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Zone Lot Amendments 

What is a Zone Lot?

According to Denver's zoning laws, a zone lot is a buildable piece of land. When conducting zoning reviews and permitting, Community Planning and Development applies standards, such as building setbacks, to the zone lot. (It is important to note that a zone lot is different from a parcel. A parcel is used by the Assessor’s Office to identify ownership and levy and collect property taxes.) 

  • Zone lot boundaries may be changed if the proposed zone lot(s) conforms to the regulations of the zone district in which the property is located, including any limits on maximum number and location of structures, land use, minimum zone lot size, and public street frontage requirements. The most common changes are zone lot “splits” or “combinations.”
  • A zone lot may consist of one or more assessor parcels and one assessor parcel may contain one or more zone lots. 
    • How is this possible? Parcel boundaries can be changed without city review, but zone lot boundary changes get a substantial review to ensure the amended zone lot may be developed in the future. A change to a parcel's boundary does not guarantee future development rights; a zone lot amendment may also be required.

Download brochure: Will My Proposed Assessor’s Parcel(s) Comply with Denver Zoning Rules? (PDF)

For more detailed information about zone lots, see the Denver Zoning Codesection 1.2, "Zone Lots," and section 12.4.4, "Zone Lot Amendments."

How to Apply for a Zone Lot Amendment

A pre-application meeting is available to all applicants but is highly recommended for those who are 1) requesting a zone lot amendment for the first time, 2) proposing a change to a commercial or multifamily property, or 3) proposing to leave an existing structure of any type behind after the zone lot amendment. This meeting is beneficial for discussing potential hurdles, survey requirements, and other implications before formally applying for a zone lot amendment.

Request a pre-application meeting or submit your formal zone lot amendment application online via e-permits:

  • Enter e-permits (new users will need to create a free account)
  • Select Development Services > Apply for a Permit
  • Select Zone Lot Amendment and follow the prompts

Questions? Email or call 720-865-2606.

What You’ll Need...

Pre-Application Submittal Checklist
  • A basic drawing that shows what you hope to accomplish with the zone lot amendment
  • Any other helpful attachments
Formal Submittal Checklist

NOTE: All local landmarks and historic district properties must undergo design review by Landmark Preservation staff. It’s best to alert Landmark staff to the zone lot amendment proposal early in the process. Use the DevelopDENVER mapping tool to check your landmark status, and visit the Landmark webpage for information on the design review process. 

Your formal zone lot amendment review will begin once all items listed below have been received and the invoiced fee has been paid:

  • Improvement Survey Plats (ISPs) produced by a surveyor for existing and proposed conditions. Be sure to label zone lots (not parcels).
  • Zone Lot Amendment Owner Consent Form for each zone lot.
  • If any part of a single-family or duplex dwelling, and/or an accessory structure will be within 5 feet of the new zone lot line, or within 1 foot of the bulk plane, submit building elevations showing base and bulk planes measured from the proposed new zone lot line(s).
  • If an existing structure will remain, submit the calculated building coverage of each zone lot using the assigned building form’s maximum building coverage standard located in the Denver Zoning Code.
  • If requested by staff, submit an MS Word document including legal descriptions for all existing and proposed zone lots. Legal descriptions can usually be provided by your surveyor.

Additional Resources + Helpful Tips:

Sample surveys/elevations:

  1. Pre-application meeting.
  2. Formal submittal by applicant.
  3. Denver Zoning Administration reviews the application to determine whether the proposal meets zoning requirements and if additional reviews are needed (e.g. Transportation, Building, Landmark, etc.). 
    • Note: A matching parcel reconfiguration through the Assessor’s Office is required before zone lot amendment final approval, but we recommend getting through at the least the first round of review to be sure the zone lot amendment can be approved before beginning the parcel reconfiguration process. 
      • It takes a few weeks for city systems to recognize a parcel reconfiguration after it has been recorded. 
      • No new parcel reconfigurations are processed during the months of April, November, or December.
      • Ensure you have the required addresses prior to submitting the parcel reconfiguration form. 
  4. Comments from all reviewers are provided to the applicant.
  5. Applicant addresses all comments and resubmits.
  6. Applicant provides new matching parcel numbers.
  7. City approves.
  8. Zoning Administration approves the zone lot amendment and records documents with the Clerk and Recorder. 
  9. Proof of approval is provided to applicant.

Please note that most of these issues can be anticipated by having a pre-application meeting prior to formally submitting and paying for a zone lot amendment.

  1. Failure to meet minimum zone lot width and area requirements for a zone district. Sometimes a zone lot split will be proposed that fails to meet the required minimum siting standards for the zone district.  
    • Remedy: If the proposal is barely short of requirements, there are more options such as the potential to apply Section of Denver Zoning Code (DZC), or to apply for an Administrative Adjustment. Otherwise, you will need to request a zoning variance from the Board of Adjustment  through a more formal public hearing and notification process.
  2. Remaining Structure Does Not Comply with Siting Standards. Often, when proposing to split a zone lot, a proposed zone lot line is drawn too close to an existing structure to meet minimum zoning setback standards. This could cause a proposal to be out of compliance with the assigned zone district standards. If a structure is to remain, know that a "building form" must be assigned (e.g. Urban House, Duplex, etc.), and attention should be paid to required siting standards based on the proposed zone lot's width (e.g., setbacks, bulk plane, height).  
    • Remedy: Redraw the proposed zone lot line, request an Administrative Adjustment, or request a variance from the Board of Adjustment.
  3. Failure of a remaining structure to meet an increased side interior setback standard. Often, when proposing to combine two zone lots, the existing structure cannot meet the increased side interior setback requirement along the zone lot line that is not changing (solely due to the zone lot width increasing). 
    • Remedy: Request an Administrative Adjustment, or request a variance from the Board of Adjustment.
  4. Removing a primary structure, but leaving a detached accessory structure. Accessory structures such as detached garages, sheds, and fences over 4 ft. not shared with adjacent neighbors, cannot remain if a primary structure is removed. 
    • Remedy: Demolish detached accessory structures; or attempt to qualify for simultaneous review with the residential plan review team if new development plans are close to being ready to submit; or request a variance from the Board of Adjustment.
  5. Requirements from other review teams (especially fire rating, commercial use permit updates, Landmark approval, etc.). Required right-of-way dedications, fire rating improvements, commercial use permit updates, Landmark reviews, Xcel easement requirements, etc., may result in additional delays and expenses.  
    • Remedy: Address all comments from reviewers by completing the necessary work.

Unnecessary hardship must be found in order to receive an Administrative Adjustment approved by a member of the Zoning Administration team, or a Variance from the Board of Adjustment. The review criteria for proving unnecessary hardship can be found in DZC, Section 

Administrative Adjustments can only be granted if hardship is proven and the requested adjustment is within the scope allowed in DZC, Section