N AURARIA LIBRARY
INTR0DUCT1ON Why this project arose,
Essential to the planning process in Colorado is the role of the planning commission. Composed of residents of the jurisdiction, commissions have the responsibility of recommending to elected officiaJs, the action that should be taken on various planning matters in the town.
During the course of the Fall semester 1978 in which I worked in the Town of Lyons as a member of a student planning team, it became obvious that members appointed to the commission had very little prior knowledge of planning and even less understanding of their role and duties. Members spend a considerable period of their term of office trying to grasp some understanding of the planning process. How successful they are at this often depends on the resourcefulness of the individual member as there are few materials available that explain the planning process to a commissioner in a simple manner. There is little written specifically for Colorado, and none for small towns.
Consequently, frustration levels are high, membership turnover frequent and vacancies difficult to fill. Members often leave the commission without passing on to new members valuable information and knowledge that they have gained during their appointment. These observations were confirmed in other small towns.
The situation in small towns is compounded by the fact that 1) commission members typically do not have planning staff to turn to for answers to their questions; 2) neither do they have available the resources of a sophisticated library, and 3) often the planning tools and regulations adopted by the town are inadequate to handle the demands now being made on them. Thus commission members cannot re]y on these basic planning tools as a basis for their decision making.
PURPOSE OF THE PROJECT
The purpose of this project was to devise a method of educating planning commission members in a simple and relatively quick fashion so that they can begin to fulfill their duties effectively as soon after their appointment as possible. Moreover this method had to be specific to the needs of planning commissions in small towns. Preferably it could be used as a reference manual and as a method of recording the experience of previous members.
A. What type of tools or materials would be best suited to educating quickly planning commission members In small towns. The materials also must serve as a reference for further exploration of Issues and Informat Ion.
B. What physical form should the tools or material take so that they can be used easily, act as a reference, and be revised easily to keep it up to date with changes in the town, changes in planning law and techniques.
C. What should be contained in such materials, i.e. what are the basic things that planning commission members need to know and how should the material be organized.
SOLUTIONS TO PROBLEMS A 6 B
Solutions to problems A and B came the most easily and arose early in the research phase. These will be discussed here with the remainder of this chapter focusing on Problem C,
Solutions to Problem A:
There are several ways of educating members,
1. Run training sessions or workshops for new members. This method however is only feasible when more than one new member is appointed at one time. it is also a more valuable method of informing members about specific topics in planning or specific proposals being discussed in the town, Training members quickly in a broad range of planning topics would involve large amounts of time and money, as well as leader expertise not normally found in small towns. Moreover, it is usually a 'one shot* experience. Members are not left with a resource they can refer to from time to time; neither is the experience of past members, and the current state of planning in the town adequately recorded,
2. Town tours or field trips, of the townits offices, facilities, major utilities, highlights and areas of planning interest. Tours are very valuable when used in conjunction with other educational techniques, but are not sufficiently broad or in depth to stand on their own. 3
3. A Handbook for new members. This could he written especially for commission members in small towns in Colorado. it would be an easy tool to use, always being available as a reference, and could record the experience of past members and the current state of planning in the town.
Of the 3 alternatives the handbook was chosen as the best technique and its compilation selected as the task of this project. However it should be stressed that the handbook is designed to be used in conjunction with and complemented by field trips and workshops. It is by no means intended to stand alone. Writing the handbook is the first step in putting together a comprehensive package of educational techniques that will eventually contain workshops as well.
Once it was decided to write a handbook the next question was what form should it take? A bound book or report, a series of pamphlets?
In order to allow the handbook to be revised, updated, and supplemented by information from the town a loose leaf ring binder was selected as being the most suitable overall form for the handbook.
The remainder of this chapter will focus on the problem of deciding on the content of that handbook and its organization and final form. Re- search methods used here were also used to resolve the first two problems.
1. The handbook assumes that the towns using it have already adopted zoning and subdivision regulations but not necessarily a comprehensive plan. While this seems contrary to "good" planning it nevertheless is a common occurrence,
2. By small town it is meant
a) a statutory town with a population of less than 2,000 people,
b) have little or no planning staff and planning techniques in the town are not at a sophisticated level.
c) have a simple town organization and administration.
d) very limited financial resources,
These are general characteristics of small towns in Colorado.
3. While this handbook is applicable to any small town in Colorado its bias is probably towards those on the Front Range.
