Hayden Hayden officials already can see what the planned 900-acre Sunburst Ranch subdivision will look like, even though not a single home has been built.
With the help of a new type of three-dimensional software called "Community Viz," the Board of Trustees and the Planning Commission can see how the development will affect the appearance and other impacts of the development well before construction begins.
The software allows planners to virtually fly above a photo-realistic picture of the development to view aesthetic qualities or view project impacts on traffic, economy, wildlife, water, sewer and more -- all with the click of a mouse.
"I think it's a tool we could use on all future developments within the town," Town Manager Rob Straebel said.
Other communities such as Dillon, Fort Morgan and Winter Park have begun using the software, which sells for $4,900.
The Hayden Town Board will review a grant submittal for the software at its 7:30 p.m. Thursday meeting at Hayden Town Hall.
A budget is being developed for the grant, to be funded by the Gates Foundation.
The grant will cover not only the cost of the software but also staff time for data input into the software and further data compiling necessary for the program to function properly, Straebel said.
"Community Viz can be adapted to represent Hayden's planning issues using local issues, assumptions and data," said Chuck Donely, a Community Viz consultant. "Then there are the visual aspects. Residents can (virtually) fly through existing and proposed developments to understand the location of the development and its relationship to their town. Community Viz can even help people be more informed about the future impacts of developments so more informed decisions can be made."
The Community Viz software operates with the help of geographic information systems, or GIS, technology, similar to global positioning systems, or GPS. GIS uses reference points similar to longitude and latitude to create an accurate diagram.
In other Sunburst-related matters, after private conversations between trustees and developers raised concerns about Sunburst, the Town Board has agreed to develop a policy that would state when or if those conversations are appropriate.
The policy outlines definitions that will clarify roles and responsibilities of Town Board and Planning Commission members, Straebel said.
"I would prefer all communication with developers come before the Board of Trustees or the Planning Commission in a group setting," Straebel said.
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