SECTION 7.0 SPECIAL AND UNIQUE LAND USES
- The purpose of this section
is to address some of the land uses which are ancillary to traditional
residential, commercial, office, industrial and agricultural
categories. The land application review process for these types
of uses can be controversial, and may rely significantly upon
one or more elements of the County Master Plan for special guidance.
For this reason, a separate policy section has been devoted to
this generally defined group of uses. However, one important
clarification and one distinction should be made here. The clarification
is that most of the uses discussed in the Section are also addressed
to varying degrees in other Sections of the Policy Plan or as
a separate Master Plan element. The distinction is that the term
"Special or unique land use" should not be confused
with "use subject to special review" which has a much
more limited and defined zoning-related application. This section
is organized under the five headings of general policies, institutional uses, solid
waste, mining, towers and transmission facilities, and other
- General Policies
- The list of uses which
might be considered as ancillary to traditional land use categories
is quite extensive. Several of these present planning challenges
on a fairly consistent basis. These use categories include but
are not limited to
uses such as religious
institutions, schools, and governmental buildings
- solid waste sites and
- mineral extraction and
- transmission facilities
- different combinations
of residential and non-residential uses on the same property
- commercial stables, riding
facilities, and kennels
- special population homes
and care facilities
- additional dwelling units
where only one is normally allowed
- recreation facilities
including golf courses, racetracks, shooting ranges, and campgrounds
- off premise signs
- home-based businesses
- Some of these uses, such
as elementary schools, churches and second dwelling units occur
widely across the County. Others are likely to be unique one-of-a-kind
situations. What often unifies these uses is the special attention
they need in the planning process.
- As defined in this document,
institutional land uses are identified as those associated with
public or quasi-public functions. Included in this category are
religious institutions because these often involve large public
assemblies. Institutional uses
have widely varying scales, service areas, location requirements
and potential impacts.
- Solid Waste
- In El Paso County, solid
waste collection, transfer and disposal services are provided
primarily through the private sector. Major facilities are locally
permitted , but are required to undergo a State Health Department
review and to meet minimum State and federal standards. Over
the past few decades, more stringent design and monitoring standards
have combined to greatly reduce the number of solid waste disposal
sites. Presently, there are only three (3) major landfills in
the County under two (2) separate ownerships. However, with the
recent approvals of new or expanded sites, the combined capacity
of these municipal solid waste
facilities is approximately one hundred (100) years. This calculation
of capacity assumes only limited importation of wastes from outside
of the County. Waste reduction, recycling and other diversion
programs are also largely operated within the private sector.
These are augmented by County programs supported through a fee
charged at the point of disposal.
- El Paso County currently
has an up-to-date topical element of the County Master Plan,
entitled, Updated Master Plan for the Extraction of Commercial
Mineral Deposits (Mineral Extraction Plan). This document
allows for compliance with a 1973 State law which requires the
more populous counties of the State to identify and maintain
reasonable access to mineral deposits of significant commercial
value. The Mineral Extraction Plan also provides policy guidance
which may be used in the review of proposed new or expanded mining
operations. Mining in the County is primarily limited to extraction
of sand, gravel and crushed-rock aggregate, used locally for
various public and private new construction and maintenance purposes.
Mining in El Paso County is allowed in all zone districts subject
to Special Use approval. Since the mid-1970's, mining operations
have been required to obtain and adhere to a reclamation permit
administered through the State Division of Minerals and Geology.
- Towers, Transmission
Facilities and Related Uses
- Within the unincorporated
areas are many commercial or private communications towers ranging
in height from about fifty (50) to over one thousand (1,000)
feet. By far, the largest single concentration of towers is located
on top of Cheyenne Mountain. Others are distributed around the
County. Towers are ordinarily located at or near topographic
high points in order to maximize their range and effectiveness.
The County is served by hundreds of miles of major transmission
facilities which include, but are not limited to, water, sewer
and natural gas lines, petroleum pipelines and electric transmission
- These linear facilities
may be associated with various fixed facilities including water
tanks, sewage treatment plants, and electric substations. Transmission
facilities are often, but not always associated with public or
- These are addressed more
specifically in Sections 10.0 Water and Wastewater, and 12.0
Other Utilities and Services of this Plan. Section 35.11 of the
El Paso County Land Development Code includes specific regulations
and standards which govern many commercial and private towers.
As discussed in Section 15.0 Land Development Regulations of
this Plan, review of the location of many public utility transmission
facilities by the Planning Commission is allowed through C.R.S.
