Hayden's new comprehensive plan is nearly ready for the town's approval.
That was the consensus of about 25 town officials, residents and community representatives who reviewed the latest draft of the plan during a work session Thursday.
The 45-page plan was developed by the Winston Associates planning firm of Boulder, which gathered input regarding future growth in Hayden during a series of community meetings last year.
Composed of guidelines and maps, the comprehensive plan will help elected officials make decisions that maintain the town's character and encourage balanced economic growth.
"The real underlying basis here is who is going to control your community," Bob Perletz of Winston Associates said, while emphasizing the plan as an important guide for developers.
The plan also provides a basis for subdivision and zoning codes, which are being revamped in coordination with the comprehensive plan.
The comprehensive plan is meant to be flexible, and the town plans to update it annually. Communities typically develop new plans every five years.
Hayden's new comprehensive plan stresses the importance of creating a balanced tax base that is not overly dependent on one industry.
The town needs to encourage tax-producing commercial and industrial businesses to help balance the service demands of new residential developments and decrease the town's reliance on sales tax from Yampa Valley Regional Airport.
A healthy downtown that attracts pedestrian traffic and commerce is a key component of fiscally balanced growth.
The plan proposes growth in three stages. Stage one provides the most in-depth detail about growth issues the town likely will encounter in the coming years and within the life of the new plan.
Stage-one growth outlines various policies designed to limit residential growth while fostering new businesses and jobs for residents. Stage one aims to broaden the town's tax base and develop a town that is a place where people live, work and spend their money -- rather than a town that is a bedroom community to Steamboat Springs.
Residential growth gradually increases in an efficient and logical pattern throughout stages two and three as the goals are achieved.
Perletz emphasized the policies are not rules but ideas meant to steer the town in the right direction.
"We're not prescribing specifics here. ... We're talking about concepts related to goals and visions of the community," he said.
Resident Robin Bush questioned how current developments in the works related to the new plan. Town Manager Russ Martin explained that most of the projects already are adhering to ideas expressed in the plan.
"It's requiring the developers to keep up with the plan," he said.
Although stage one stresses keeping similar uses together, particularly in terms of pedestrian-oriented businesses, that doesn't mean all incompatible uses will be "scrapped out."
The plan simply provides suggestions for transitions that could occur over time, Perletz said.
The final section of the comprehensive plan suggest implementation goals and actions concerning land uses, economics and other aspects of the plan.
"What we're saying is, be true to what you said upfront and implement it in your actions," Perletz said.
The Hayden Planning Commission soon will begin tracking the status of each policy and action item to make sure the town is staying true to its goals, Martin said.
"For a document that lasts five years, there are things we need to prioritize on day one," he said.
A public hearing for the comprehensive plan is scheduled for the next Planning Commission meeting March 10.
Copies of the plan are available for review at Hayden Town Hall, the Hayden Public Library and at www.yampavalleyinfo/government043786.asp.
Residents can request a copy of the draft on CD ROM by calling 276-3741.
-- To reach Tamera Manzanares, call 871-4204 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.