Planning for Hazards


Welcome to Manitou Springs Planning for Hazards project webpage! As part of the Plan Manitou master plan process, the City conducted a natural hazard risk assessment. We learned the City is most vulnerable to flooding, geologic hazards, and wildfire. When we shared this information with citizens, they told us they think it is important for the City to apply a range of tools to mitigate natural hazard risk to reduce potential damage to community infrastructure, private property, the environment, and the City’s economy.

PFH Green Box

Plan Manitou includes a range of tools to reduce our hazard risk. One strategy is to mitigate risk by strengthening development regulations. In 2017, Manitou Springs received a grant for technical assistance to update the City’s zoning code and subdivision regulations to reduce risk from wildfire, flood, and geologic hazards. This project is now in its final phase.

The Adoption Draft has now been posted for your review below. The most significant changes are in new Zoning Code Section 18.10.

Project Background

The City’s Planning staff is managing this project, which has been underway since April 2017. A Working Group of City staff and citizen stakeholders was convened to review work products at each stage. The City Planning Commission and City Council were also consulted at each milestone. Here is a project timeline of how we got here:

  • July 2017: Working group met to discuss and prioritize zoning and development tools to reduce hazard risk
  • November 2017: Clarion Associates conducted a detailed analysis of the City’s current subdivision and zoning codes and drafted a Project Approach memo with recommendations to improve existing processes and integrate new approaches
  • February 2018: Planning staff reviewed first draft updates
  • April 2018: First draft code updates presented
  • September 2018: Second draft code updates presented
  • January 2019: Project team was re-engaged under new Planning Director to make revisions to incorporate extensive public and staff input
  • March 2019: Proposed third draft changes presented to the Working Group and joint City Council-Planning Commission work session
  • April 5, 2019: Third draft code updates presented
  • WE ARE HERE: May 1, 2019: Adoption Drafts released

Adoption Draft Highlights

Significant changes have been made since the September draft. 

Here are some highlights of the Adoption Draft:

  • New natural hazards section Zoning 18.10 is simplified, and applicability of requirements is more clear.
  • Wildfire mitigation: Applicability threshold has been raised to be consistent with the Fire Department’s (FD) current review process and staff capacity.
  • Geologic hazards (GH): A tiered approach is proposed so that smaller infill and redevelopment projects are not unnecessarily burdened with cost or delay. A preliminary site evaluation is required for projects over 500 square feet and if hazards are evident, additional evaluation is required.
  • New landscape requirements for the Hillside Low Density Zone were clarified and incorporate wildfire mitigation.
  • Landscape plan requirements for larger developments have been updated to address wildfire mitigation, require more drought-tolerant plantings, and incorporate an alternative procedure to address unique circumstances.
  • The City will adopt a recommended plant list that has been informally used since 2005.

The draft will be brought forward at public hearings with the Planning Commission and City Council. Final adoption is expected in June 2019.

Please Review the Updated Project Schedule Below

Project Schedule

The following is a schedule for the Final Phase of this project. Some dates may be subject to change.

  • March 12, 2019: Working Group #5 - City Council and Planning Commission joint Work Session
  • April 3, 2019: Release of 3rd Draft Code changes
  • April 18, 2019: Community Open House
  • April 24, 2019: Public Comment due regarding 3rd Draft Code changes
  • May 1, 2019: Release of Adoption Draft 
  • May 8, 2019: Public Hearing with Planning Commission
  • May 28, 2019: City Council Work Session
  • June 4, 2019: First Reading at City Council Regular Meeting
  • June 18, 2019: Second Reading/Public Hearing at City Council Regular Meeting

Community Engagement

Community Engagement for this project included community surveys; email updates to solicit comments on drafts; meetings with groups and individuals on request; regular Working Group meetings; open houses; outreach to developers, contractors, and architects; updates to pertinent boards and commissions; and joint work sessions with Council and Planning Commission at each phase.

Project Scope

Planning staff is working with DOLA staff and a consulting team led by Clarion Associates, with support from Acclivity Associates, to facilitate this project. The project extends from April 2017 through June 2018. A working group that includes City staff and stakeholders was convened to guide the direction of the project in Manitou Springs and review work products at each stage of the process. In June, the working group reviewed possible ideas for zoning and other land use tools. The group discussed important criteria, such as the ability to reduce risk, alignment with community goals, and staff capacity, and selected four priority tools for reducing the City’s natural hazard risk. 

The team is currently carefully reviewing the City's existing zoning and subdivision regulations and considering how to update and improve those regulations to reduce risk, which will be documented in an assessment memorandum. Then, the team will clarify the scope and function of each tool; draft updates to the City's zoning and subdivision regulations; revise those drafts based community on feedback; and prepare a final draft for adoption. Staff and team prepared a Community Engagement strategy that includes a survey to obtain early stakeholder feedback; email updates to solicit comments on drafts; meetings with groups and individuals on request; and joint work sessions with Council and Planning Commission at each phase.

Planning for Hazards Work Group