METHODOLOGY: Approach of the Project
1. Theoret Teal:
The approach is based on ideas from two schools of thought,
a] Community Development Theory, fundamental to which is the concept of helping a community learn to better manage its own activities. Within this is one other major feature, that of participation by residents of the town in problem identification and solution, bringing together as many different concerns as possible. Solutions are then understood, supported and carried out by the people involved,^
b) Transactive Planning, an approach to planning developed by John Friedmann.^ Friedmann argues that there is a gulf in communication between technical planners and their clients, that exists mainly because the planner is chiefly involved in a world of processed knowledge unfamiliar to clients whose knowledge rests chiefly
on personal experience. The result is little or no action.
Friedmann claims that if the communication gap between the planner and the client is to be closed, then a continuing series of persona 1 and primarily verbal exchanges must take place between the two. In that way processed knowledge is fused with personal knowledge and together they produce action. This is a process of mutual learning in which
"planner and client each learn from the other the planner from the client's personal knowledge, the client from the planner's technical expertise. In this process, the knowledge of both undergoes a major change. A common image of the situation evolves through dialogue; a new understanding of the possibilities for change is discovered. And in accord with this new knowledge, the client will be predisposed to act."3
These concepts form the basis of the approach adopted and methods used
during this project.
The Town of Lyons was used as a case study.
Long, H.B., R.C. Anderson and J.A. Blubaugh, Approaches to Community Development (Iowa City: National University Extension Association and the American College Testing Program, 1973), page 9*
2 Friedmann, J., Retrackinq America: A Theory of Transactive Planning (Garden City, New York: Anchor Press/Doub1eday, 1973), pages 171-177
^ Ibid., page 185.
Suggested ideal process:
Early in the project it was suggested that the project follow this
1) Research into what ideally should be included in a handbook,
2) Development of the outline of the ideal handbook and presentation to the planning commission for review and comment,
3) Negotiation between the planning commission and the researcher as to the final format of the outline.
A) Research and draft of the handbook.
5) Presentation to the planning commission for review and comment,
6) Negotiation between the planning commission and the researcher as to the style, emphasis and format.
7) Rewriting and presentation of the final document.
While this was basically the process followed several steps were
mod if fed.
Step 1. Because of the nature of the problem the theoretical perspective of the researcher, and the fact that the researcher had already discussed the problem with members of the planning commission before the project had officially begun, it was impossible to develop a theoretical ideal outline. Members of the planning commission had to be consulted throughout the process.
While many outlines were drafted,3 were presented to the planning commission. The first was based on discussion with the Lyons planning commission only and the researcher's idea of what should go into the handbook (See Appendix l). This was reviewed by the Lyons planning commission who made suggestions. At this time the study was expanded to be applicable to all small towns.
Step 2. Development of the second outline (See Appendix ll) thus
involved talking not only with members of the Lyons planning commission but also with planning commission members in other towns and counties, practicing planners in Lyons and other towns and counties, professionals in state government, professionals in other activities related to planning (e.g. town manager, town clerk, economists, etc.) as well as university faculty and staff. Materials from other areas were researched. The outline that was developed contained a fusion of ideas and needs drawn from all these sources based on the researcher's perception of what should be contained in the manual.
Step 3. This outline was submitted to the Lyons planning commission for review and comment, Changes suggested involved mainly a matter of which sections to emphasize and which to play down, so that very little negotiation took place.
Step A. During this time information to be included in the handbook was being researched, The next step was to write the draft.
Step 5. This was presented not only to the planning commission for review and comment but also to many of the peopie consulted on the outline. By writing the draft and getting the information down on paper, the researcher was freed to be more objective about the work, and evaluate it.
Review focused on content
Step 6, As a result of the comments, the material in the handbook was completely reorganized and in many cases rewritten.
The third and final outline was presented to the planning commission for comment. Two other competing comments emerged. One was to reduce the length of the handbook.
The other was to retain the detail and in some cases expand on it.
Step 7. The responsibility for the final document lies with the researcher. An attempt was made to accommodate the two competing needs by providing an overview or summary of the complete handbook at the beginning, leaving commission members free to explore in more depth, topics explained in the remainder of the manual as they wish,
The following pages contain the Handbook. It is not intended to answer all a commission members questions; it merely provides the basic information and points to sources of more information. It is long because of the need for a great variety and depth of information, But it is organized to allow easy access to any detail the reader wishes to overview or pursue in depth. It is also the first attempt at putting together such a handbook in Colorado. It is intended that it be modified and updated so that it continually reflects the needs of each town it is being used in and also changes in planning law and techniques.
