Zone in on the zoning code rewrite processThe Golden City Council voted 5-1 on Tuesday night to adopt Ordinance No. 2181 to update the City of Golden’s residential zoning code. This amendment to the City’s Municipal Code will impact single household, duplex and multifamily structures in the R1, R1A, R2, and R3 zone districts. This new approach to zoning will allow for new construction that more closely reflects the Golden community’s vision for its neighborhoods.

“The City of Golden has experienced a period of development and change, particularly over the past decade, with many of the new structures that have been constructed in existing neighborhoods feeling out of place with the older homes from previous eras,” said Laura Weinberg, Mayor of Golden. “As the city evolves, our Council heard many times from the community that they want to honor the City of Golden’s history as we build for the future. I believe the updated residential zoning code will help our community achieve those goals.”

In 2020, the City of Golden’s Community and Economic Development Department initiated an ambitious rewrite of the City’s zoning code for residential and commercially zoned land to align the city’s history with its future. This customized approach is based on a zoning code “audit” of the community by experts hired by the City of Golden. Over the course of the zoning code rewrite, the City of Golden hosted community meetings throughout the city and received hundreds of comments—virtually and in person—about the updates to the City’s zoning code.

“The important step of first cataloging existing conditions in Golden was the root of our approach to Golden’s zoning code update,” said Rick Muriby, Community and Economic Development Director for the City of Golden. “In order to appropriately guide the future of development in Golden, the zoning code needed to capture the city’s past development patterns. Between our in-depth research and high levels of community feedback, we believe the residential zoning code update adopted by Council best fits the community’s vision.”

Based on expert audits, the City of Golden’s previous zoning code had the following issues:

  • Incompatible setbacks and bulk plane – The City’s existing regulations did not go far enough to help regenerate building of the types of architecture—also known as form types—historically found within Golden’s neighborhoods.
  • Scale and size of new buildings – “The larger the lot, the larger the building” was the rule of thumb that was associated with the City’s of Golden’s previous code.
  • Size of the lot – Golden’s original zoning ordinance (1949) only required 4,500 square feet minimum lot sizes of single-family homes. It wasn’t until 1960 that this number increased to 7,000 square feet.

The City of Golden’s updated zoning code addresses historic issues through the following updates:

  • Compatible setbacks and design-focused rules – Golden’s updated code offers additional controls to help build the types of buildings that meet housing needs while matching the typical architecture of the neighborhood.
  • Scale and size of new buildings – The updated code counteracts the previous thinking (“the larger the lot, the larger the building”) by placing a cap on the overall size of the structure allowed on a lot. The updated code also promotes a pitched roof design for most residential structures, as this “form” is the means of maximizing the new square footage limits for dwelling unit structures.
  • Size of the lot – Golden’s new code reintroduces smaller lot sizes as a means of reconfiguring large, multi-family buildings into a new multi-family development type that incorporates a series of smaller, detached structures. This will help recreate this older form of development when new development occurs.

The adoption of the residential zoning code update ended the City’s moratorium on development of new residential structures on the R1, R1A, R2, and R3 zone districts. For more information about the expiration of the moratorium, please visit our Development Application page.

For a history of Golden’s zoning code rewrite and accompanying maps and videos, please visit Guidinggolden.com/zoning-code-update.

City Council is expected to review and adopt the zoning code rewrite for commercial properties in Golden later in 2022.