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Design Review for Fences, Retaining Walls and Site Work

Landmark Preservation reviews applications for fences, retaining walls and site work on all Denver landmarks and historic district structures. Applications are reviewed for consistency with the appropriate design standards and guidelines. Please read the following instructions carefully to ensure timely design review of your project.

Before you begin . . .

Fences, retaining walls or site work in Denver historic districts or on individual landmark properties must follow these requirements:

  • Front-yard fences may not be higher than 4 feet high and must be more than 50 percent open.
  • Rear-yard fences may not be higher than 6 feet high and may be solid.
  • Vinyl fences and chain-link fences are not allowed
  • Retaining walls may not remove a Denver hill or Denver roll if that is a character-defining feature of the individual landmark.

For more information about appropriate materials, please review the design guidelines.

Does the project encroach on a designated parkway setback? If so, you will need an additional review from Denver Parks and Recreation. Visit the Parkways page to see the list of parkways and the required setbacks for each one. To complete the review, you will need to submit a completed Parkway Exception Request form and a site plan that includes property lines, parkway setback from property line, proposed type, location and dimensions of encroachment into parkway setback, location of existing residence on property and labeled streets. To get a copy of the form and additional information, contact parkways@denvergov.org

Is your project eligible for Landmark Quick Review?

Rear-yard fence replacement projects that involve the same material, height and location, may be administratively approved through Landmark Quick Review. This process is for minor work requiring permits but introducing little to no visible change to a historic structure or property.

Applicants may submit the quick review application form (PDF) to landmark@denvergov.org. Applications must include information about the existing fence material, height, and location, and the proposed fence material, height, and location. Quick review applications are typically processed within one business day of receipt provided that the applicable design guidelines and standards are met.

New fences and fence replacements that differ in material, height or location, must be reviewed by the Landmark Preservation Commission and follow the steps below.


1 - Determine which design guidelines apply

Your location and type of project determines which design standards and guidelines you should follow. If you are unsure about whether your project is in a historic district, check the landmark and historic districts map.

In certain neighborhoods and historic districts, additional design guidelines may apply.


2 - Collect submittal materials

Design review applications must adequately describe the project and provide sufficient information to evaluate the proposal. Documentation must clearly illustrate the existing conditions as well as any proposed alteration(s).

All applications for fences, site work, and retaining wall design review must include the following information:

Please click the submittal elements for downloadable materials and additional information. To avoid delays, please only submit complete applications with all required materials.

Photographs of existing conditions showing area of proposed work and surroundings are required and must be:

  • In color
  • Labeled with direction and orientation to the street
  • No smaller than 4"x6" in size (or between 1024 x 768 pixels and 1280 x 960 pixels)
  • Arranged on one or more sheets within the drawing set (PDF format)

For examples of acceptable photos and tips for taking good photos, download Landmark Standards: Photographs (PDF) and the Photo Page Example (PDF).

All projects must submit a dimensioned and scaled site plan including:

  • Street address
  • North arrow
  • Scale (1" to 40' or larger if possible) 
  • Location of streets, sidewalks, alleys (any right-of-way or easement), property lines, and all existing structures
  • Location of proposed new fence and/or retaining wall, and any proposed hardscaping
  • Location of existing fences, retaining walls, hardscaping, exterior stairways and ramps, driveways, etc. Indicate if any are to be removed.
  • Front setbacks of adjacent properties

sample site plan

Fences: Provide drawings, photographs or product cut sheets showing the height, proposed material(s) and openness of the proposed fence.

  • For over-height fences (front yard fences over 4’-0” high or rear yard fences over 6’-0” high), provide photographs documenting that the fence is not out of scale with other fencing on the block. 

Retaining walls: Provide drawings, photographs or product cut sheets showing the height, proposed material(s) and grade change for the proposed retaining wall.

Other structures: Provide dimensioned architectural drawings of any permanent structures, such as gazebos, trellises or other shade structures. Indicate proposed material(s).

Hardscaping: Provide drawings, photographs or product cut sheets showing all proposed hardscape changes to the property.

Please coordinate with staff during your pre-application to determine if any additional information is needed due to the unique circumstances of your project. 

Submit Your Application

Complete the required application and submit it, along with any supporting materials, by email to landmark@denvergov.org.  Your submission should include two attachments:

  • PDF with the completed form ("yourname-app.pdf") 
  • PDF that combines all supporting materials ("yourname-app-materials.pdf")

File size should not exceed more than 25 MB combined. Contact us if you are having trouble with your electronic submission.

Every project is different. Depending upon the complexity and specifics of your project, process and time frame may vary from the information presented on this website and in the application materials. If you have any questions, please contact us.

NOTE: All materials submitted with your application become the property the City and County of Denver. The materials are part of public record, can be used in a public hearing, and cannot be returned.


3 - Staff review, revision and LPC/LDDRC presentation 

Administrative Review

Landmark Preservation staff reviews site work and fences administratively if the work clearly meets the design guidelines.

A - Landmark staff will evaluate the completeness of your application and perform a preliminary design guideline evaluation within a few days. If necessary, staff will provide comments or request revisions.

B – If an application is found to be complete and meets the design guidelines, Landmark staff will issue an approval within a few days.

C – If the application does not clearly meet the design guidelines, it may require review by the Landmark Preservation Commission or the Lower Downtown Design Review Commission.

LPC or LDDRC Review

  • Landmark Preservation Commission reviews over-height fence projects on individual landmarks and properties in historic districts, and any site work that does not meet the design guidelines.
  • The Lower Downtown Design Review Commission reviews streetscape design in the Lower Downtown Historic District.

LPC / LDDRC review will result in approval, approval with conditions, continuance or denial.

  • Projects that are approved with conditions must submit the requested adjustments to their final construction drawings to Landmark staff before a certificate of appropriateness will be issued.
  • Projects that are continued must provide additional information as requested by the LPC or LDDRC, and must return to the LPC/LDDRC for approval.
  • Projects that are denied must go before the LPC or LDDRC again with a revised submittal that addresses the LPC's or LDDRC’s comments.

4 - Certificate of Appropriateness issued

Once the project has been approved by LPC/LDDRC, landmark staff will issue a certificate of appropriateness and stamp the drawings.

The certificate of appropriateness and stamped drawings must be included with plans and materials submitted to Development Services when applying for building or zoning permits. If drawings submitted for a building permit vary in any way from the stamped drawings issued by Landmark staff, the permit drawings will need to be revised or the Landmark stamped drawings will need to be revised. If drawings submitted for a building permit vary substantially from drawings approved by staff or LPC/LDDRC, the project may need to return to the LPC/LDDRC for approval. During the inspections process, the completed project must match the work shown on the Landmark-approved stamped drawings. 

Please coordinate with landmark staff on any changes. 

 
Image of a window on a historic property
Image of a window on a historic property
Image of a window on a historic property
Image of a window on a historic property
Image of a door on a historic property
Image of a door on a historic property