What is a Special Use Review?

A land use designated as a special use in a zoning district is one that – because of its inherent nature, extent and external effects – may be allowed to establish if subject to special review to assure the use is located, designed, and operated in harmony with neighboring development and the surrounding area and does not adversely affect the public health, safety, and welfare. The purpose of the review process is to determine the compatibility of the use with the site and surrounding land and uses and the adequacy of services. Public review is necessary because the effect of a special use on the surrounding environment cannot be determined adequately in advance of the use being proposed for a particular location.

The Time Line

March 5, 2024 – Developers have officially requested tabling the application for the Tennis Center of the Rockies at 5701 N. 79th Street.

√ Pre-application Conference – a prospective applicant meets with staff to discuss their proposal and get a general understanding of the review process. This happened in May of 2023 for the subject proposal.

√ Application Submittal – the applicants submit their application and it’s reviewed for completeness by staff. This application was originally submitted in early December, but wasn’t completed until January 16.

√ Application Referral – the application review begins, and staff send copies of the application to various referral agencies to solicit comments. Referral agencies are chosen based on the different factors impacting the review (where it’s located, what’s proposed, who might be impacted, etc.) and are given 35 calendar days to respond with comments. This application was referred on January 19 and the referral period therefore ends on February 23.

√ Internal Staff Review – this takes place during the referral period, but is formalized at an internal staff meeting which is currently scheduled for February 28. Following the meeting the applicants will receive written feedback from staff. Depending on the staff review findings and if/how the applicants want to respond to staff feedback, this is also when it’s determined whether or not the proposal will move toward its first hearing.

√ Current Phase – Developers have tabled application.

Staff Recommendation – One week before the first hearing, the staff recommendation is issued to the Planning Commission and the applicant, as well as posted publicly. The recommendation is a packet that includes the staff report, application materials, referral responses, public comments, and any other supporting documents.

Planning Commission Hearing – This is the first required public hearing. Planning Commission will hold a hearing (currently tentatively scheduled for March 20) where they will hear the staff recommendation, applicant presentation, and public comments. They will then either “table” the docket (meaning they want more information before making a decision) or make a decision (recommend approval, approval with conditions, or denial). If the docket is tabled, it will be announced during the hearing how long that table might last. Just like staff, the Planning Commission are a recommending body and do not make the final determination.

Staff Recommendation – following Planning Commission, staff schedule a Board of County Commissioners hearing. One week before the Board of County Commissioners hearing, a new recommendation is published that incorporates the previous recommendation, the Planning Commission recommendation, and any new materials.

Board of County Commissioners Hearing – The second and final hearing is before the Board of County Commissioners. This hearing will likely take place 4-6 weeks after Planning Commission. The Board of County Commissioners hearing will proceed in the same fashion as the Planning Commission, with the main distinction that the Board of County Commissioners actually make the final decision of approval or denial. If the application is denied it ends during the hearing. If it’s approved there’s a 2-4 week waiting period while the written version of the approval is adopted administratively.

Post-approvals – If the application is approved, there are typically quite a few post-approval requirements that must be met by the applicants, most of which must be met within one year of approval and as a prerequisite for the issuance of building permits.