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Ordinance restricting grass in new Aurora developments approved

The ordinance restricts backyard turf to 45% of the area or 500 square feet, whichever is smaller, and bans most front yard turf.

AURORA, Colo. — The Aurora City Council unanimously approved an ordinance Monday night limiting the use of cool weather turf in new developments and golf courses.

The ten-member council voted to approve the use of turf and ornamental water features ordinance. It is expected to take effect on Oct. 1, 30 days after the second reading, according to a city spokesperson.

Turf means any cool-season species, variety or blend, including but not limited to Kentucky bluegrass and Fescue, according to the city. In general, it would include those with an annual irrigation water requirement greater than about 9.3 gallons per square foot

> Video above: Arapahoe County replacing field of Kentucky Bluegrass with native grasses.

The ordinance prohibits turf in common areas, medians, curbside landscape and front yards. Backyard turf is restricted to 45% of the area, or 500 square feet, whichever is smaller.

An exception was added Monday night allowing for turf in all residential front yards where backyard size prohibits the instillation of turf to the lesser of 45% or 500 square feet.

PREVIOUS: Aurora ordinance would ban grass in some areas of new developments

The ordinance also prohibits turf for aesthetic purposes only, but allows it in new developments "in active or programmed recreation areas."

Those are defined as an area which primary function is as a sports field. However, it can also accommodate secondary functions including but not limited to non-organized sporting events, cultural activities and organized social gatherings.

Also added Monday night was a new section requiring the city to study the following impacts three years after the effective date of the ordinance:

  • Water usage within the city
  • Household water rates in the city
  • Home values and prices within the city
  • New home construction within the city
  • Adoption of similar ordinances by other jurisdictions within the Denver metro area

The results of that study are to be presented to the city council within 27 months of the ordinance taking effect.

According to the city, Aurora averages just 15 inches of precipitation each year, and said that cool weather turf typically requires "substantial watering" to survive. 

Public Relations Manager for Aurora Water Greg Baker said the city uses about 16-18 billion gallons of water per year. About 50% of that water is for outdoor use, which cannot be treated and reused.

> The full approved agenda item is below:

Janet Oravetz and Courtney Yuen contributed to this report.

RELATED: Legislation would help Coloradans replace turf with water-saving landscaping

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