30-28-110. In case of disapproval, the Planning Commissions
decision may be appealed to the Board of County Commissioners
or the Public Utilities Commission as applicable.
- ISSUE 7.1 Effectively
Plan for Special and Unique
- A common characteristic
of special or unique uses is that they tend to be difficult to
accommodate within conventional zoning which tends to categorize
uses. For example, most zone districts allow for little or no
combination of residential and non-residential uses on the same
property, making it difficult to accommodate uses such as home-based
businesses or caretaker functions. However, if no constraints
were put on these combinations, a variety of adverse impacts
including inadequate facilities, diminution of property values
or health and safety problems could occur.
- Often the issue is one
of perceived precedent, where, for example, one additional dwelling
unit or business use in a neighborhood may have only a minimal
impact, but the aggregate impact of several such uses may have
an adverse effect; however, land use decisions are not precedent
setting, as each is reviewed and decided on the merits and factual
circumstances of each case. In order to address these types of
special uses, approvals are often limited by a number of conditions.
This, in turn, becomes an administrative challenge, as there
may be no effective way of ensuring compliance with conditions.
Special and unique land uses
tend to become concentrated in areas which are transitional in
nature, and which often have limited public services and facilities
available. Daycare centers present a special challenge because
of their abundance and the fact that they are often located in
otherwise residential neighborhoods.
- Another characteristic
which distinguishes special
and unique land uses is that a number of them fall into the
locally-unwanted category. For example, the need for conveniently
located trash transfer stations
or transmission towers may be regionally recognized, but this
does not eliminate what may be strident local opposition.
- Goal 7.1 Reasonably accommodate unique and
special uses which provide value to the greater community and
which can be made consistent with surrounding uses.
- Policy 7.1.1
- Accommodate unique combinations
of land uses (such as employment and residential uses) on the
same property if it can be demonstrated that aggregate impacts
will be limited, adequate facilities and services will be available
and the use will be compatible with the character of the surrounding
- Policy 7.1.2
- Consider the future combined
impact of potential additional land use requests when considering
individual applications for special or unique land uses.
- Policy 7.1.3
- Allow for the accommodation
of daycare centers in or adjacent to residential areas and employment
centers provided that they are designed and operated in a manner
which satisfactorily addresses issues of safety, compatibility
and facility and service availability.
- Policy 7.1.4
- Accommodate home-based
businesses which do not detract from the character of residential
areas, do not create substantial impacts on facilities and services,
and do not require the imposition of conditions of approvals
which will be difficult to enforce.
- ISSUE 7.2 Plan for
- With the exception of
public schools, many of those uses which are categorized as "institutional"
are often not fully addressed through the privately-initiated
land use planning process. In many cases, sites are not set aside
for such uses as college campuses, private schools, churches
and other religious institutions, hospitals, governmental and
utility installations, and cemeteries. The land use impacts of
these uses are extremely variable, and can range from being fairly
benign to being very substantial. For example, traditional small
churches and related religious institutions which conduct activities
of a limited scope and duration may have limited land use impacts
when compared with neighboring residential uses. However, larger
facilities with multiple functions and activities of more extended
duration may have cumulative impacts which would make these uses
incompatible in certain areas. Institutional
uses may also contribute value to surrounding areas in a
number of ways in addition to their primary use and function.
Examples might include unique architectural character, open space
preservation, provision of services such as day care and off
hours parking and meeting facilities.
- Goal 7.2
- Promote comprehensive
planning for major institutional land uses.
- Policy 7.2.1
- Encourage the designation
of appropriate sites for institutional land uses through the
Sketch Plan process.
- Policy 7.2.2
- Recognize the need to
plan for and evaluate requests for institutional land uses on
a project and site-specific basis.
- Policy 7.2.3
- Allow for the reasonable
accommodation of neighborhood-scale institutional
uses in all areas of the County.
- Policy 7.2.4
- Allow for religious institutions
as a permitted use in all zone districts provided that associated
uses and building style are compatible with the neighboring character
and that facilities and services are or will be available.
- Policy 7.2.5
- Discourage the location
of major institutional uses
in predominantly residential areas unless these uses are adequately
screened and buffered, and potential traffic impacts are fully
- ISSUE 7.3 Promote comprehensive
solid waste management
- El Paso County does not
have an overall solid waste management plan. However, in many
key areas of collection, disposal, transfer, special
waste handling and recycling, the system appears to be functioning
well. Planning challenges in the future may include management
of scrap tires, illegal dumping, special
waste handling, the potential for importation of wastes from
outside of the County, addressing hazardous waste and recycling
in an economically effective manner, and dealing with the implications
of reduced market competition. Currently, it is not legally possible
to prohibit the importation of wastes from outside of the County.
