Balance key to Hayden growth

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Achieving fiscally balanced and compact growth while preserving Hayden's small-town charm was the focus of a Town Hall forum Wednesday night -- the second in a series of meetings to revise the town's comprehensive plan.

"What we're talking about is a change in nature from the way the town exists today," said Jeffrey Winston of the Boulder-based Winston Associates planning firm, which hosted the meeting and is helping the town gauge its ability to sustain the inevitable growth headed its way.

Attracting industry and jobs to Hayden and making it a place where residents live, work and spend is a key part of a smart growth plan for the town, explained Winston and his associate Bob Perletz.

The average amount spent on city services for each residence exceeds the average sales tax and property tax revenue generated by those residences. Sales tax revenue generated from the Yampa Valley Regional Airport and people passing through town prevents a budget shortfall.

While that may be working now, additional development, such as the proposed 2,000-home Villages at Hayden subdivision, could overwhelm the town's services.

"What we want to make sure is (that) the town isn't put in a fiscally risky spot if development happens," Perletz said.

He suggested a possible location for light industry is a parcel of land at the west end of the airport, or the fly-over zone, which also is near the railroad and could be attractive to manufacturing businesses.

Marketing the town's quality of life also is important in attracting businesses the town needs such as a veterinary office, pharmacy and computer-repair service, said Don Johnson, vice chairman of the Hayden Economic Development Council.

"We need to make it a community you want to live in, not that you have to live in," he said.

Winston emphasized how Hayden could capitalize on its "marvelous advantages" such as the town's warm first impression and U.S. Highway 40, which he described as a "conveyor belt bringing pocketbooks."

Existing businesses need to be creative about marketing their business, and commercial development should encourage pedestrian traffic downtown, he said.

Another important element of balancing growth is compact development, which keeps the costs of new sewer lines and roads reasonable while keeping development concentrated downtown.

Some residents questioned whether existing roads and infrastructure could handle more population, valuable input that Perletz emphasized was important to the revision process.

"There are impacts, and there is an opportunity to mitigate them if we know about them," he said.

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