It should also be used in conjunction with field trips, workshops and other educational techniques as suggested in the handbook,
Herb Smith Dan Schler Dave Hill Mark Murphy
Craig Richards Chris Jeavons Conn ie Wi1 son Bud O'Connor Mary Teresky Rick Gale
Ruth Rodriquez Past Town Manager Carol Moores Town Clerk Vince Porreca Planner Pete Fogg Planner
Freder i ck
Pete Wilson Tri-Area Planning Commission
Susan Pedrick Town Board
Charlie Foster Planning Division
Glenn Kissenger Rural Development
Tom Laetz Planning Division
John Fernandez (Rifle) Energy Impact Office
Office of Howard Commun i ty
Pol icy Analys i s Converse
Thom Rounds Planning Department
Dennis Swain Planning Department Amey Grubbs Planning Commission
City of Fort Col 1 ins
Fort Collins Housing Authority Wayne Taylor
City of Longmont Planning Department
City of Boulder Planning Department
City of Loveland Planning Department
Boulder County Planning Department
Montana State Government Oregon Extension Service Idaho State Government Boise City Planning Department
Paul D. Leinberger, Principal, Pacific Management Group, Berkeley
Tentative Manual Outline:
A. What is planning aims, what it can and cannot do
n - relationship of planning to economics, community values,
and social life, aesthetics, etc.
- history in Lyons
1) Zoning why zone?
- advantages, disadvantages
- role of courts
- history in Lyons (including discussion of problems)
2) Subdivision ordinance what it is and how it works in Lyons
- advantages, limitations
- Subdivision Workbook
3) Comprehensive Plan what it is designed to achieve, its role/
importance in the planning process (uses, limitations, legal basis)
- Lyons explanation
*0 Community Involvement in the Planning Process importance
- history of involvement in Lyons
B. Definitions rezoning, variance, ordinance, resolution, public hearing, public meeting, etc.
C. Government Structure in Lyons (and Boulder County)
- functions of the town government and services provided
- organizational chart
- current prob1ems/strengths
- current budget
- contacts who to contact for what information/help
Role of Government Units
- in Colorado
- in Lyons
in the Planning Process
1) Planning Commission
- composition, eligibility criteria, terms of office, etc.
- tasks, and role
- rules and regulations, e.g. governing meetings, minute recording
- role of value judgments in decision making
- relationship to Town Board reporting and information flow
2) Town Board
3) Board of Adjustment
4) Town Clerk
5) Town Manager
6) Town Attorney, and Planner
7) Relationship and responsibilities of the Town to the County
E. Information Sources
- in Lyons tape library, files
- zoning ordinance, subdivision ordinance, Subdivision Workbook, Procedures Manual, Comprehensive Plan (suggest an order in which to read)
- outside Lyons County
- DR COG
- helpful texts, reference books, listed under topics, e.g. environment, citizen involvement, zoning, etc.
F. Current Major Planning Proposals
A short history of major planning proposals currently being considered
by the Planning Commission outline decisions, commitments made to date, etc.
G. Selected Case Histories/Examples
Giye examples of the ways some typical cases have been handled by the Planning Commission.
