FEMA Mitigation Best Practices: Land Use Ordinance Protects Buildings in Estes Park [open pdf - 33KB]
"Estes Park adopted a land use ordinance to protect Estes Valley stream and river corridors. This ordinance clearly defines the boundaries at which structures should be set back to promote, preserve, and enhance the important hydrologic, biological, ecological, aesthetic, recreational, and educational functions that stream and river corridors and their associated riparian areas and wetlands provide. Adhering to this ordinance protected many buildings in Estes Park during the September 2013 catastrophic flood event. 'For new construction, we have an ordinance which states that all buildings and accessory structures shall be set back at least 30 feet from the annual high-water mark of stream corridors, or if not readily discernible, from the defined bank of the stream,' said Will Birchfield, local floodplain administrator. 'With regard to rivers, all buildings must be set back at least 50 feet from the annual high-water mark of river corridors.' In the downtown area, all buildings and accessory structures in the Community Development (CD) district have to be set back at least 20 feet from the annual high-water mark of river corridors. Where a principal building in the CD district provides public access, the setback may be reduced to 10 feet. Setbacks were also addressed for parking lots. Except in the CD zoning district, parking lots must be set back at least 50 feet, and in the CD district, at least 12 feet from the defined bank of the river or stream. Located along the Big Thompson River, Estes Park, a small town and popular summer resort, received a large portion of the flash floods that wreaked havoc on the state of Colorado in September 2013."
Federal Emergency Management Agency: http://www.fema.gov/