Steamboat Springs Statewide kudos went out to the Routt County Planning Department for its work on the Stagecoach Community Plan.
"Many counties would not have had the courage to take this on," said Don Elliott, a Denver planning consultant involved in the contentious Stagecoach project.
"They wanted to recognize how difficult the project was because of its history of bankruptcies and large number of owners," Elliott said.
During its annual meeting Friday, the Colorado chapter of the American Planning Association recognized Routt County for its work on the Stagecoach Community Plan.
It was one of only two awards handed out in the APA Comprehensive Planning category.
During the 1970s, Stagecoach developers attracted buyers to the 1,500-lot development, boasting it would have a ski area, lake, golf course and would bring water and sewer to homes there.
But the developer went bankrupt along with the water district during the '70s. Stagecoach never got off the ground and left more than a thousand lot owners holding the bag.
A few years ago, Routt County, led by Assistant Director of Planning Chad Phillips, began creating a community plan so the current 1,200 property owners would have some guidelines for reasonable development.
The APA told Phillips the Stagecoach Community Plan did just that.
"They (APA) said it presented the history of Stagecoach and options for the future, and that the options were realistic without being overly optimistic," Phillips said.
"This plan was approved in October of last year, and it's already been used in 4 or 5 different projects."
For example, a developer recently proposed a 20-year plan to construct a golf course, homes, offices and retail space on 402 acres of land. It was based on ideas presented in the Stagecoach Community Plan.
"They're (developers) using ideas of subdivision layout they're using general design standards for the golf course and marina," Phillips said.
The APA also said the Stagecoach plan was easy to understand.
"They said it was well-written and didn't use a lot of planning jargon," Phillips said.
"I don't even like the planning jargon and I'm a planner."
The Stagecoach Community Plan wasn't popular with some of the landowners as the county was trying to create it. Issues such as easements and road access prompted some owners to oppose too many changes.
"Hopefully, this state award will have them (landowners) re-read the plan," Phillips said.
County Commissioner Ben Beall said it is important the county's Stagecoach plan was recognized as "realistic."
"The key word is realistic," Beall said. "How do you deal with antiquated plans when you already have land ownership?"
The APA felt Routt County dealt with these issues.
"I think one of the reasons the planning association like it (was that) there were a lot of ideas that could be supported by the private sector like the marina, golf course and ski development," Elliott said.
"It can increase property values for owners and the fun they'll have living there."
The award also recognized contributions to the Stagecoach project from Civil Design Consultants, Morrison Creek Metropolitan Water and Sanitation District, Stagecoach Ski Corp., Clarion Associates and MountainAir.
"You need to give a lot of credit to (Routt County's) planning staff," Elliott said. "It was very well-written and very clear on what the next things were to do. People start picking up those ideas and go forward with them."
To reach Frances Hohl call 871-4208