OUTLINE: ORIENTATION HANDBOOK, PLANNING COMMISSION MEM3ERS
A. What is planninn:
Historical reasonscre3t?iÂ£Â§d for nlanninn Whv nlan
Scone o* nlanninn / nlanninn nrocess Innredients for effective planning Planninn is lem.l
History of nlanninn in L''ons Myths to be dispelled
2. Actors in the local nlanninn nrocess:
Ornanization of the jurisdiction -Town Board
Town Clerk Secretary
Board of Adjustment Planner
Role of the Planninn Commission
- composition, who it represents
- relationship to town board, developers / annlicants, citizen involvement, (history in Lyons)
C. Activities and ornanization of the nlanninn commission:
I.Bvlaws, Recordinn Conflict o* interest Criteria for selectinn members
II. Hearinns and decisionmakino
Mow to conduct meetinns, hearinns
Decisionmaking due nrocess, consistency (en Lyons nolicies) predictability, time for nrocessinn application, weiahing private and public interests
* ordinances, motions, resolutions
* nuidelines for chairpersons
D. How local nlanninn fits in with other levels of Government
* COG, regional
* State, Planninn Division, Legislature,
F. planninn techniques and tools:
* Comprehensive nlan State enablinn lenislation
- what it is, scone, role in nlanninn process
- what it can / cannot do
* Zonina what it is, how it fits into the nlannino process
- limitations, advantanes
- how it works
- new tools cluster development, floatino zones, PUD,
TDR's, Permit system, performance standards
- criteria for evaluatino applications rezoninn, variance,
exception, special use
* Subdivision reaulations what it is,
- how it relates to zoninn and the comprehensive plan
- lenal foundation
- steps in the process
-criteria for evaluation, desion criteria,
- minor subdivision
G. Issues in planninn in Colorado:
* nrowth mananement
* Environmental Control
H. Lena! Foundation of Planninn:
The takinn issue Colorado Statutes Colorado case law
I Examples of how specific cases handled in Lyons:
Lot splits, variance, special uses, rezones
J. State of current na.jor Planning proposals in Lyons:
K. Sources of information:
* Readina list
* neonle to contact Lyons, county, state, federal
Andrews, R.B. (ed.), Urban Land Use Policy: The Central City (New York: The Free Press) 1972.
Bosselman, F., D. Callies, J. Bants, The Taking Issue (Washington, D.C.: Council on Environmental Quality) 1973.
Briscoe, Maphis, Murray, Lamont, Inc., Managing Growth in the Small Community (Denver, CO: U.S. E.P.A. Action Handbook) 1978.
Center for the Study of Local Government,
Land Use Planning Management of Growth Subdivision Regulations Zon i ng
(St. Cloud, Minnesota: St. John's University).
Colman, Hila, City Planning: What It Is All About--In The Planner's Own Words (New York: World Publishing, Times Mi rror) 1971.
Colorado Division of Planning, Comprehensive Planning ... A Manual for Colorado Planners and Land Use Admini strators (Denver: Department of Local Affairs) 1977.
Colorado Municipal League, Handbook for Mayors and Council Members in Statutory Cities, 4th edition (Wheatridge, Colorado) 1977.
Colorado Revised Statutes, 1973.
DiChiarra, J. and L. Koppelman, Urban Planning and Design Criteria, 2nd edition (New York: Van Nostrand Re inho Id Co.) 1975
Denver Regional Council of Governments, So You're the Planning Commissioner
Dorsey, T., The Law of Planning and Land Use Regulation in Colorado, 3rd edition, (Denver, Colorado: Colorado Chapter, American Institute of Planners)
FrIedman, J., Retracking America: A Theory of Transactive Planning (Garden City, New York: Anchor Press/Doubleday) 1973.
Ga11 ion, Des ign, 4rd
A.B. and S. Eisher, edition (New York:
The Urban Pattern: City Planning and D~ Van Nostrand Co,) 1975.
Goodman, W. I. and E.C. Freund, Principles and Practice of Urban Planning, 4th edition (Washington, D.C.: International City Managers Association) 1968.
Hagman, D.G., Public Planning and Control of Urhan and Land Development: Cases and Materials (St. Paul, Minnesota: West Publishing Company) 1973.
Hall, P., Urban and Regional Planning (New York: J. Wiley and Sons) 1975
Holleb, D.B., Social and Economic Information for Urban Planning Volume I (Center for Urban Studies of the University of Chicago, Midway Reprint) 1974.
K1 ing, C.G., Principles of Urban Planning (Mew York: Vantage Press) 1976
Long, H.B., R.C. Anderson and J.A. Blubaugh, Approaches to Community Development (Iowa City: National University Extension Association and the American College Testing Program) 1973.
Lynch, K., Site Planning 2nd edition, (Cambridge, Massachusetts: M.l.T. Press) 1971.
Marsh, W.M., Environmental Analysis: For Land Use and Site Planning (New York: McGraw-Hi11 Book Company) 1978.
Minnesota State Planning Agency, Subdivision Control for Minnesota Commun ? t ies (St. Paul, Minnesota: Office of Local and Urban Affa i rs) 1975.
Moss, E., ed., Land Use Controls in the United States (New York: National Resources Defense Council, The Dial Press/James Wade) 1977.
