Hayden Town Manager Russ Martin updated Routt County commissioners Tuesday about the town's efforts to plan for growth and develop a new comprehensive plan. The main focus of his presentation was the town's Nov. 15 presentation of "Visualizing Hayden's Future" at the Routt County Fairgrounds.
More than 100 residents attended the forum. Organizers used CommunityViz software to show attendees growth options for the town, including three-dimensional perspectives and charts showing fiscal effects of development.
Residents shared their views about community character and growth management priorities by using a keypad voting system throughout the presentation.
The project team is incorporating residents' feedback from the event in a draft of the new comprehensive plan, which will help dictate land uses. Martin hopes to present the plan Dec. 8 to the Hayden Planning Commission, he said.
Based on previous community meetings, the project team determined that a vision for Hayden as a tight-knit community where people want to live and work should drive the comprehensive plan. The team designated four directions the town needed to consider, including fiscal balance, to achieve that vision.
Based on CommunityViz figures, Martin explained that for each new home, the town faces a $1,200 budget in infrastructure and other services it provides. The root of the shortfall is the vast amount of sales tax dollars Hayden residents spend in Steamboat and Craig rather than in Hayden.
In a poll during the event, 35 percent of people said they do the majority of their grocery shopping outside Hayden, mostly because there is better selection in other towns.
Also troubling is that one-third of the town's sales tax revenue comes from Yampa Valley Regional Airport. Although the airport is an asset to the community, it isn't the most dependable source of tax revenue, especially considering the effects that events such as Sept. 11, 2001, can have on the airline industry, Martin said.
In addition to reducing the town's reliance on YVRA, town leaders also need to encourage more commercial development and pedestrian traffic, which will provide the tax dollars needed to balance residential growth, he said.
To control costs of infrastructure and services, Hayden's existing grid pattern should be extended, and "leap frog" development should be discouraged, Martin said, noting the perspective likely will result in some tough decisions when it comes to reviewing new developments.
Commissioner Doug Monger noted a difference in philosophy between the old vision, which seemed to encourage developments such as Golden Meadows farther outside town and the newer view that growth should be as close to downtown as possible.
"I don't know how it's going to play out in reality, but it is something that needs to be in the mindset of those who make decisions," Martin said.
Near the end of the Nov. 15 event, 64 percent of residents said they would be willing to limit residential development, without the appropriate level of commercial development, to maintain fiscal balance.
In another question, 65 percent of participants said they would like to see between 250 and 2,500 new residents in Hayden within the next 20 years. That was a far cry from past community meetings, when residents have said they hope to see 15,000 residents in the town by 2024.
The results appeared to indicate that residents understood the importance of controlled growth, Martin said.
He told commissioners that the town plans to hold public hearings in January or February before finalizing the comprehensive plan. New zoning and subdivision regulations also are in the works, he said.
"Basically, by June 2005, there will be a whole new set of documents when developers come in," Martin said.
Monger offered the county's support in Hayden's efforts to plan for healthy growth.
"We go out of our way to help Steamboat," he said. "We'd like to make a similar offer to you."
Polling results from "Visualizing Hayden's Future" are available at hayden.pollingresults. org.
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