SB13-183 finally cleared its last hurdle on May 2 and now only awaits the governor’s signature.  The provisions of the bill modify the existing xeriscape statute, which appears at CRS 37-60-126.  The bill, as finally approved, prohibits an association from requiring any form or level of turf grass as turf grasses are now “contrary to public policy.”  The statute defines “turf grass” as “continuous plant coverage consisting of non-native grasses or grasses that have not been hybridized for arid conditions which, when regularly mowed, form a dense growth of leaf blades and roots.”

However, while an association may not require any amount of Turf (which is also defined in the statute or turf grasses, the Association may still adopt reasonable aesthetic design guidelines that address landscaping).  These guidelines may “require drought-tolerant vegetative landscapes or regulate the type, number, and placement of drought-tolerant plantings and hardscapes that may be installed on the unit owner’s property or property for which the unit owner is responsible.”

We recommend each association that approves architectural requests for landscaping, review their guidelines and address, in advance, what is and is not acceptable drought tolerant plantings, including whether or not the Association will permit artificial plantings such as artificial grasses.

Finally, the bill clarifies how an association may enforce violations for dormant lawns during periods of water restrictions.  As amended, the bill prohibits enforcement actions against owners who water in compliance with watering restrictions.  This is a change from the statute that merely indicated that enforcement actions were to be suspended, but were not prohibited.  Under the new language, they are prohibited.

David A. Firmin
2 responses to “Drought Bill Sent to Governor
  1. This bill will do two things first the homeowner now has some leverage in replacing their property hard to keep grass green due to drought conditions and city watering restrictions. Second it will allow HOA’s to review their landscaping guidelines and make reasonable modifications for homeowners in these difficult drought times.
  2. I’m not sure how this differs from existing law, except to define “turf grasses.” Someone still needs to let homeowners know there is a difference between “xeriscaping” and “zeroscaping!”
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