Nelson, R.H., Zoning and Property Rights: An Analysis of the American System of Land Use Regulation' (Cambridge, Massachusetts: M.I.T. Press) 1977
Ratcliffe, J., An Introduction to Town and Country Planning (Hutchinson of London) 197^.
Real Estate Research Corporation, The Costs of Sprawl (Washington, D.C.: C.E.Q., E.P.A., H.U.D.) 197^.
Scott, R.W., D.J, Brower and D.D, Miner (eds.), Management and Control of Growth Volumes I, II, III (Washington, D.C.: Urban Land Institute) 1975.
Smith, H.H., Citizen's Guide to Planning. (American Planning Association) 1979.
Solnit, A,, The Job of the Planning Commissioner: A Guide to Citizen Participation in Local Planning* (Berkeley: University Extension, Universi ty of Cal ifornia, Berkeley) 197^
Town of Lyons, Future Land Use Study Follow Up 1979, Center for Community Development and Design, University of Colorado at Denver, 1979-
Town of Lyons, Procedures Manual, Center for Community Development and Design, University of Colorado at Denver, 1979.
Town of Lyons, Subdivision Review Workbook, Center for Community Development and Design, University of Colorado at Denver, 1977.
Urban Land Institute, Residential Development Handbook (Washington, D.C.: Community Builders Handbook Series) 1978.
by Bronwen J. T
in cooperation with:
The Center for Community Development and Design College of Environmental Design University of Colorado, Denver
1 would like to thank the Lyons Planning Commission for their encouragement over the past year. I especially would like to thank Mark Murphy, Director of Small Town and Rural Planning for the Center for Community Development and Design for his continuous guidance, insight and support. It has been an invaluable experience and a pleasure working with you.
Thanks also go to "Bromhead," and Ronna Lee Widner for expert assistance with typing. Finally, special thanks to Grant Reid, whose patience and support kept me believing in the project and myself.
How to Use the Handbook:
Who is it for:
The handbook is for new planning commission members in small towns in Colorado. Commission members who want to refresh their knowledge of planning may also wish to use it. While it is written specifically for commissions in statutory towns (with a population less than 2,000 people) it could be adapted easily to suit other jurisdictions.
i t exp lain:
The handbook explains what planning is and some of the techniques and terms of planning. It outlines the responsibilities of the planning commission, describing some of the decisions the commission must make, and providing guidelines to help it do so.
How should it be used:
The handbook introduces new planning commission members to planning and to their duties as a commission member. New members should read sections 1, 2, 3, and 7 first, referring to the definitions when
necessary. As members become more comfortable with general planning ideas the rest of the handbook can be used as a source of information on specific planning techniques.
It has been organized so that topics can be referred to easily whenever a member wants more information.
The handbook is not intended to be read from cover to cover. Neither is it designed to provide answers to all the questions a member might have. It points to other sources where that information may be found. To be most effective the handbook should be used in conjunction with
* field trips
* planning textbooks
It also needs to be updated regularly. Please feel free to add to the handbook or adapt it to the needs of your town.
Planning helps elected officials when making decisions that will affect the future of the town. It makes sure that the decisions made by the community will benefit the community as a whole.
Planning supplements the free enterprise system, ensuring that resources in a community are used wisely. Thus the overall quality of life in the community is improved, by lessening problems and making the most of opportunities.
Planning is not a new activity in American towns and cities. It has been used widely since the turn of the century, and has been upheld by the courts as legal. Legislation in Colorado gives towns the authority to plan.
Planning takes place when residents helped by planners, study their town and decide what they want the town to be like in the future.
The community sets goals that it wishes to achieve in the future, and incorporates these goals into plans for action, such as a comprehensive plan. The comprehensive plan is a coordinated, long range, general guide for the future economic and social development of the town.
The town then adopts tools such as zoning or subdivision regula-tions to help it achieve these goals.
Zoning is the legal regulation by local governments of the way land is used within the town, and the way buildings are situated on the land. Zoning divides the town into different districts, different types of activities such as houses (residential) shops (commercial) or business or work places (industrial) are allowed in each district Zoning tries to ensure tha there is enough space for all the different activities of the town and that the location of these activities is such that any adverse effects on the town are minimized.
