Community Development

Zoning and Subdivision Frequently Asked Questions

What is zoning and how does it impact me and my property?
How can I find out my zoning?
What regulations pertain to my property?
What uses are permitted on my property?
Are there other regulating documents that impact my property?
Does the city have information pertaining to my property?
Can you tell me where my property lines are located or can the city survey my property?
What if I have a disagreement with my neighbor about where our mutual property line is?
Am I allowed to have accessory buildings on my property?
How close to my property lines may I build a house, shed or garage?
How high can a fence be on my property?
Can I have a barbed wire or electric fence on my property?
Can I keep horses on my property?
Can I keep poultry on my property?
How many dogs may I have on my property?
Can I store an RV on my property?
Can I park a truck-tractor or semi-trailer on or in front of my residential property?
Can I have two single family homes on my property?
Can I have an in-home business?
Am I allowed to have a yard sale from my residential property?
If my property is zoned R2, Medium Density Residential does it mean that I can have a duplex?
What type of signage is allowed on my residential property?
What type of signage is allowed on commercial property?
What if I want to vary my zoning standards?
How do I know if my project will be approvable or supported by staff?
What is a pre-application meeting?
What kinds of information do I have to bring to a pre-application meeting?
What is a site plan?
When do I have to do a site plan?
What is a special review use?
What is a conditional use permit?
What is the policy concerning outdoor food vending at a particular location?
What is a zone change?
What public noticing is given for upcoming public hearings?
As an interested citizen, how do I convey my opinions about a proposed special review use or zone change proposal in my neighborhood?
Can I contact my City Council representatives to express my opinion about a land use application?
What if I want to subdivide or adjust a lot line on my property.
I have an addressing question. Who should I call?
Who do I call for code enforcement issues?
What happens when code violations are found?
What types of code violations are enforced within Cañon City?


What is zoning and how does it impact me and my property?

Zoning is a tool used to regulate land development. Generally, it separates incompatible uses. Zoning determines how your property can be used. It also establishes design parameters such as minimum lot size, minimum building setbacks, maximum building height and the number of residential housing units. Back to top of page.

How can I find out my zoning? 
You can find out the zoning on your property by calling the Planning and Zoning Department at 719-276-5294. Typically, just a street address is needed. You can also look at the Zoning Map online. Due to the scale and color shading that you see on a computer screen, we recommend you call and talk to the planner to verify that the information you see is correct. For more information, see the Zoning MapBack to top of page.

What regulations pertain to my property?
Title 17 of the Zoning Regulations is the zoning code. It deals with all aspects of private property regulations. If you are considering subdividing your property or changing a lot line then the Subdivision and Development Regulations would apply also. Back to top of page.

What uses are permitted on my property?
Permitted, conditional and special review uses are determined based on the zoning of your property. Refer to Chapter 17.12 of the Zoning Regulations for detailed uses allowed in each zone. Please call the Planning Department at 719-276-5294 with any questions. Back to top of page.

Are there other regulating documents that impact my property?
Yes, but these pertain mostly if you are planning to do a major subdivision, or develop multi-family, commercial or industrial property. Click on the Community Plans tab on the Zoning and Subdivision homepage for access to these plans. Back to top of page.

Does the city have information pertaining to my property? 
Sometimes, but not often. If your home was recently constructed, we may have a copy of a survey or improvement location certificate (ILC) in our building records. However, the city does not generally require surveys for the issuance of a building permit. Additionally, many homes in Canon City were built prior to, or early in the 20th century, and therefore without any type of permit. The Fremont County Assessor maintains a certain amount of information on all properties in the City. Back to top of page.

Can you tell me where my property lines are located or can the city survey my property?
It is the property owners’ responsibility to determine where their property lines are. The city does not provide survey services to residents. However, if you have a mortgage on your property, it is possible that you have an improvement location certificate (ILC) among your closing papers. The ILC, while not a pinned survey, is a “birdseye” view of your property and shows existing structures and approximate distances from property lines. The Fremont County Assessor’s office (fremontco.org) maintains a GIS database that shows the approximate location of property lines also. Remember that only a land survey conducted by a registered land surveyor in the State of Colorado can be fully relied upon to provide the accurate locations of your property lines, buildings and fences. Back to top of page.

What if I have a disagreement with my neighbor about where our mutual property line is?
Disputes of this nature are private and the City has no jurisdiction in these matters. If you and your neighbor cannot agree, you should consider getting a land survey and/or consult an attorney. Back to top of page.

Am I allowed to have accessory buildings on my property?
Generally, yes. Accessory uses and structures are incidental or subordinate to the principal use of the property. In residential zones these can be garages or sheds, decks or satellite dishes. Any structure over 120 square feet requires a building permit and it must meet building height and setback requirements. For commercial and industrial properties, please call the Planning Department to discuss any accessory use or structure. Back to top of page.

