COLORADO VESTED PROPERTY RIGHTS LAW
Colorado Revised Statutes § 24-68-101
24-68-101. Legislative declaration
(1) The general assembly hereby
finds and declares that:
(a) It is necessary and desirable, as a matter of public policy,
to provide for the establishment of vested property rights in order
to ensure reasonable certainty, stability, and fairness in the land
use planning process and in order to stimulate economic growth, secure
the reasonable investment-backed expectations of landowners, and foster
cooperation between the public and private sectors in the area of
land use planning.
(b) The ability of a landowner to obtain a vested property right
after local governmental approval of a site specific development plan
will preserve the prerogatives and authority of local government with
respect to land use matters, while promoting those areas of statewide
concern described in paragraph (a) of this subsection (1).
(c) The establishment of vested property rights will promote the
goals specified in this subsection (1) in a manner consistent with
section 3 of article II of the state constitution, which guarantees
to each person the inalienable right to acquire, possess, and protect
property, and is therefore declared to be a matter of statewide concern.
As used in this article, unless the
context otherwise requires:
(1) "Application" means
a substantially complete application for approval of a site specific
development plan that has been submitted to a local government in compliance
with applicable requirements established by the local government. For
local governments that have provided for the review and approval of
site specific development plans in multiple stages, "application"
means the original application at the first stage in any process that
may culminate in the ultimate approval of a site specific development
(1.5) "Landowner" means
any owner of a legal or equitable interest in real property, and includes
the heirs, successors, and assigns of such ownership interests.
(2) "Local government" means
any county, city and county, city, or town,whether statutory or home
rule, acting through its governing body or any board, commission, or
agency thereof having final approval authority over a site specific
development plan, including without limitation any legally empowered
urban renewal authority.
(3) "Property" means all
real property subject to land use regulation by a local government.
(4)(a) "Site specific development plan" means a plan that
has been submitted to a local government by a landowner or such landowner's
representative describing with reasonable certainty the type and intensity
of use for a specific parcel or parcels of property. Such plan may
be in the form of, but need not be limited to, any of the following
plans or approvals: A planned unit development plan, a subdivision plat,
a specially planned area, a planned building group, a general submission
plan, a preliminary or general development plan, a conditional or special
use plan, a development agreement, or any other land use approval designation
as may be utilized by a local government. What constitutes a site specific
development plan under this article that would trigger a vested property
right shall be finally determined by the local government either pursuant
to ordinance or regulation or upon an agreement entered into by the
local government and the landowner, and the document that triggers such
vesting shall be so identified at the time of its approval.
(b) "Site specific development plan" shall not include
a variance, a preliminary plan as defined in section 30-28-101 (6),
C.R.S., or any of the following:
(I) A sketch plan as defined in section 30-28-101 (8), C.R.S.;
(II) A final architectural plan;
(III) Public utility filings; or
(IV) Final construction drawings and related documents specifying
materials and methods for construction of improvements.
(5) "Vested property right"
means the right to undertake and complete the development and use of
property under the terms and conditions of a site specific development
24-68-102.5. Applications - approval
by local government
(1) Except as otherwise provided in
subsection (2) of this section, an application for approval of a site
specific development plan as well as the approval, conditional approval,
or denial of approval of the plan shall be governed only by the duly
adopted laws and regulations in effect at the time the application is
submitted to a local government. For purposes of this section, "laws
and regulations" includes any zoning law of general applicability
adopted by a local government as well as any zoning or development regulations
that have previously been adopted for the particular parcel described
in the plan and that remain in effect at the time of the application
for approval of the plan.
(2) Notwithstanding the limitations
contained in subsection (1) of this section, a local government may
adopt a new or amended law or regulation when necessary for the immediate
preservation of public health and safety and may enforce such law or
regulation in relation to applications pending at the time such law
or regulation is adopted.
