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Key County Documents

County documents are relied upon by planners when considering applications for development.  In this section, find the following:

  • The "Big Three": The three key planning and code documents that are the bedrock of decision-making (see below on this page)

  • Maps that are used in planning and decisions

  • Parts of the planning and code documents that are frequently cited in the County's review of development applications

Boulder County Comprehensive Plan (BCCP)   

[website]   [download pdf]

  • Provides overall vision/guiding principles for land use in Boulder County.

  • Contains the important maps used in decision-making (significant agricultural lands, view protection corridors, environmental conservation areas, and many others)

  • From the County's website:  

The BCCP was developed to respond to the widely accepted principle that the myriad of future land use decisions affecting the county’s lands should be made in a coordinated and responsible manner.

The BCCP philosophy is that:

  • Growth should be channeled to municipalities.

  • Agricultural lands should be protected.

  • Preservation of our environmental and natural resources should be a high priority in making land use decisions.

Boulder County Land Use Code (LUC) 

[website]  [download pdf] 

  • While the BCCP is the "guidance," the Land Use Code gives the more specific "rules."

  • The LUC contains 19 detailed "Articles."  The most relevant Articles to any given application (docket) will depend on the application. The County Planning department is very helpful in providing guidance on this.

  • Like the BCCP, the LUC references several maps used in decisions.

  • From the County's website:

The Boulder County Land Use Code is enacted to protect and promote the health, safety, and general welfare of the present and future inhabitants of Boulder County, and to guide future growth, development, and distribution of land uses within Boulder County. The Land Use Code plays a large role in determining how unincorporated Boulder County will look in the future by the way it guides new construction and development today. The Land Use Code applies to all land within the unincorporated areas of Boulder County, not in cities or towns.

The Land Use Code is a “living” document, and updates and amendments are made as needed.

Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan (BVCP)   

[website]   [download pdf]  

  • The BVCP applies to the City of Boulder and some unincorporated areas of Boulder County (see map). 

  • It covers some but not all of Boulder County, and does not cover other municipalities like Lafayette and Louisville. It was developed by Boulder city and Boulder County officials.

  • Like the broader BCCP, it guides long-range land use planning, review of development proposals, and other projects that affect the Boulder Valley.

  • This is a crucial time, as it is being updated in 2024-2025.

  • From the BVCP website:

The aim of the first plan approved in 1977 was to concentrate urban development in the city and preserve the rural character of lands outside the city service area. Since then, the plan has evolved to also do the following:

  • State the community's core values, commitments and long-term vision

  • Guide decisions about growth, development, preservation, environmental protection, economic development, affordable housing, culture and arts, urban design, neighborhood character, and transportation

  • Inform decisions about how services such as police, fire, water utilities and others are provided

  • Define the desired land use pattern for the Boulder Valley by establishing the location, type and intensity of development and setting land use designations

  • Offer a starting point as the community develops strategies and policies to confront emerging issues and challenges

  • Serve as a foundation for master plans created by city and county departments

  • Be consulted during site and development reviews for proposed new construction

Although these are the "Big Three," you'll find many other documents on the websites linked above.

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