How close to my property lines may I build a house, shed or garage?
That depends. Setback requirements vary depending upon the property’s zoning and the type of structure being built. Typically, a house will have greater setbacks than a garage. For instance, the rear setback requirement for a principal structure (your house) is 25 feet in the R1 zone district and it is 1 foot for an accessory structure like a garage or shed. You can look up your property on the Zoning Map and the development standards for your zone district in the Zoning Regulations, but it is always best to contact the Planning Department to get a verification of zoning and the development standards for each district. Chapter 17.12 of the Zoning Regulations Handouts. Back to top of page.

How high can a fence be on my property?
You can have a 6-foot high fence along the sides and rear of your property up to the front setback line. Along the sides and front of your property within the front setback you may have a fence 48 inches high if it is 50% open. If it is solid then the maximum height in this area is 30 inches. You must also maintain vision clearance along the street and not create a traffic hazard with fences. If your house is located within the required front setback, an exception may be made to these rules. Please talk to the Planner at 719-276-5294 for more information. Refer to Chapter 17.20.080 of the Zoning Regulations. Also see the Handouts page. Back to top of page.

Can I have a barbed wire or electric fence on my property?
Barbed wire and electric fences are not allowed in the residential zone districts. All fences erected for the purposes of public safety, health and welfare must be reviewed and approved by the City Engineer and the City Administrator. Please refer to Chapter 17.20.080 of the Zoning Regulations for more information. Back to top of page.

Can I keep horses on my property?
The keeping of horses and other livestock is allowed on R-L, R-1, R-2 and R-3-zoned properties in the City, provided you have enough land area. To even consider having a horse in R-1, R-2 and R-3 zones, your lot or parcel has to be at least 1 acre. R-L zoning requires at least 15,000 square feet of land. There are other requirements in Chapter 17.20.114 of the Zoning Regulations with respect to numbers of animals, care-taking and fencing. See also Chapter 17.08 for a definition of “livestock”. Back to top of page.

Can I keep poultry on my property?
In residential zones R1 and R2, you may keep up to eight (8) chickens as an accessory use. In zone RL – Rural Living, chickens are considered livestock and therefore a permitted use also. In the C-Commercial and I-Industrial zones where the parcel or lot is used for residential purposes, backyard chickens are allowed through the approval of a conditional use permit. Please refer to Chapter 17.20.029 of the Zoning Regulations for more information about the keeping of backyard chickens. Also see the Handouts page. Back to top of page.

How many dogs may I have on my property?
You are allowed to have a maximum of four (4) dogs as an accessory use in any zone district where the property is being used for residential purposes. Dogs must be licensed and dogs that are vicious or are known to attack are prohibited within the city. Please refer to Chapter 17.20.102 of the Zoning Regulations and Chapter 6.08 of the Municipal Code, Back to top of page.

Can I store an RV on my property?
In residential zone districts, you may store a recreational vehicle on your property as long as you are not infringing on any resident’s access to their property and that storage of the RV does not block driveways or sidewalks or encroaches into a vision clearance area. You may not store an RV on the street. An RV may be parked on the street for no more than 48 hours. Please refer to Chapter 17.28.110 and 17.20.200 of the Zoning Regulations for more information. Also see the Handouts page. Back to top of page.

Can I park a truck-tractor or semi-trailer on or in front of my residential property?
No commercial vehicle or any type of mobile machinery weighing more than 1½  tons gross weight may be parked or stored on lots in the residential zone districts except when they are parked or stored in a fully enclosed  garage or similar structure. Exceptions are allowed for construction vehicles and equipment for a limited amount of time. Vehicles hauling flammable liquids, explosives or hazardous materials cannot be stored or parked anywhere within the residential zone districts. Please refer to Chapter 17.20.120 and of the Zoning Regulations and Chapter 12.26 of the Municipal Code for more complete information. Back to top of page.

Can I have two single family homes on my property?
Generally not, unless specific permission has been given by the City through a Special Review Use approval and you’ve been issued a Certificate of Compliance for an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU). There are 2 instances where these regulations would apply. In the first case, if you already have 2 houses on your property (built before 2011) you can legalize the second, accessory dwelling by getting a Certificate of Compliance. This means that you have certified that the home is a safe dwelling and that it meets the City’s minimum requirements for an ADU. In the second instance, if you are planning to build an ADU on your property, you would need to get a Special Review Use approval and then the Certificate of Compliance. Please call the Planner for more information about these processes. ADUs may be allowed in these zone districts: RL, R-1, R-2 and R-3. See Chapter 17.15 of the Zoning Regulations for more information. Back to top of page.

