City Council approves RetoolCOS on second reading

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Dave Donelson was the sole city councilor to vote against RetoolCOS' passing, twice. (Screenshot via City Council livestream)

Colorado Springs City Council officially passed RetoolCOS, a rewrite of the city’s zoning code, on Feb. 14, upon its second reading. It will next go to Mayor John Suthers for his signature.

The ordinance is a “modern and more user-friendly approach to zoning” and development regulations, says a release from the city. RetoolCOS replaces the old Chapter 7 of city code, which had governed development since the late 1990s.

RetoolCOS will “make it easier for property and business owners to understand and use” city land regulations, says Peter Wysocki, the city’s planning and community development director, in the release.

“The new code will help implement the vision for the City established in PlanCOS and help ensure we are positioned to address future growth, redevelop aging and functionally obsolete sites, and enhance existing neighborhoods,” Wysocki says.

Before a final vote on the second reading, though, Councilor Dave Donelson, who represents District 1, attempted to remove a requirement that residents have “preserved standing” — i.e., participate in the public process for approving development plans — in order to maintain the right to appeal a development (Donelson also argued against the requirement on RetoolCOS’ first reading.)

He pushed for the change at the request of constituents who he says are distrustful and believe it is an attempt to cut them out of the development process.

Under the current zoning code, anyone may appeal a development plan, whether they live in the city or not. RetoolCOS dictates that only people who live within 1,000 feet of a planned development, or those who live within 3 miles and have made public comment or been involved in the public process for the development plan previously — what’s called “preserved standing” — may appeal.

“I think this is another issue of trust with citizens,” Donelson said at the Feb. 14 hearing. “Some of them are suspicious that we’re trying to limit the process, shrink the process down, make it harder for them to appeal, which this would.”

But his proposal failed 7-2 — At-large Councilor Bill Murray joined Donelson in the vote. So, the new appeal requirements will stay. Donelson ended up being the only councilor to vote against passing RetoolCOS in its entirety (it passed 8-1.)

RetoolCOS will go into effect on June 5, to allow time for the Planning and Development Department to train staff on the new rules. We’ve covered major changes in several articles, which can be viewed here, here and here (although some have now changed with City Council amendments.) The final draft of the new ordinance can be found here.

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