Adams County
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Adams County Planning and Development

In This Section

  • Planning Process

  • Land Use Categories

  • Agricultural Districts

  • Additional Information

Adams County’s Comprehensive Plan provides goals, policies, and a future land use plan for guiding the physical development of the County. The Plan will be used to assist the Planning Commission, Board of County Commissioners, and staff as decisions are made regarding land use applications, capital improvement planning, and regional coordination efforts with other jurisdictions and agencies.

Planning Process

In May 1996, the Adams County Board of County Commissioners initiated the development of a new Comprehensive Land Use Plan for the County. The intent was to ensure that citizens, property owners, and municipal officials had the opportunity to participate in the planning process.

The planning process began with three public meetings, two held in the western part of the county and one held at the Front Range Airport. These public meetings yielded a list of issues, concerns, and goals from interested citizens that helped direct the work of staff and consultants and shape the plan.

Two committees were established to provide input and oversight throughout the process. A Technical Advisory Committee, consisting of city and County planners and other staff, service agency staff, and development industry representatives, met on a monthly basis to review various aspects of the plan as it was developed. A Policy Advisory Committee, comprised of elected officials from municipalities within the County, as well as County Commissioners, met on a periodic basis to review and discuss policy implications of the Plan. In addition, the planning team met regularly with the County Planning Commission to review various aspects of the Plan as it developed.

Finally, a number of public meetings were held to present and take comments on the plan. In addition, written and telephone comments were solicited. A number of revisions have been made to the plan in response to the comments received.

Land Use Categories

Residential Areas

Residential areas are designated for single and multiple family housing, typically at urban densities of one dwelling per half acre or greater. These areas are intended to provide for development of residential neighborhoods with a variety of housing types, with adequate urban services and transportation facilities. Urban residential areas may include supporting neighborhood commercial uses designed to serve the needs of nearby residents.

Estate Residential

Estate Residential areas are designated for single family housing at a lower densities, typically no greater than 1 unit per 2 ½ acres and compatible uses such as schools and parks. Under certain circumstances, net densities for Estate Residential areas may be as low as one unit per acre, provided that development is clustered so as to preserve a significant amount of open space.

In general, Estate Residential areas are intended to meet some of the demand for rural lifestyles in the County. Estate Residential projects typically should be located in areas that will limit the negative fiscal impact on the County and other service providers. For this reason, Estate Residential development should only be located in specified areas, as designated on the Land Use Map (unless such development may be extended in accordance with criteria stated elsewhere in this Plan).

Agricultural Land Uses

Agricultural land uses include farming, grazing, agricultural production industries, and very low density residential.


The areas that have been identified as agricultural are those that are not expected to develop, except for limited areas of very low density residential at densities of 1 dwelling per 35 acres, for the foreseeable future. These areas are typically characterized by a lack of urban services

Agricultural Districts: A-3, A-2, and A-1.

Agricultural Districts:

1. A-3: Land in this District is primarily in holdings of at least 35 acres for dryland or irrigated farming, pasturage, or other related food production uses.

2. A-2: Land in this District is for rural subdivisions of at least 10 acres in size where adequate provisions are made for internal and external roads and access, water and sewer facilities, for fire protection and other emergency services, and for other public services and utilities. Farming uses are permitted, including the cultivation of land and the keeping of a limited amount of animals.

3. A-1: Exclusively a rural single family dwelling District where the minimum lot area for a homesite is dependent on the availability of public water and sewer facilities, and other necessary utilities and services. Limited farming uses are permitted including the cultivation of land and the keeping of a limited amount of animals for individual homeowners use.

General Requirements - Agricultural Districts:

1. Minimum frontage width at building line - 150' with well and/or septic tanks; 100' with public water and sewer facilities.

2. Minimum lot size for a single family principal dwelling:
A-3: 35 acres
A-2: 10 acres
A-1: 2-1/2 acres with individual wells and septic tanks; 1 acre with public water and individual septic tanks; 1 acre with individual wells and public sewer; 1/2 acre with public water and sewer. In addition, on previously existing tracts of land in A-3 and A-2, that were created prior to July 1, 1972, construction of a single family dwelling shall be allowed subject to the minimum requirements of the A-1 Zone District and the Subdivision Regulations. For new subdivisions with gross lot sizes greater than 2-1/2 acres, the land up to the centerline in newly dedicated public rights-of-way for local streets may be counted toward the total lot size requirement, subject to a favorable recommendation of the Tri-County District Health Department concerning specific lot configurations, topography, soil conditions, and water table heights. The maximum amount of land in a right-of-way which can be counted towards a lot shall be 1/2 acre (minimum net lot size is 2 acres). Setback requirements shall be determined by the right-of-way lines and no construction, including septic systems, may take place in the right-of-way except by approval of the Board of County Commissioners.

3. Minimum setback for a dwelling:

A-3 and A-2 - Front - 50'; Side - 20' one side, 10' other side. (50' from street on corner lots); Rear - 20'.

A-1 - Front - 30' (50' on state highway or arterial street); Side - 17' one side, 5' other side (30' from street on corner lot if local street, 50' from street on state highway or arterial street); Rear - 20'.

4. Minimum setback for other detached buildings:

Front - 10' to rear of front of dwelling or 100' whichever is lesser (attached garage - same as dwelling setback). When within 6' of other dwellings, the accessory building shall be constructed as an attached structure, Side - 25, Side - 15' - Aircraft Hanger at an approved private airport. Rear - 10'.

5. Minimum setback of an agricultural building (other than garage) from on-site residence - 50'.

6. Maximum height of dwellings and garages - 25'; other agricultural buildings - 25' if subdivided, 70' if unsubdivided.

7. Maximum total size of all accessory buildings as defined in Section 2.201, unless the accessory building is an aircraft hanger at an approved private airport and is utilized as such. Maximum size for an aircraft hanger shall be 4000 square feet.

A-3, A-2, A-1 (unsubdivided): No maximum
A-1, well and septic: 6% of lot area including dwelling
A-1, public water or sewer: 7.5% of lot area including dwelling
A-1, public water and sewer: 12.5% of lot area including dwelling

8. A maximum of one mobile home of 1,200 square feet shall be permitted for each 40 acre parcel where allowed as a use by right.

9. A maximum of one single-family dwelling is permitted on each individual lot.

FencingFencing and Retaining Walls, Agricultural Districts:

1. All fences and walls more than 42 inches in height require a building permit.

2. Any retaining wall over 2 feet in height shall require preparation by a professional engineer as a condition for a building permit, except where waived by the Building Inspections Section.

3. Except in unsubdivided agricultural areas, no external boundary electric fence shall be allowed except by Special Use permit.

4. In subdivided agricultural areas no fence of any type more than 42 inches in height shall be permitted between the front setback line and a front property line.

5. Except as provided in (4) above, the maximum height of any fence within an Agricultural District is 96 inches, which may include 4 strands of barbed wire forming the top 18 inches. Fencing consisting of only barbed wire is allowed.

Additional Information

Information in this section was acquired from the Adams County Planning and Development Website:


Department of Planning & Development
4430 S. Adams County Pkwy
First Floor, Ste. W2000A
Brighton, CO  80601

C.A.R.T - A Manual for Success, 2nd Edition

Complete information on this and many other Small Acreage topics are now available in
C.A.R.T - A Manual for Success, 2nd Edition
Cart manual
To obtain a copy of this book please contact the Adams County Small Acreage Coordinator 303.637.8157



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