Can I have an in-home business?
A home occupation is a permitted use provided that the use is clearly secondary to the residential use of the property and if there are no adverse impacts on the neighborhood. Examples of the types of home occupations allowed might include a home office, flower arranging, tailoring, licensed family child care and telephone sales. Employees of the in-home business are limited to those who live on the premises. Up to 20% of the area of the home can be used for the home occupation. A sign is permitted up to two square feet in size. Other licenses may be required also. Please refer to Chapter 17.20.100 and the definition of “home occupation” in Chapter 17.08 of the Zoning Regulations for more information. Also see the Handouts page. Back to top of page.

Am I allowed to have a yard sale from my residential property?
You are allowed to have up to three (3) yard sales per year. Please refer to Chapter 17.20.220 of the Zoning Regulations for more information. Back to top of page.

If my property is zoned R2, Medium Density Residential does it mean that I can have a duplex?
Not always. The R-2 zone district allows both single family and two family residences. In order to have a duplex on an R-2 zoned property, a minimum of 7,000 square feet of lot area with 60 feet of lot width is required. A single-family residence in the R-2 zone district requires 6,000 square feet of lot area with 60 feet of lot width. Back to top of page.

What type of signage is allowed on my residential property?
If you are operating an in-home business (home occupation), you can have one sign up to 2 square feet in size and a sign permit is not required. Real estate signs, political campaign signs and signs advertising a property for sale or rent generally do not require sign permits, but do have size requirements. Please refer to Chapter 17.30 of the Zoning Regulations for more information about signs or contact the Code Enforcement Officer at 719-276-5293 for help with sign permitting. Back to top of page.

What type of signage is allowed on commercial property?
Commercial signage is limited and requires a sign permit. Please refer to Chapter 17.30 of the Zoning Regulations and call the Code Enforcement Officer at 719-276-5293 for help with sign permitting. Back to top of page.

What if I want to vary my zoning standards?
It depends on the circumstance. Sometimes a variance to the area standards (setbacks, building height, for instance) might be warranted. The intent of the variance is to allow a property owner relief from a zoning district standard for his/her property. Variances are heard by the Board of Adjustment at a public hearing. Just because a variance is requested, it does not mean it will be granted. There are six (6) evaluation criteria used to analyze a variance request. As a rule, a variance should only be granted when there is a unique physical characteristic impacting the ability to develop the property (such as topography or irregular lot shape), if there are similar conditions in the area and when there would be no detriment to the neighborhood. Please refer to Chapter 17.36 of the Zoning Regulations for more information about variances and speak to the City Planner before submitting an application. Back to top of page.

How do I know if my project will be approvable or supported by staff?
The planning staff is available for consultation every day by phone regarding any potential land use application. The planner may have to consult with the Community Development Director and others as to their opinions for the project. More complicated requests such as proposed special uses, zone changes, variances, or lot splits or adjustments will need to be discussed with city staff at a pre-application conference. Back to top of page.

What is a pre-application meeting?
A pre-application meeting is required for all potential land use applications, except building permits for single-family, duplex or tri-plex construction. The purpose of these meetings is to provide an opportunity for potential development applicants to discuss their land use proposal with various city staff persons from the Community Development and Engineering departments. While city staff cannot predict the outcome of any land use development application, they can respond as to process and feasibility of approval. Please call the Planning Department at 719-276-5294 to schedule a pre-application meeting. Back to top of page.

What kinds of information do I have to bring to a pre-application meeting?
A sketched drawing (or preliminary plan) can be very helpful as the staff discusses your plan with you. Back to top of page.

What is a site plan?
A site plan graphically depicts how a lot or parcel will be developed and usually includes other development-related information about the proposed use(s) like grading and drainage plans, access permits and/or traffic studies. Back to top of page.

When do I have to do a site plan?
Unless a development or activity is exempt or a waiver is issued, site plan review is required before a building permit may be issued. Chapter 4.12 of the Subdivision and Development Regulations pertains to new or expanding multi-family, commercial or industrial development. This review ensures compliance with the standards and provisions of City regulations. Site plans (with minimal requirements) are required for residential development also. Call the Planner at 719-276-5294 for more information. Back to top of page.

What is a special review use?
Each of the zone districts in the city has a list of permitted, special review uses and conditional uses. Special review uses are intended to fill a particular void in services but because of their possible impacts on a neighborhood they are looked at carefully before they are approved. Approval of a special review use is dependent on compatibility with surrounding land uses, design of the property, and operation and management of the use. Special review use approvals can be vested with the land in perpetuity or can be for a specific period of time. An applicant requesting a special review use must have a pre-application conference with city staff. Special review use requests must go through a public hearing process in front of Planning Commission and City Council and may be approved, approved with conditions or denied. Depending on the zone district, examples of special review uses are: accessory dwelling units, schools, recreational and social facilities, child care centers, professional offices, animal kennels/hospitals and salvage yards. Refer to Chapter 17.24 and 17.12 of the Zoning Regulations for more information about special review use. Back to top of page.

