Cirque Meadows by Adam Johnson


Types of Setbacks

There are several types of setback requirements. These include setbacks required by your zoning district, setbacks from state and federal highways and county roads, setbacks from streams, creeks, and rivers (waterways), and setbacks required by other restrictions placed on your property such as easements or building envelopes.

  • Zoning District Setbacks

    Each zoning district in the county lists minimum required setbacks from streets/roads and from side and rear property lines. Setbacks are measured from the lot line, nearest edge of road easement or right-of-way, or nearest edge of traveled way, whichever is greater. Street and road setbacks apply to both sides of a street or road, even if that road goes through a lot. Setbacks are also required from certain waterways; see the waterways topic below for more information.

    The Zoning District Setback Table lists setbacks by zone district. Find out the zoning of your property.

  • Highway and County Road Setbacks

    Larimer County Roads - Numbered county roads have setbacks for buildings based on the road's functional classification. These setback distances are greater than the standard street and road setbacks listed in each zoning district.

    Setbacks from Larimer County roads are measured from the original right-of-way centerline as follows:

    Arterial 110 feet
    Major Collector 100 feet
    Minor Collector 70 feet
    Local Numbered County Roads 60 feet

    Please note that the right-of way centerline is not always the center /centerline of a road. If your property is adjacent to a county road, contact the County Engineering Department at (970)498-5700 for county road right-of-way information for your property's location.

    State and Federal Highways - The minimum setback for most state and federal highways in Larimer County is 100 feet from the centerline of the right-of-way or 50 feet from the right-of-way line, whichever is greater. However, for the highways listed below, the minimum setback is 130 feet from the centerline of the right-of-way or 80 feet from the right-of-way line, whichever is greater.

    • U.S. Highway 287 - from Fort Collins city limits south to the Boulder County line
    • Colorado Highway 68 (Harmony Road) - from Interstate 25 west to Highway 287
    • Colorado Highway 14 (Mulberry Street) - from Fort Collins city limits east to Weld County line
    • Colorado Highway 392 - from Interstate Highway 25 east to the Weld County line
    • U.S. Highway 34 - from Morning Drive east to the Weld County line
    • Fort Collins Expressway and those portions of U.S. Highway 287 and Colorado Highway 14 north of Fort Collins city limits that are 4 lanes
    • Colorado Highway 402 - from Loveland city limits east to the Weld County line

    For information about right-of-way for state and federal highways, please contact the Colorado Department of Transportation at (970)353-1232.

  • Waterways (Streams, Creeks and Rivers)

    If there is a stream located on or near your property or even what appears to be a dry gulley, then it is likely that there will be a required setback from that feature.

    Stream, creek and river. Any water course having a source and terminus, banks and channel through which water flows and is identified on a 7.5 minute quadrangle map prepared by the United States Geological Survey as a perennial or intermittent stream.

    A minimum required setback of 100 feet applies to any stream, creek or river identified on a U.S.G.S. (United States Geological Survey) 7.5' quadrangle map. The setback is measured from the centerline of the water course to the closest point of the building. This setback applies to these waterways even if water only flows during certain times of the year or maybe not even every year. Greater setbacks are sometimes required by Land Use Code Section 8.2 (wetlands), Section 8.4 (wildlife), or Section 4.2.1 (floodplains). Contact the Planning Department for more information and to determine whether this setback applies to your property.

  • Other Building Location Restrictions/Requirements

    Your property may have easements, building envelopes, private covenants or other factors that affect building placement. These are different from setbacks, but are still important considerations when determining where a building can be located on your property.

    Easements - An easement is an interest in land owned by another person that entitles the holder of the easement to certain specified uses within the easement area. A common example is a utility easement that allows a utility company to locate and maintain their facilities on private property within the easement's boundaries. Another example is an access easement that allows someone the right to cross another person's land in order to get to their property. Information about easements may be shown or noted on subdivision plats or may be found in property records or title insurance documents for a property. Note - No part of any building or structure may extend into or above any easement.

    Building Envelopes- A building envelope is an area within the boundaries of a lot within which buildings or structures must be placed. Sometimes building envelopes are created during the platting or creation of a subdivision. There are a variety of reasons that may have led to a requirement to have building envelopes, including clustering of building sites or keeping residences within a minimum distance of a fire hydrant. In cases where a building envelope boundary extends to a property line, the minimum zoning setbacks will still apply within that area. Please contact the Planning Department for specific information about building envelopes.

    Architectural Features- The Land Use Code allows some leeway in setback requirements for certain parts of buildings (architectural features such as cornices, canopies, eaves, awnings, bay windows, window wells, cantilevered walls, chimneys and mechanical equipment). These architectural features may extend two feet into a required setback. However, in all cases a minimum setback of five feet for any structural component or architectural feature must be maintained from all property lines. Note - No part of any building, including the architectural features mentioned above, may extend outside a designated building envelope. No part of any building, including the architectural features mentioned above may extend into or above any easement.

    Porches and decks- Note- No porch or deck may extend into or above an easement or outside a designated building envelope.

    • Open, unenclosed, uncovered porches or decks, located at grade have no setback restriction.
    • Open, unenclosed, uncovered porches or decks, with the finished floor elevation 30 inches or less above the finished grade, must maintain a distance of five feet from all lot lines.
    • All porches and decks with a finished floor elevation greater than 30 inches must meet the applicable building setbacks.

    Structures - All structures must maintain a distance of five feet from all lot lines. Structures may be located outside a building envelope unless restricted to the building envelope as part of an approved development. Note - No part of any structure may extend into or above any easement.

    What is a Structure? Anything constructed or erected and that requires a permanent location on or in the ground or attachment to something having a permanent location on or in the ground, but not including fences, retaining walls four feet or less in height, irrigation facilities, poles, lines, cables or other transmission or distribution facilities of public utilities. Landscape and associated nonliving ornamental landscape features or materials, such as rocks and edging, are excluded from this definition.

    Fences - Fences for individual residential uses must not exceed 8 feet in height if located in the required street and road setback. The height of fences is generally measured from ground level at the base of the fence. The height of fences built on berms or retaining walls must include the height of the berm or wall. Note: Any fence over 6 feet requires a permit from the County Building Department.

  • Maximum Structure Height

    Height. The measurement from the average elevation of the finished grade to the highest point on a structure.

    Another topic that comes up when building on property is the maximum height that is allowed for buildings and structures. While this is not a setback requirement, it is included here as a related topic. The maximum height of structures is 40 feet in all zone districts except as follows:

    RE-1 30 feet
    AP 40 feet for use-by-right and "to-be-determined" for Special Review uses
    PD "to-be-determined" during review process that establishes the PD zone

    See Section 4.9.5 of the Land Use Code for exceptions to the maximum height limits for certain architectural features and structures.

Property owners and citizens are strongly advised to contact the County Planning Department for specific information about setbacks. If you would like more specific information or if you have a question that's not answered here, please contact the Larimer County Planning Department at (970)498-7679 or send us email.

Common Questions:

Additional resources:

Background Image: Cirque Meadows by Adam Johnson. All rights reserved.