Subdivision regulations control the way land is divided and sold in the town. The regulations set standards which subdivisions must meet in order to make sure that the town develops in an orderly way and that services and utilities are provided appropriately. Subdivisions must be reviewed according to procedures outlined in the regulations. Zoning determines how different areas of land can be used, while subdivision regulations outline the standards that must be met and the procedures to be followed when developing a specific piece of land for the uses that zoning allows.
Together, the plans and tools guide elected officials when making decis ions.
This process is described in the diagram below.
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The planning commission's role in this process it to take the lead in preparing the town's comprehensive plan. As the goals of the community change, or circumstances in the town change, the commission has the responsibility of updating the plans and the the tools on the basis of input from both the residents of the town and technical souces of information.
The commission also has the responsibility of reviewing all applications for permission to build public facilities, change zoning or develop subdivisions. It researches each proposal, gathering information from the applicant, professional planners and town residents, and recommends to the Town Board what action it should take. The commission must ensure that each proposal meets the goals and the standards set out in the comprehensive plan and the zoning ordinance and subdivision regulations. The final recommendation fo the commission is based on what is best for the whole community. It is important then that commission members believe in planning.
Commission members will find it easier to make decisions, and will make better decisions if they are familiar with the town's comprehensive plan, zoning ordinance and subdivision regulations. Field trips and workshops will also help members learn more about planning.
The planning commission is advisory only; it is only one of the groups of people involved in the planning process. The Town Board is the official body which adopts the regulations which the planning commission must work within. It also decides whether or not specific proposals should be allowed. Professional planners offer technical advice on the more complex planning issues the commission has to deal with. Town residents are instrumental in determining the goals of the town and what tools the elected officials should adopt to achieve them. Their input is needed on every proposal so that plans and developments reflect the will of the general populace as much as poss ible.
Planning in the town must also fit in with plans developed in the county, the region and the state. The better the plans of a town the more it is able to affect the policies of the larger government agencies.
Planning can become guite complex. Other tools and technigues used in planning are outlined in this manual.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
HOW TO USE THE MANUAL 1
SECTION 1: OVERVIEW 2
SECTION 2: PLANNING AND THE COMMISSION 5
Chapter 1: What is Planning 5
Why the need to plan towns arose 5
Reasons for planning 5
The planning process 6
The legal foundation of planning 8
Myths about planning that need to be dispelled 9
Chapter 2: The Role of the Planning Commission 11
The duties of planning commission 11
Other roles of planning commission 12
Whom does the planning commission represent 12
Qualifications of a planning commission member 12 Orientating new members 13
Learning more about planning 13
SECTION 3: THE WORK OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION - 15
Chapter 3- 1 Comprehensive Plan 16
Legal foundation of the plan 16
Relationship of the Comprehensive Plan 16
to other planning tools
Content of the Plan 17
How the Comprehensive Plan is used 18
2 Housing Plans 20
Purpose of the Plan 20
Government Assistance 20
3 Economic Development Plans 21
Purpose of the Plan 21
Preparing an Economic Development Plan 21
Government Assistance 22
Chapter 4: Implementation Tools Zoning 23
Legal foundation of zoning 23
The need for zoning 23
Objectives of zoning 24
How zoning works 2k
Flexibility in zoning 25
Zoning's shortcomings 25
Planning Unit Development 26
- Problems in regulating PUD's 26
- Reviewing PUD proposals 27
- Points to look for when reviewing a PUD 28
Hints for better zoning 2$
Criteria for evaluating zoning requests 30
1. Zone Change 30
a. rezoning 30
b. downzoning 33
2. Exceptions/Conditiona1 Use/Special Use 3k
3. Variance 35
Chapter 5- Implementation Tools Subdivision Regulations 37
Legal foundations of subdivision regulations 37
The need for subdivision regulations 37
Relationship of subdivision regulations to 38
comprehensive planning and zoning
Subdivision procedures 38
1. Sketch plan 38
2. Preliminary plat 39
3. Final plat 41
Minor or short subdivision review 42
Chapter 6: Implementation Other Tools M
1. Building codes M
2. Official map M
3- Capital improvements program A5
4. Annexation A6
SECTION k: ORGANIZATION, MEETINGS AND DECISIONS *7
Chapter 7: Membership and Organization ^7
Organizing the work of the planning commission ^7
Chapter 8: Public Meetings and hearings 50
Organizing meetings and hearings 50
Some "do's and dont's" of public meetings 53
Chapter 9: Decision Making 5^
The decision 56
A word about applicants 57
Chapter 10: Other People in the Town Involved in Planning
Town Board 58
- Improving the relationship between the 58
