Planned Developments

What is a planned development?

A planned development is a type of zone district, and many properties in Wheat Ridge are part of a planned development zone district. There are five (5) types of planned development districts:

  • Planned Residential Development (PRD)
  • Planned Commercial Development (PCD)
  • Planned Industrial Development (PID)
  • Planned Hospital Development (PHD)
  • Planned Mixed Use Development (PMUD)

A planned development is essentially a property specific zoning document. Each planned development has its own list of permitted uses and development standards that apply to that specific property and run with the land.

Why use a planned development?

Historically in Wheat Ridge, all zone changes for commercial or industrial uses were required to be planned developments, which explains why there are so many properties zoned PCD and PID (there are approximately 70 PCDs and PIDs). The City Code also requires that all residential zone changes for properties over 1 acre in size are required to be zoned to a planned development. The benefit to this requirement is that through a PRD, the City has the ability to control architectural design and require higher quality design, which would not be the case under a straight residential zone district (the City does not have architectural design standards for single-unit and duplex homes in R-1, R-2, R-3, etc).  Many homes built since the 1980s in Wheat Ridge are within PRDs.

No zoning code is a one-size-fits-all solution, so a planned development is also an appropriate option for an unusually shaped lot, a property with unique topography and/or access challenges, or a project with an innovative or unique development proposal. 

What’s the purpose of a planned development?

The Code explicitly states that a planned developments may not be used to circumvent the spirit and intent of the zoning code; this means a planned development must still meet the overall intent of the zoning code (Section 26-102) which is to encourage high quality design, logical growth, and appropriate use of land. The purpose of a planned development, as stated in the Code, is specifically to “permit the establishment of well-designed, innovative developments which may not be feasible under a standard zone district, but which may be permitted through the use of an approved development plan by assuring greater control and specificity of intended development character, use, operations and maintenance, while at the same time allowing flexibility and diversity” (Section 26.301.C).

What is the zone change process for a planned development?

Unlike a traditional zone change, there are two distinct steps in establishing a planned development. Step one is approval of an Outline Development Plan (ODP) that establishes the planned development zoning designation, permitted uses, underlying development parameters, and general design concepts. Step two is approval of a Specific Development Plan (SDP) to provide specific site plans, building elevations, and civil documents. The SDP and ODP are both approved at public hearings.

The details in the ODP and SDP mean that each planned development has its own “rule book” in terms of how the land can be used and what development can look like. Planned developments are often very specific, so the owner, the City, and the public know exactly what a project will look like. ODP’s contain specific use allowances, density limitations, and development standards (similar to the City’s straight zone districts) that must be complied with even if ownership or designs change.

Does a planned development run with the land?

Yes, a planned development is property specific, recorded with the County, and runs with the land in perpetuity unless and until it is updated or amended.

How is a planned development amended?

Zoning standards (such as permitted uses, height, setbacks, density, parking ratios, landscape coverage, or the overall character of the development) cannot be changed without going through a zone change process. This means if zoning standards are proposed to be changed, a neighborhood meeting and two public hearings would be required again.

Changes in the design that still meet the zoning standards may be reviewed by the Planning Commission or staff, depending on the scope of the change as outlined in Section 26-307 (amendments to development plans).

Learn More

Please refer to the process guide provided below to learn more about planned developments or Article III of the City of Wheat Ridge zoning and development code.