What is a conditional use?
A conditional use is similar to a special review use, but it generally produces less impacts.   Conditional uses generally are approved for specific time periods. An applicant requesting a conditional use must have a pre-application conference with city staff. Applications are reviewed and may be approved, approved with conditions or denied by the Zoning Administrator. Depending on the zone district, examples of conditional uses are:  bed and breakfast, farmer’s market, social facility, farm stand or the temporary use of a mobile home or RV. Refer to Chapter 17.23 and 17.12 of the Zoning Regulations for more information about conditional uses. Back to top of page.

What is the policy concerning outdoor food vending at a particular location?
If your food cart will be part of a larger event or festival, you will be permitted through that Special Event. The responsible party for the event will also be responsible for your food cart. If you will be operating a food cart on your own and depending on where it will be located, you may need to get a temporary use permit. Please refer to Chapter 17.20.085 of the Zoning Regulations for specific regulations about food carts and kiosks. Sales and use tax licenses are also required. Also see the Handouts page. Back to top of page. 

What is a zone change?
A zone change is a process by which the zoning on a particular property is changed to a different zoning. A property owner may choose to change the zoning to use the property differently from what the existing zoning allows (for example, residential versus commercial). However, zone change requests are not necessarily approved. Please refer to the policies and conditions for rezoning in Chapter 17.40 of the Zoning Regulations for more information. Any zone change request requires a pre-application conference with city staff and public hearings in front of Planning Commission and City Council. Back to top of page.

What public noticing is given for upcoming public hearings?
When it’s required, one or more of these types of notice may be given: all property owners within a 300-foot radius are sent a mailed notice announcing the date, time and location of the public hearings, a legal advertisement is placed in the Canon City Daily Record and the subject property is posted for 10-15 days with public hearing signs. Back to top of page.

As an interested citizen, how do I convey my opinions about a proposed special review use or zone change proposal in my neighborhood?
All public hearings are open to the public to appear and give testimony. Testimony can include written correspondence or a statement made at the public hearing. Any correspondence provided to staff will be forwarded to the Planning Commission and City Council as part of the staff report. All pertinent correspondence should be routed through the planning staff. Back to top of page.

Can I contact my City Council representatives to express my opinion about a land use application?
Public hearings are quasi-judicial in nature. This means that the deciding body should make a decision only on the testimony presented at the public hearings. Please do not contact the Mayor, Planning Commission members or City Council representatives to discuss the merits of a case prior to the public hearing. It could jeopardize their ability to hear the case. Please come to the hearing to speak about your concerns or write a letter and give it to the planning staff so that it can be included in the staff report. Back to top of page.

What if I want to subdivide or adjust a lot line on my property.
You can, if the resulting lot(s) meet the minimum yard and bulk requirements of the zone district in which the property is located. However, that’s just one consideration when subdividing. The city has a streamlined process for subdivisions that meet certain requirements. All types of subdivision applications, whether you are moving a lot line or creating a 100-lot subdivision, require a pre-application meeting. So, please call to discuss your plans with the Planner at 719-276-5294. Also, please see Subdivision Regulations. Back to top of page.

I have an addressing question. Who should I call?
Contact the Planner at 719-276-5294 for questions about assigning or changing addresses in the City. Back to top of page.

Who do I call for code enforcement issues?
For code enforcement complaints, you may fill out an online complaint form or contact the Cañon City Code Enforcement Officer at 719-276-5293. Back to top of page.

What happens when code violations are found?
The Code Enforcement Officer identifies code violations and investigates all complaints to determine any unlawful activity relating to the City’s codes and ordinances that pertain to private property. If violations are identified, the Officer will, if at all possible, contact the owner and/or tenant personally to discuss the violation and set up a timeline for abatement (elimination of the violation). To avoid further action by the City, abatement is expected to occur within 7 to 10 days, but can be extended depending on any unique circumstances. If the violation still exists after that time, the Officer mails and/or posts the property with a Notice of Violation for the property owner and/or occupant. After that, failure to meet instructed compliance procedures can result in the issuance of an Administrative Citation or a Court summons, both of which will have fines connected with them.

Additionally, failure to heed compliance with citations can result in the assessment of abatement costs and/or a property tax lien attached to the unlawful property. In all cases, the property is monitored to expedite clean-up compliance and the current responsible owner is given ‘due process’ notification. Back to top of page.

What types of code violations are enforced within Cañon City?
There are a few ways to find out what codes are enforced. 1) These FAQs answer some questions about code enforcement. 2) You can click on the Property Maintenance tab in the Code Enforcement section of this website for a list of most of the codes that are enforced with respect to private property. 3) You can review Cañon City’s Municipal Code to help understand the current
ordinances enforced. 4) You can call the Code Enforcement Officer at 719-276-5293 for information. Back to top of page.