Due to favorable geology it is also possible that El Paso County
could be considered for siting of a hazardous waste disposal
facility in the future.
- Goal 7.3 Promote an integrated, effective, and environmentally
sensitive market-driven approach to solid waste management within
El Paso County.
- Policy 7.3.1
- Develop, adopt, and maintain
a comprehensive solid waste management plan for the County.
- Policy 7.3.2
- Encourage waste reduction
through a combination of careful planning, source reduction,
recovery and recycling.
- Policy 7.3.3
- Specifically encourage
the recycling of yard and other clean organic wastes in the County.
- Policy 7.3.4
- Allow for the reasonable
accommodation of land uses which respond to technical and economic
changes in the solid waste management industry.
- Policy 7.3.5
- Encourage land development
and construction techniques which limit the production of solid
waste and promote recycling.
- Policy 7.3.6
- Reasonably accommodate
uses and facilities which will result in the beneficial use of
materials which would otherwise end up in the waste stream.
- Policy 7.3.7
- Protect the Countys
legal authority with respect to the review and siting of waste
facilities and licensing of operators.
- Issue 7.4 Allow for
Environmentally Sensitive Mining Activities
- Mining is an especially
important County planning issue because most of this activity
occurs within unincorporated areas. As a general rule of thumb,
the County generates a per capita demand of approximately 8-10
tons of sand and gravel each year. In an average year, this demand
is fairly evenly distributed between new construction and maintenance
of existing facilities. Therefore, the need for mining is not
tied completely to new development resulting from population
or employment growth. Because aggregates have a high bulk-to-value
ratio, it is important to have conveniently located sources in
order to control product cost. Location is also important from
a material quality standpoint. As aggregate product quality standards
generally become more stringent, the options for available sources
- While there are numerous
potential impacts associated with mining and mineral processing
activities, the principal concerns ordinarily have to do with
general land use compatibility, truck traffic and minimization
of adverse visual impacts. Because many of the major and more
visible mining operations in the County predate current regulations,
issues of concern often have to be addressed through non-regulatory
- Goal 7.4 Permit mineral extraction and
processing activities in the County in a manner which allows
for preservation of significant commercial deposits, minimization
of adverse visual and other environmental impacts, economical
resource use and consideration of other planning issues.
- Policy 7.4.1
- Allow for the economical
extraction of the commercial mineral resources necessary for
the development and maintenance of El Paso County.
- Policy 7.4.2
- The County should continue
to cooperate in extra-regulatory efforts such as the Enhanced
Mining Reclamation Program, directed toward minimizing the adverse
impacts of existing mining operations.
- Policy 7.4.3
- Revise and maintain the
data associated with the Countys Master Plan for the
Extraction of Commercial Mineral Deposits so that it will
remain an effective tool for both the preservation of significant
deposits and the review of new mining applications.
- ISSUE 7.5 Minimize
Impacts of Towers, Transmission Facilities and Related Facilities
- There is a demand for
a variety of communications towers and above-ground or buried
transmission facilities to serve the needs of all County residents.
Among these are radio, television and microwave towers, water,
sewer, gas, electric, telephone, cable TV and other lines, as
well as a variety of non-linear facilities such as power plants,
storage areas and treatment facilities. The location of these
lines and facilities is often governed by geographic factors
such as the need to respond to topography, make linear connections
or serve defined areas. These facilities often have to be located
outside of designated industrial areas and in areas without good
access to emergency and other necessary services. In many cases,
the visual impacts of these uses may be quite significant. There
may also be concerns with other factors such as safety, noise,
water quality, odor, or general air quality.
- Goal 7.5 Allow for those towers, transmission
lines and related facilities which provide a benefit to County
residents in a manner which balances considerations of economics,
equity, and environmental sensitivity and provide for the equitable
compensation to private land owners for impacts caused by these
- Policy 7.5.1
- Encourage the multiple
use of utility sites and corridors where feasible and appropriate.
- Policy 7.5.2
- Support the development
and adoption of limited HB
1041 regulations for the purpose of providing the County
with the authority necessary to directly address the location
and land use impacts of public utility structures such as pipelines
and electric transmission facilities.
- Note: more specific and
comprehensive policies pertaining to mining and mineral processing
facilities are included in the Countys separate "Mineral