and interior drawing review) the El Paso County Planning and Community Development Department requires that a Driveway Application and a Drainage Permit Application be approved and the Road Impact Fee be paid. The Site Plan, Driveway, and Drainage applications may be submitted on-line through the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department website. The Driveway Permit will take up to three (3) days.

Site Plans and Permits have fees, including the Road Impact Fee, that are to be paid at the time permits are “pulled” with Regional Building Department.

If your property is considered to be in a high fire risk area, you will need to have the drawings reviewed by a Fire District/Department or the El Paso County Fire Marshall prior to submitting them to the Development Services Department for review.

Some areas/subdivisions require engineered site plans. Prior to designing or submitting drawings for review, it is a good idea to call our office at (719) 520-6300 to find out if you are in such an area.

May I live in an RV?

You may only live in an RV on your property while building your home, with an approved Temporary Use permit. The site plan for your permanent residence must be approved and a building permit issued prior to obtaining your Temporary Use permit. It is a good idea to apply for the Temporary Use permit at the same time you bring in your site plan.

I want to add on to my house, where do I start?

You must have interior drawings and a site plan showing the exact location of all structures on your property, where your driveway enters the property, setback and easements shown on all sides of your property lines, and the dimension of each structure, including the New Structure you are adding to your home. There is a Site Plan Review Fee.

Must my deck meet setback requirements?

If it is attached to the home and over 18 inches in height, the deck must meet residential setbacks. If it is attached and less than 18 inches in height it is not considered a structure and so has no setback requirements.

If the deck is detached and over 18 inches in height it is considered an accessory structure and must meet the residential setbacks or those for an accessory structure, based on the zone district. If it is detached and less than 18 inches in height the deck is not considered a structure and so has no setback requirement.

How may I find the interior drawings of my house?

Most interior plans are scanned by the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department (719) 327-2880. Buildings that are very old often do not have plans.

I want to put a separate (detached) building on my property, what is required?

Requirements for detached buildings are the same as for additions. The Land Development Code has specific requirements for size, height, and setbacks. All this information must be included on your Site Plan and must be accompanied by interior drawings.

May I build an accessory structure on a contiguous parcel on which there is no structure?

Yes. Both lots must be under the same ownership and an Accessory Use Agreement must be signed and recorded. There must be a principal use on the main lot. These will be tracked in the Development Services Department by creating a file containing both tax schedule numbers. The lots are considered one lot, not two. If the owner wishes to sell the parcel with the accessory use, the agreement becomes null and void and the property is in violation of the Land Development Code until a new residence is built.

I want to put up a fence: what are the height requirements?

Fences may be up to seven (7) feet in height. Any fence over seven (7) feet is considered a structure and must have an engineered drawing and a site plan. These must be reviewed by Planning and Community Development Department and Pikes Peak Regional Building Department. A building permit is required. If you live on a corner lot, fences must be shorter if there is a corner easement for sight visibility for the road.

You may put a fence on your property line, even though property lines are frequently the middle of an easement (most easements have the same amount of property set aside on each side of a lot line). If the easement is needed, the dedicated easement user may remove or move your fence and is not required to put it back.

I need to build a retaining wall. What is required?

Some retaining walls require approval by the Planning and Community Development Department and the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department. Building code requires retaining walls be engineered and a permit obtained when walls are greater than four (4) feet in height.

A retaining wall four (4) feet in height or greater needs Planning & Community Development Department and Pikes Peak Regional Building approval, and must meet the accessory building setbacks. If there is no special accessory building setback, then the regular setback requirements apply.

Any wall that retains surcharge (pressure) requires engineering and permits, no matter what the height.

A retaining wall less than four (4) feet in height needs no approvals, unless it retains surcharge.

What is a setback? How may I find out what mine are?

A Setback is the minimum distance from the property line to any existing or proposed structure. Setback distances required vary by Zone District and type of structure.

