Land Use and Building

Land Use & Building

 

Land Use combines the Planning and Building Departments for unincorporated Alamosa County.

Tasked primarily with the safe, orderly, and sustainable development of the county, the Land Use Department is responsible for implementing and enforcing adopted plans and policies of the county.

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Ph. (719) 589-3812
8999 Independence Way | Suite 100
Alamosa, Colorado | 81101
Monday - Friday | 8:00 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.
CONTACT US

Planning and Building Director Rachel Baird
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Photo Credit: NPS/Patrick Myers

Frequently Asked Questions

Addressing 
        How do I get an address for my property?

We do not issue addresses to vacant land. Unless you have plans to improve your property by pulling a building or septic permit, submit documentation from the utility company you are having utilities installed, or apply for an access permit we CANNOT issue an address

        What is the application process?

Fill out this application form and submit along with the $50 fee, documentation of ownership, proof of utilities and/or proof of improvement.

        How much does an address cost?

$50 and you receive a reflective, metal address sign to post on your property.

        What form do I take to the utility company?

Download this form for Xcel Energy or this one for SLV Rural Electric Cooperative (SLVREC).

 Building Permits
        When do I need a building permit?

All structures over 200 square feet need a permit as do fences over 6 feet, solar panels, demolition projects, re-roofing, stucco, siding, decks/patios, and onsite wastewater treatment systems (OWTS).

  • Download this guide for a complete list of required permits.
        What is the snow load, frost depth, and wind speed?
  • Wind Speed: 90 mph 3-second gusts
  • Snow Load:30 lbs. on the Valley floor 40 lbs. for The Zapata
  • Frost Depth: 40”
        What are the current building codes?
  • 2012 International Building Code (IBC)
  • 2012 International Residential Code (IRC) 
  • 2012 International Mechanical Code ( IMC)
  • 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC)
        What are your insulation requirements?
  • R-20 Walls
  • R-49 Ceilings
  • R-10 Foundation wall
        Do you require contractors to be licensed?

Contractor licenses are not required in the county for construction except for OWTS Installers/Cleaners and Manufactured Home Installers.

        How much do permits cost?

Building permits are based on the cost of construction which is calculated using this guide.

  • Roofing: $100 (per building)
    • Example: House with detached garage is $200 if re-roofing garage.
  • OWTS Permit Price:$400
  • Demolition Permit Price:$0 (Must provide approved State permit)

 Camping & RV Occupancy
        Can I camp on my property?

Under no circumstances may an RV, camper, or tent be used as a permanent residence. If an individual is on a property in violation of these regulations they will be turned over to the Code Enforcement Officer, fined, and will eventually be taken to court.

We do allow temporary RV occupancy under two instances:

  1. If there is an installed OWTS and the applicant may apply for a RV Temporary Use Permit which costs $120 and is only valid for 180-days per calendar year.
  2. If there is an installed OWTS, a well, and a valid building permit on file for a residence, they may apply for a RV Temporary Use Permit for Home Construction which costs $120 and is only valid for two years with a renewal each year.
        Where can I learn more about RV Occupancy?

Download this guide.

        What is the process of getting an RV occupancy Permit?

Download this flowchart of the requirements.

Zoning Regulations

Alamosa County is zoned and permits are required.

        What does it mean if a property is zoned Agriculture?

Agriculture" is an assessment classification for tax purposes and is totally separate from zoning. Always verify zoning with the Land Use office or research it here.

        What to know about starting a business

It is always best to contact the Land Use office to evaluate the type of business and location you are considering. There are some zone districts and business types that are simply not compatible. Generally, there are three ways to start a new business:

Most types of business are allowed by right in Commercial (C), and sometimes Industrial (I), districts. If the business is small, a Home Occupation is often allowable. Some businesses are not allowed by right but are eligible for Special Use Review.

Read more about planning and zoning here.

 Buying or Improving Property
        What to know about buying or building in Alamosa County.

Alamosa County is zoned and requires building permits. Please be aware Alamosa is a rural community and life in the country is different from life in the city.

County governments are not able to provide the same level of service as municipal governments. Mail service, cellular/internet service, school buses, trash service, and even emergency services may be limited, slow, or not available at all in certain parts of the county. Connecting to the electrical grid can be very expensive and service is not available in all parts of the county. Road maintenance is not guaranteed and if the roads near your property are not maintained, they never will be.

  • You and your neighbors are responsible for road maintenance of private roads including grading and snow removal.
Only properties in the City of Alamosa or East Alamosa have central water and sewer.
  • All rural, residential properties require an onsite wastewater treatment system (septic).
    • At this time, we do not allow composting toilets or graywater systems.
  • All rural, residential properties require a permanent, legal water source.
    • In almost all cases, you must have a well.
        How do I know if a parcel is buildable?

Generally, a parcel is buildable if it is at least 1 acre which is the minimum size required for an onsite wastewater treatment system by the Colorado Division of Public Health and Environment. Most parcels in Alamosa County are eligible to apply for a well permit with the Colorado Division of Water Resources. The only parcels in Alamosa County that are ineligible for wells are located in Deer Valley Meadows Unit III.

        Do you allow sustainable or alternative housing?

Alternative building methods i.e... earthships, straw bale, shipping containers, or rammed earth, are allowed but the plans must be stamped by a licensed, Colorado Engineer.

        How do I verify access to a piece of property?

Colorado is a "Buyer Beware" state and access is not guaranteed. There can be problems with the legal aspects of access, especially if you gain access across property belonging to others. It is wise to obtain legal advice and understand the easements that may be necessary to access a piece of property.

