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An Introduction to Overlay Zoning

Darwin Horan

Darwin Horan, a successful leader in Colorado land development and home building, is the president and CEO of Ventana Capital, Inc. Under the guidance of Darwin Horan, Ventana Capital has completed the construction of more than 15,000 homes.

In recent years, many communities have found that traditional zoning is not suitable for their development and growth issues. To address this, local governments have started using “overlay” zones that improve the flexibility of communities.
An overlay zone is a regulatory tool that places a special zone on top of an existing zone. This overlay may cover part of the zoning district, or it may cover multiple portions of different districts.
For example, a zone that is cleared for single-family homes may have a hillside overlay zone. This means that builders must construct single-family homes in accordance with the requirements of both single-family zoning and hillside zoning.
In most cases, overlay zones are used either for development guidance or natural resource protection. Overlay zones used for development guidance encourage or discourage certain types of development around historical areas. Overlay zones used for natural resource protection manage developments near environmentally sensitive areas.

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