Development Moratoria – Fort Collins, CO

In 1994, several large chains announced plans to locate in Fort Collins. The city adopted a six-month moratorium on development of stores larger than 80,000 square feet. The city used the time to review the design, transportation, and other planning issues posed by big box retailers, and to make changes to its planning and zoning rules.


WHEREAS,the City of Fort Collins (“the City”), as a home rule municipality, has broad constitutional and statutory powers to regulate the use of land within its City limits; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to said authority, and the provisions of Article II, Section 5, of the City Charter, the City has adopted certain policies, plans, ordinances and resolutions pertaining to the development of property within the City, including the City’s Comprehensive Plan and the Land Development Guidance System; and

WHEREAS, the Goals and Objectives element of the City’s Comprehensive Plan directs the City to: (1) develop a land use plan which will indicate preferred locations for the various types of economic activities within the City; (2)protect the character of new and existing residential neighborhoods against intrusive and disruptive surrounding development; (3) ensure that future development in the City will be accomplished so as to create the least degradation of the environment; and (4) promote better integration of land development and transportation facilities; and

WHEREAS,the City had recently received applications and/or informal proposals for various retail “superstores” to be located within the City, which superstores present unique land use planning concerns by reason of the bulk, size and scale of such stores, especially with regard to the aesthetic and transportation impacts of the same; and

WHEREAS,considerable study is needed to determine the appropriate location for such uses and the kinds of criteria that should be adopted to regulate the design of same, as well as the kind of infrastructure requirements that may be necessary to accommodate such uses.


Section 1. That the Council of the City of Fort Collins hereby makes the following findings of fact:

(a) That the City has recently been presented with development proposals for large, general and special merchandise stores, sometimes known as “superstores.”

(b) That the bulk, size and scale of such superstores present unusual land use concerns for the City, especially with regard to the aesthetic and transportation impacts of such uses.

(c) That considerable study is needed in order to determine the appropriate location for such land uses, the kind of design criteria which should be used to mitigate the visual impacts of the same, and the kind of infrastructure requirements which should be imposed to offset the parking and traffic impacts of such developments.

(d) That the development of superstores, in the absence of appropriate regulatory guidelines, may have an irreversible negative impact upon the City.

(e) That the City has not heretofore studied the impacts of superstores, nor has it established locational criteria to ensure that such stores are developed in harmony with the City’s Comprehensive Plan, and, particularly, the Goals and Objectives element thereof.

(f) That the integration of land development and transportation facilities goal of the City’s Comprehensive Plan requires that the City study and develop criteria for the purpose of regulating the design of multi-modal transportation access to any superstores that might choose to locate in the City.

(g) That it is necessary in the public interest to delay, for a reasonable period of time, the processing of any applications for such stores, to ensure that the design, development and location of the same are consistent with the long-term planning objectives of the City.

(h) That, during the above mentioned period of time, the City should: (1) analyze and determine the type of vehicular trips that are generated by superstores to determine whether such trips are predominately regional, community or neighborhood in nature, in order to establish criteria for the appropriate location of such stores from a transportation standpoint; (2) develop appropriate criteria for regulating the size, architectural design and functional aspects of surrounding development; (3) develop criteria regarding the establishment of parking requirements for superstores to ensure that an adequate supply of parking spaces remains available City-wide to serve the overall street, highway and parking systems in the City; and (4) establish criteria regarding the regulation of the truck traffic that is needed to supply and service such superstores, to ensure that such regulations are in harmony with the transportation provisions of the Goals and Objectives element of the City’s Comprehensive Plan.

Section2. That, as of the effective date of this Ordinance, no Overall Development Plans, preliminary planned unit development applications, applications for site plan review or building permits for superstores within the City will be processed by City staff or reviewed by the City’s Planning and Zoning Board.

Section 3. That, for the purposes of this Ordinance, “superstore” shall mean any building, or combination of buildings, intended to be used principally fore the purpose of retail sales and marketing, which exceed(s) eighty thousand (80,000) square feet in size, and for which a single certificate of occupancy would be issued under Section 29-5 of the City Code.

Section 4. That the provisions of the Ordinance shall not affect the processing of applications or the issuance of building permits for uses permitted under planned unit developments or site plan reviews that have received preliminary or final approval by the City on or before the effective date of this Ordinance.

Section 5. That City staff is hereby directed to develop recommendations to the Planning and Zoning Board and the City Council, within the succeeding six (6) month period, pertaining to the location, size, quantity, type and design of superstores within the City and to make specific recommendations regarding any proposed amendments to the provisions of the Comprehensive Plan, the Land Development Guidance System, the zoning ordinance and/or the subdivision ordinances of the City as they relate to such superstores.

Section 6. That the provisions of this Ordinance are temporary in nature and are intended to be replaced by subsequent legislative enactment. The temporary suspension of the processing of applications for large retail and merchandising establishments within the City as specified in this Ordinance shall terminate as of January 29, 1995.



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Stacy Mitchell

Stacy Mitchell is co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and directs its Independent Business Initiative, which produces research and designs policy to counter concentrated corporate power and strengthen local economies.