Town Board and the Planning Commission
Town Manager 59
Town Clerk 60
- Secretary 60
Planning staff 60
Planning consultant 61
- Choosing a consultant 61
Board of Adjustment 62
Residents of the Town 63
Chapter 11: Other Levels of Planning 66
Levels of Government 66
Importance of Local Planning 67
Appendix: Sample Bylaws 68
SECTION 5: ADDITIONAL TOOLS 72
Chapter 12: Zoning Innovations 72
Floating zones 72
Cluster zoning 72
Performance standards 72
Transferable development rights 73
Specific review districts 74
Permit system 74
Chapter 13: Growth Management 75
Costs and benefits of growth 75
Growth management 76
Legal implications of growth management systems 76
Validity of objectives 77
Reasonableness of means 77
Techniques of managed growth 77
- Short term controls 77
- Long term controls but non-permanent 78
- Permanent long term controls 78
SECTION 6: CASES AND STATUTES 79
Chapter ^k: Court Cases 79
The Taking Issue 79
Colorado Case Law 81
1. Zoning 81
zoning and rezoning 81
reasonableness in zoning 82
highest and best use 82
spot zoning 83
CHAPTER 1 what is planning?
Planning helps people achieve the goals they set for the future. Most businesses plan ahead so that they have the people, resources and finances to meet future demands. In a similar way, towns should plan so that they can deal with problems more effectively and create the type of communities residents want for the future. Town planning in the United States has been widespread since the turn of the century. Colorado towns have the legal power to plan and the courts have continually made sure that plans and tools used by towns are constitutional .
Why the need to plan towns arose:
Once there was plenty of land and natural resources and these could be used freely without adversely affecting other people. The free market system regulated the use of land through prices and independent decisions of property owners. Today great changes in technology, values and population patterns, have led people to believe that the free market system is not adequate on its own to handle the complex problems communities now face. How one person uses his land affects others, and the result of every property owner doing as he pleases with his land may be a community that is chaotic, uses resources inefficiently and meets the aspirations of only a few people.
Early town planning in the United States focused on improving the way land was used in towns. Today, as concern over social, economic and environmental issues increases, the scope of planning has widened to include all aspects of a community. Planning continues to evolve and respond to new issues -- energy, aesthetics, and social services to name a few. However the focus of planning, especially for planning commissions, remains land use planning, but always within the community's social, economic, environmental and financial context, considering what will best meet the community's goals.
Reasons for planning:
1. Planning reconciles competing private and public interests, ensuring that the community as a whole benefits. Thus it is unlikely to please everyone all the time.
Planning helps communities use resources wisely and efficiently, providing order in the development of land and the town, for instance, planning can help indicate what schools utilities and services will be required as a result of new residential construction; it can help determine where these should be located and how they should be paid for.
Planning can be used to encourage economic development or guide impending growth such as energy development so that it is of a type and quality that improves life in the community.
3. Planning shows areas where the government should intervene to provide goods and services inadequately supplied by private enterprise and indicates how a town can best use its financial resources. For instance, usually only a government body can provide an adequate sewage treatment system for a town. Determining when that system should be provided or expanded can be a function of planning.
4. Planning improves the overall quality of life, both present and future. By providing a framework of goals and policies, it aids decision making, allowing towns to make the most of opportunities and avoid unintended and irreversible consequences of our activities.
The planning process:
Undertaking planning in a town can best be thought of in terms of a circle (see diagram below). People in a community research what is happening in their area and discuss what they would like their towns to be like in the future. Any conditions that need to be changed to achieve this are incorporated into plans, and tools are adopted to help the town make these changes. These plans and tools in turn, help the town decide whether proposals for the future will further its broad goals.
Planning is never finished however. People and circumstances change, so the plans and tools adopted by the town must be reviewed regularly to reflect new conditions and ideas.
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Planning is constitutional
Role of courts
In order to be successful, citizens in the town must be involved in the planning process, and elected officials need to always put the interest of the community first.
The Legal Foundation of Planning:
Planning has its legal basis in the U.S. Constitution. Throughout the sixty years or more of modern planning, the court system has continually checked to make sure that only those new ideas and techniques in planning that are constitutional are used.