View Setbacks for each Zone District: Land Development Code Manual and Reference Tables

To find which zone you are in: El Paso County Assessor Property Search.

Must my deck meet setback requirements?

If it is attached to the home and over 18 inches in height, the deck must meet residential property setbacks. If it is attached and less than 18 inches in height, it is not considered a structure and has no setback requirement.

If the deck is detached and over 18 inches in height, it is considered an accessory structure and must meet the residential setbacks or those for an accessory structure, whichever is listed in the zone district. If it is detached and less than 18 inches in height, the deck is not considered a structure and has no setback requirement.

What is an Easement?

An Easement is an area which is reserved, conveyed or dedicated for a specialized or limited purpose without the transfer of fee title; e.g., public utilities easements.

You continue to own the property, but it is set aside for use as needed by the entity certified (by recorded plat, etc.) to use it. You are not allowed to build a structure in an easement.

Site Plans reviewed by the Development Services Department are required to show all Easements. Easements are shown or specified in the notes on each individual subdivision plat.

What is a Minor Subdivision?

El Paso County defines a Minor Subdivision as a subdivision of four (4) or fewer lots which does not require public improvements or waivers of the subdivision regulations.

What are public improvements and waivers?

Public improvements include public roads, drainage structures or other infrastructure that may be dedicated to El Paso County. Waivers include any request for relief from the strict application of the El Paso County Land Development Code requirements.

Is it a difficult process? Can I do it myself?

The Minor Subdivision process is designed with the non-professional in mind. However, professional assistance is required for surveying and plat preparation. Most land use professionals are familiar with the El Paso County process and can provide valuable assistance to the first-timer. Surveyors, engineers and planners can be located in the yellow pages of the local telephone directory.

Do I really need to subdivide?

If you are creating lots of less than 35 acres in size then the lots must be created through the subdivision process. This is required by the Colorado State Statute commonly referred to as Senate Bill 35.

Do I need to rezone?

Zone districts assigned to a property set the minimum lots size as well as other requirements. Creating a minor subdivision may trigger the need for other actions, such as rezoning.

Where do I start?

An Early Assistance meeting is a required first step. You will fill out an Early Assistance Application and submit it with the required documents and the fee. Then a Team is assigned to your project; this team generally consists of a Project Manager, Planner and Engineer. Access to additional professional assistance is available should it be required. The Project Manager is your main contact for the project you have begun.

How long does the process take?

Typically the average Minor Subdivision project takes between 90 and 120 days from submittal to the final decision. Circumstances may arise that could lengthen this process. These potential elements/specifics of your project will be determined and discussed with you at your Early Assistance Meeting. These potential elements may include subdivision regulations, zoning, comprehensive plans, access, water, sewer, drainage, wildlife, geologic factors, submittal requirements, non-county agency requirements, fees and the general feasibility of your project.

What’s next?

After the Early Assistance meeting, you need to set up a Submittal meeting with your Project Manager. Your submittal is reviewed by the Team and non-county agencies. The project will be scheduled for the first available (agenda permitting) Planning Commission hearing after the applicant has resolved all issues and adequately addressed Development Services and review agency comments. After a recommendation is given by the Planning Commission, the project can then be scheduled with the Board of County Commissioners which makes the final decision on your subdivision request.

If you have additional questions, please reach out to the Planner of the Day 719-520-6944 – dsd-pod@elpasoco.com

What if I can’t meet the dimensional standards (setbacks, height, lot coverage, etc.) requirement?

There are two different application types to request relief from a dimensional standard. The first, and more streamlined process, is administrative relief. This application type generally allows for approval of a 20% reduction in the dimensional standards. The second is a dimensional variance before the Board of Adjustment. This application type allows for approval of any requested reduction in the dimensional standards but is unlikely to be approved without the applicant demonstrating that there is a hardship in place, or a reason why the land will not allow for the standard to be met.

