How proposed developments -- whether a 2,000-home subdivision or a new motel -- ultimately will affect the many aspects of a community is difficult to judge based on colored shapes on a map.
That's where CommunityViz comes in.
CommunityViz, developed by the Orton Family Foundation, is a planning tool that helps town officials, as well as residents, understand the context of development proposals. The project software, which provides interactive three-dimensional views of possible development patterns, will be the star of "Visualizing Hayden's Future," presented by Hayden on Monday.
"We're going to look at different options to how growth may occur in the community and hopefully make some educated choices about density, open space, trails ... things that are hard to grasp in two dimensions," Town Manager Russ Martin said.
The presentation, scheduled for 6 to 9 p.m. in the Routt County Fairgrounds exhibit hall, is the next step in a multi-phase process that will help the town plan for growth.
Winston Associates, a Boulder planning firm, hosted several meetings to gauge the community's values and hopes for Hayden's future. The firm then helped the town devise a draft of a new comprehensive plan.
Ultimately, the plan will help dictate physical development in Hayden and provide a basis for the zoning code.
Residents will view the draft through CommunityViz picture models, which will be accompanied by graphs and charts showing effects of development options on traffic, utilities and the city budget.
Throughout the presentation, participants will answer multiple-choice questions using an anonymous keypad voting system. The project team and Hayden Planning Commission will use the results to devise the town's final comprehensive plan.
Steamboat Springs resident Lyman Orton saw the need for CommunityViz while sitting on a planning commission in western Vermont where he tried to understand the implications of proposed developments represented by polygons on a map, said Chuck Donley, senior associate with CommunityViz in Boulder.
Commercially released in 2002, CommunityViz has about 400 clients, including planning consultants, university planning schools and park services. The software is useful in many applications including projecting population growth and wildfire risk and natural resource management, Donley said.
Users can view areas from a variety of perspectives, as if they are walking down Jefferson Avenue or flying above the town in an airplane, he said.
Monday's presentation will show various proposed developments -- such as the 2,000-home Villages subdivision and possibly the motel proposed for west Jefferson Avenue and an industrial park slated for south of the Hayden Cemetery -- in action, Martin said.
"It's a lot different than when you see it as a blob on a map," he said.
The software also will explore tradeoffs of different building densities -- five homes per acre versus 10 homes per acre, for example -- on the landscape.
"I believe there will be a huge shift in understanding in what that will mean," Martin said.
One of the most beneficial aspects of the software are the results spreadsheets that show flooding or utility issues as well as fiscal effects that may result from development.
Winston Associates planners, for example, used the models to determine that Hayden needs more revenue from commercial and industrial development to support additional residential growth.
Throughout the presentation, the project team and participants will dictate assumptions that go into calculations. Changing the average home sale price, for example, will show changes in taxes, Donley said.
The community's reaction to the models and graphs will give the project team a firmer understanding of priorities in terms of the town's character and values that need to be considered in revising the comprehensive plan.
"Usually this kind of stuff isn't fun," Martin said. "This ought to be fun for people. ... It's as interactive a community plan process as it will ever get. I can't emphasize that enough."
Ultimately, resident feedback is important to face growth and retain the town's identity. Instead of allowing developers to impose their visions on Hayden, the town will use its values and desires to guide developers, he said.
To encourage busy residents to attend the event, the El Pomar Youth in Community Service Club will provide free child care at Hayden Valley Elementary School. A community chili supper also will be provided at the presentation.