24-68-103. Vested property right -
establishment - waiver
(1) (a) Each local government shall
specifically identify, by ordinance or resolution, the type or types
of site specific development plan approvals within the local government's
jurisdiction that will cause property rights to vest as provided in
this article. Any such ordinance or resolution shall be consistent
with the provisions of this article. Effective January 1, 2000, if
a local government has not adopted an ordinance or resolution pursuant
to section 24-68-102 (4) specifying what constitutes a site specific
development plan that would trigger a vested property right, then rights
shall vest upon the approval of any plan, plat, drawing, or sketch,
however denominated, that is substantially similar to any plan, plat,
drawing, or sketch listed in section 24-68-102 (4).
(b) A vested property right shall be deemed established with respect
to any property upon the approval, or conditional approval, of a site
specific development plan, following notice and public hearing, by
the local government in which the property is situated.
(c) A vested property right shall attach to and run with the applicable
property and shall confer upon the landowner the right to undertake
and complete the development and use of said property under the terms
and conditions of the site specific development plan including any
amendments thereto. A local government may approve a site specific
development plan upon such terms and conditions as may reasonably
be necessary to protect the public health, safety, and welfare. Such
conditional approval shall result in a vested property right, although
failure to abide by such terms and conditions will result in a forfeiture
of vested property rights. A site specific development plan shall
be deemed approved upon the effective date of the local government
legal action, resolution, or ordinance relating thereto. Such approval
shall be subject to all rights of referendum and judicial review;
except that the period of time permitted by law for the exercise of
such rights shall not begin to run until the date of publication,
in a newspaper of general circulation within the jurisdiction of the
local government granting the approval, of a notice advising the general
public of the site specific development plan approval and creation
of a vested property right pursuant to this article. Such publication
shall occur no later than fourteen days following approval.
(2) Zoning that is not part of a site
specific development plan shall not result in the creation of vested
24-68-104. Vested property right -
duration - termination
(1) A property right which has been
vested as provided for in this article shall remain vested for a period
of three years. This vesting period shall not be extended by any amendments
to a site specific development plan unless expressly authorized by the
(2) Notwithstanding the provisions
of subsection (1) of this section, local governments are hereby authorized
to enter into development agreements with landowners providing that
property rights shall be vested for a period exceeding three years where
warranted in light of all relevant circumstances, including, but not
limited to, the size and phasing of the development, economic cycles,
and market conditions. Such development agreements shall be adopted
as legislative acts subject to referendum.
(3) Following approval or conditional
approval of a site specific development plan, nothing in this article
shall exempt such a plan from subsequent reviews and approvals by the
local government to ensure compliance with the terms and conditions
of the original approval, if such reviews and approvals are not inconsistent
with said original approval.
24-68-105. Subsequent regulation prohibited
(1) A vested property right, once
established as provided in this article, precludes any zoning or land
use action by a local government or pursuant to an initiated measure
which would alter, impair, prevent, diminish, impose a moratorium on
development, or otherwise delay the development or use of the property
as set forth in a site specific development plan, except:
(a) With the consent of the affected landowner;
(b) Upon the discovery of natural or man-made hazards on or in the
immediate vicinity of the subject property, which hazards could not
reasonably have been discovered at the time of site specific development
plan approval, and which hazards, if uncorrected, would pose a serious
threat to the public health, safety, and welfare; or
(c) To the extent that the affected landowner receives just compensation
for all costs, expenses, and liabilities incurred by the landowner
after approval by the governmental entity, including, but not limited
to, costs incurred in preparing the site for development consistent
with the site specific development plan, all fees paid in consideration
of financing, and all architectural, planning, marketing, legal, and
other consultants' fees, together with interest thereon at the legal
rate until paid. Just compensation shall not include any diminution
in the value of the property which is caused by such action.
(2) The establishment of a vested
property right shall not preclude the application of ordinances or regulations
which are general in nature and are applicable to all property subject
to land use regulation by a local government, including, but not limited
to, building, fire, plumbing, electrical, and mechanical codes.
(1) As used in this article, the term
"development" includes redevelopment.
(2) A vested property right arising
while one local government has jurisdiction over all or part of the
property included within a site specific development plan shall be effective
against any other local government which may subsequently obtain or
assert jurisdiction over such property.
(3) Nothing in this article shall
preclude judicial determination, based on common law principles, that
a vested property right exists in a particular case or that a compensable
taking has occurred.
(4) This article shall apply only
to site specific development plans approved on or after January 1, 1988.
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