Administrative Relief

The application must qualify for and meet the criteria within the Section 5.5.1 of the Code (https://library.municode.com/co/el_paso_county/codes/land_development_code?nodeId=CH5USDIST_5.5PRREDEDIST ). This is an administrative approval process which generally takes 1-2 months to approve, depending on the number of submittals required to resolve comments. The application fee for Administrative Relief is $587.

Here is an overview of the special use process:

-Notify the adjacent property owners of what is being requested either in person by getting their signature or by certified mail (you may do a combination of certified mail and in person signatures)

-Submit the complete submission online via EDARP

-Our department will send your submission to outside agencies (e.g., El Paso County Health, Fire Department, Enumerations) who will have up to 3 weeks to review the submission items. Any comments received from the outside agencies will be forwarded onto you via EDARP as soon as they are received.

-Prior to receiving approval, we will send a secondary notice to the adjacent property owners notifying them of when we anticipate the decision to be made and allowing them to submit comments or questions to our Department.

-After the initial review period the planner will send you a re-submission request via EDARP for any items identified by the outside agencies needing revision.

-You will amend the applicable application documents and resubmit via EDARP once you believe you have addressed all comments provided.

-Our department will send your revised items to the outside agencies who identified issues so that they may verify that the comments have been addressed. The review period may be reduced to 2 weeks if the comments were minimal.

-This resubmission and rereview cycle will be repeated as many times as necessary until all comments have been addressed.

*NOTE: there is an additional fee for reviews beyond the 3rd review.

-Once all comments have been addressed the PCD Director will approve/deny the request. The PCD Director may elevate the item to a public hearing at their sole discretion.

Below is an overview of the submission items and a brief explanation of what each item is. Please refer to the application packet as well as the applicable section of the Code for additional information.
– Application: a 2-page document, accessible on the El Paso County Planning and Community Development website, which requires you to fill in the property information as well as all applicable contact information and sign.
– Adjacent Property Owner Notification: Please see the application packet which provides information regarding who is considered adjacent, a sheet for the adjacent property owner signatures, as well as a template for the letter to be used for certified mail. For each adjacent property owner you must provide either their signature or a certified mail stub proving that you sent them a letter via certified mail as well as the letter that was mailed.
– Legal Description: this is the legal description of the parcel that can be found on the assessor website or your deed.
– Letter of Intent: the letter should include what you are requesting, why you are requesting it, how the request meets the Administrative Relief criteria (below)
– Vicinity/Location Map: map showing where the property is located in relation to major intersections. Include north arrow and scale.
– Site Plan: The site plan will need to include the existing structures, well, septic, driveway, use areas, any mitigation measures being proposed, etc. Here is a link to examples of what we require on a site plan: https://planningdevelopment.elpasoco.com/planning-development-questions/#1516896261084-57b50b8a-9a9f

The administrative relief application may not be submitted without initial discussions with the planning staff to determine that your specific proposal qualifies for such an application. If you wish to learn more about the process or wish to move forward with making a submission please call our main line at (719) 520-6300 or send us an email at plnweb@elpasoco.com and you will be connected to a member of our planning staff.

Board of Adjustment

Alternatively, if more than 20% relief is required in order to make reasonable use of the property, then a Board of Adjustment application is requried. Please note that it is required that a Board of Adjustment application meets all criteria outlined in Section 5.5.2 of the Code, which is more stringent than the administrative relief criteria (particularly demonstrating undue hardship, like topography). Please also note that as this is not an administrative process, approval by the Board of Adjustment is not guaranteed and that application fees are non-refundable.

Fees:

  • $1037 application fee for Board of Adjustment; and
  • $437 Early Assistance Meeting (required for a BOA application)

You must begin the BOA process with an Early Assistance meeting (EA). If you wish to learn more about the process or wish to move forward with making a submission please call our main line at (719) 520-6300 or send us an email at plnweb@elpasoco.com and you will be connected to a member of our planning staff.