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City laws affect every citizen, even college students

When living off campus, you might not have to worry about running out of meal swipes, but you do have to comply with City regulations.

Fort Collins has many laws and ordinances students new to off-campus life need to know about to avoid getting fined. 


Grass and yard maintenance 

Get those lawn mowers revved up and sunscreen out. In the summer months, lawns cannot grow above 6 inches, or the City will issue a citation. 

“There’s certain things that you need to do in terms of whether you’re renting or owning a home in terms of maintaining the external appearance,” said Wade Troxell, mayor of Fort Collins. “You have to have the upkeep and the responsibility that goes with renting or owning a home.” 

Once a violation is received by the home residents, they have seven days to correct the issue, according to the code compliant website. If the problem isn’t eradicated, the City will send out the services needed to correct the violation. 

“The 6-inch threshold is a relatively common industry standard across many local municipalities that regulate limits on grass/weed height,” said City Senior Code Compliance Inspector Justin Moore. “I imagine that considerations that factored into this decision included general neighborhood aesthetics, weed management and the health and safety issues resulting from neglected or lack of effective property maintenance.”


Walking in a winter wonderland is only OK as long as the sidewalks are clear.

Snow must be removed from sidewalks next to or in front of a property within 24 hours of snowfall. 

“This includes the sidewalk across the driveway,” wrote Jenn Rieskamp, community liaison for Colorado State University and the City, in an email to The Collegian. “Code compliance inspectors enforce the sidewalk snow removal ordinance and hire snow removal contractors to correct sidewalk hazards at the property owner’s cost.” 

Neighborhood roads are not cleared as much as main streets due to the semi-arid climate, Troxell said. And with this, the snow tends to be lighter, and the sun melts snow on residential streets. 

“I think that was the second time since I’ve been on City Council when we’ve actually plowed all the residential streets, at least one pass,” Troxell said. “And that tends to be more the exception than the rule just because of the nature of our snow storms.” 


There’s certain things that you need to do in terms of whether you’re renting or owning a home in terms of maintaining the external appearance. You have to have the upkeep and the responsibility that goes with renting or owning a home. Wade Troxell, Mayor of Fort Collins

Parties and noise

“People are not required to register their parties, but registering a party is really in the host’s best interest,” Rieskamp wrote. 

Registering a party gives the host an opportunity to receive a warning, providing a 20-minute window to voluntarily terminate a party after a noise complaint is received, according to the Fort Collins Neighborhood Service

“If there’s a noise disturbance and the police show up, they actually have the opportunity to close down the party in a safe manner,” Troxell said. “It’s really an opportunity to help protect whoever is holding the party in case it gets out of hand.” 

Rieskamp wrote there could be a possible $1,000 citation given to the resident hosting the party depending on the circumstance. 

Appropriate noise level is enforced 24 hours a day. In the event a noise complaint is filed, a police officer is dispatched and has the ability to cite all residents or roommates with up to a $1,000 fine, according to the Fort Collins Neighborhood Service


U+2 has been a policy since the 1960s, Troxell said. 

This regulation restricts the amount of people living in one house at any given time. According to the Fort Collins Neighborhood Service, there are a few things that are not allowed: 

  • Two couples, married or not, with no familial relationship linking couple A to couple B
  • Two siblings and their two or more friends
  • A family of any size, a caretaker and an exchange student

The discussion surrounding this occupancy regulation deals with the livability of the neighborhood, Troxell said. Residents are concerned with the noise and other disturbances that could possibly come with multiple tenants. 

“I think, now in this Council, there’s a chance for modification (of U+2) as it relates to affordable housing and better utilizing our housing stock in Fort Collins from an affordability standpoint,” Troxell said. 


According to an article from the Coloradoan, it is illegal for cats and other animals to roam around freely and unrestrained within City limits. However, legislation is different outside City limits because Larimer County does not outlaw outdoor cats. 

Methods of restraint may include applying a leash or using at catio, and part of the reason for the regulation is to ensure the safety of cats in Fort Collins. The regulation can prevent cats from being hit by cars, being poisoned or getting into fights with larger animals, according to the article. 

The Fort Collins Cat Rescue’s Community Cat program brought in 600 stray cats last year, many of which were from rural areas, according to the article. Retrieving a pet from the humane society costs the owner $40 if its wearing a licensing and rabies tag, $60 if it is not and a $15-per-day boarding fee. 

Laura Studley can be reached at or on Twitter @laurastudley_.

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