        I have questions about water rights or wells?

Generally, if you own 35 acres or more you are allowed a domestic well which gives you the ability to irrigate up to an acre. Anything smaller than 35 acres allows you an in-house use only well which does not permit you to have any outside irrigation, not even patio plants.

If you have an in-house only use well, you can sometimes buy augmentation water from the San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District for an annual fee. All water questions and verification of water rights should be directed to the Colorado Division of Water Resources. They are a state agency which operates a local office in Alamosa.

  • Please contact them at (719) 589-6683.
        Am I allowed to have animals and a garden?

Most of the county is zoned Rural (RU), a district set aside for agricultural and residential purposes. Water can be a limiting factor on both agriculture and livestock, so please verify use with the Division of Water Resources. The keeping of animals as a residential accessory use is as follows:

  • Horses, mules, donkeys, cattle, rabbits, goats, sheep and poultry or other fowl are allowed on all parcels one acre or larger but they are not allowed to create a health hazard or nuisance to surrounding properties.
  • Parcels less than two acres cannot have more than a total of two of the following per acre: horses, mules, donkeys, cows, goats or sheep with the exception of young animals of less than six months of age provided they are the offspring of mature animals on the property.
  • Up to ten chickens are allowed in every district of Alamosa County and more are allowed in Rural (RU) zoned districts. The following requirements apply:
    • Chickens must be provided with a covered, properly ventilated and predator-resistant chicken coop.
    • Chicken coops and outdoor enclosures shall be regularly cleaned to control dust, odor and waste and must not constitute a nuisance, safety hazard, or health problem to surrounding properties.
        Are tiny houses allowed?

We require a minimum of 500 square feet for residential purposes.

        How do I get electricity to my property?

Some areas of the county do not have transmission lines and installation of new lines is the property owner's responsibility.

Installation can be very expensive and it is always best to verify utilities before purchasing rural property.

        Do you allow kit houses or pre-fab log cabins?

All homes other than single or double-wide manufactured homes must be site built. Pre-fab or kit homes are only allowed if they are assembled on site and the building inspector can perform all the necessary inspections required of a site built home or if they are inspected by a qualified third-party inspector.

        Do you allow composting toilets?

The State of Colorado's Onsite Wastewater Treatment System Regulation 43 allows composting toilets in addition to the installation of a septic system.

  • Per state regulation, you cannot use a composting toilet instead of a septic system.
  • Per state regulation, using composting toilets does not allow you to reduce the size or treatment capacity of your septic system.
  • As of May 23, 2018, Incinerating, Composting and Chemical Toilets are prohibited in Alamosa County.

Industrial Hemp

The Colorado Constitution defines Industrial hemp as ‘a plant of the genus Cannabis and any part of that plant, whether growing or not, containing a Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of no more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis. Under Colorado State law any Cannabis with a percentage of THC above 0.3% is considered marijuana.

  • Industrial Hemp is allowed in zoned districts where agriculture is allowed by right: Rural (RU), Commercial (C), and Industrial (I). It is allowed by Special Use in Residential Estate (RE).
    • You can search zoning online here.
  • All Industrial Hemp operations must be registered with the Colorado State Department of Agriculture Hemp Registry Program.
  • Proof of Registration shall be provided to the Land Use Office on an annual basis.
  • You must provide proof of a well or other legal and adequate water source.
  • ALL greenhouses used for commercial purposes, regardless of size or what is grown, require a Special Use Permit in Rural (RU) and Commercial (C) districts.
    • Commercial greenhouses are allowed by right in Industrial(I).

 Marijuana
        Can I start a marijuana grow in Alamosa County

Alamosa County only allows medical marijuana grows. A Special Use Permit is required for all medical marijuana facilities.

        How do I open a medical marijuana business i.e. grow (OPCO), dispensary (MMC), or infusion center (MMIPM)?

A Special Use Permit is required for all medical marijuana facilities.

        How do I get a medical marijuana card or caregiver's license?
  • Patients with qualifying debilitating medical conditions can receive a registry identification card for legal access to medical marijuana. Cards are available to Colorado residents and valid only in Colorado.
  • Colorado HB-1220 which limits caregivers to twelve (12) plants went into effect on January 1, 2018 .
  • A grow over twelve (12) plants is subject to Alamosa County's medical marijuana regulations.

 

        I don't want to go through the Special Use Permit process, how many plants can I grow?

People over the age of 21 may grow six (6) plants, three mature and three immature for personal use. No more than twenty-four (24) plants are allowed per residence without a Special Use Permit. If you cultivate more than 12 plants but less than 24, you must provide the Land Use office with a copy of your patient or primary caregiver registration on an annual basis. Under no circumstance may any plants or their products be sold.

        I have a residential well permit that allows me to grow a lawn, can I grow marijuana outdoors?

Yes, but only plants allowed for personal use and they must be in an enclosed, locked space that is not public or open. You cannot sell marijuana you grow yourself under any circumstances.

        Where can I grow Medical Marijuana?

On any zoned parcel of Alamosa County that is either Rural, Industrial, or Commercial AND that is 1,000\' from our protected purposes.

        What are Protected Purposes?

The State requires that no MMC’s, MMIPM’s, or OPCO’s may be closer than 1,000 feet of any an alcohol or drug treatment facility, the principal campus of a college, university, or seminary, or a residential child care facility. Alamosa County has further standards they may not be within 1,000\' feet of a church, dormitory, health services center or hospital, other licensed medical marijuana facility, detention facility, government building, public park, or residential zoned property.