Police Power: Planning is based on one of the oldest concepts of law, that no man may use his property to injure someone else. Local governments are given the police power to restrict a person's behavior or use of his property in order to promote the health, safety, general welfare and morals of the community. This power must be used reasonably and no compensation is paid for any losses incurred. An example of this is the adoption of zoning.
Eminent domain: The U.S. Constitution limits the actions of governments. In terms of land use, the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments prohibits governments from taking private land for public use wi thout paying the owner compensation. Taking land for public use and paying compensation is termed eminent domain. For further discussion of taking land by governments, see Section 6 "The Taking Issue".
State Enabling Legislation: State legislation has given local governments in Colorado the power to plan their communities and regulate the use of property. This legislation is called state enabling 1 egis-lat ion, and outlines specific powers of towns to form a planning commission, adopt plans, such as the comprehensive plan and tools such as zoning and subdivision regulations (see Section 6 "Colorado Revised Statutes" for a copy of the legislation). The state legislature has also passed two important bills since 1970 which restates the authority of local governments to plan.
House Bill 1034 (see Section 6) clearly states that local governments can:
a. requlate development in hazardous areas.
b. protect land with historic, architectural and archeological importance from development.
c. regulate roads on public lands
d. regulate the location of activities and development which may result in significant changes in population density
e. provide for phased development of services and facilities
f. regulate the use of land to reduce impacts on the community or surrounding areas, to ensure planned and orderly use of land, and to protect the environment
g. use funds for planning.
Local governments were encouraged to enter contracts with other government units in order to jointly plan and develop land.
In the second bill, House Bill 10^1, the state acknowledged that planning in local areas has state wide implications. Local governments are encouraged to designate specific areas and activities that affect the whole state and manage them in such a way as to protect the interests of the state. Through this bi11 funds are made available to local governments to help them carry out planning.
Summary: The important point to remember is that the Constitution supports most regulations of property by government. In Colorado planning and zoning enabling legislation together with HB 103^ and HB 10A1 give local governments the authority to plan their communities. Furthermore, court decisions in the 1970's overwhelmingly support land use regulations based on local regional and state goals and plans.
Myths about Planning that need to be dispelled:
This is a phrase often used by developers, real estate agents and ranchers, especially at public hearings. They maintain that they have the right to use their land in such a way as to maximize their profit. Many court cases have established that there is no constitutional right to use land in order to maximize the landowner's profit.
Use of land in this manner does not take into account the cumulative effects of every property owner attemptint to do the same, nor the effects of this on other people or property. In fact, one of the foundations of law is that no one may use property to injure someone else.
The correct meaning of the term "highest and best use" is the most appropriate use for the town and a particular site in terms of services, location, surrounding uses. etc.
2. "WHAT'S GOOD FOR BUSINESS IS ALWAYS GOOD FOR THE TOWN"
The goal of business is to maximize profit for the individual business owner. Business decisions are made on that basis, and that has gone a long way to make this country materially wealthy. Businesses cannot be expected to know the cumulative effects of their decisions, thus there are some cases where, because of the type of business or the characteristics of the town, decisions made on that basis will not help, but only hurt the town. An example is when the operation of an industry would pollute the town's rivers and therefore its drinking water.
In every case the planning commission considers, it must carefully weigh all the benefits (social, economic and environmental) the town will gain, against all the costs it will have to bear.
If the costs are larger, the proposal should be turned down.
3. "ZONING IS PLANNING"
Zoning is basically regulation; it is one of the means of implementing the comprehensive plan. Planning looks to the future of the community its goals and aspirations for all its activities. Zoning is one of many methods of planning that try to achieve those goals and it does it specifically through regulating the use of land.
A. "PLANNING IS EXPENSIVE"
The purpose of planning is to use resources and opportunities wisely. A town's finances can be used more efficiently if expenditures are based on a coordinated plan. While adding to some costs in the present, planning helps avoid more costly mistakes that are expensive to rectify in the future. These savings that result from planning are often difficult to identify but can be quite substantial. For example, planning may lead to a less expensive, more efficient sewer system for the town. Money saved may be sufficient to pay for the planning program for several years.
5 PLANNING WILL SOLVE ALL THE TOWN'S PROBLEMS
Planning cannot solve all a town's problems. It can aid a town considerably by
-identifying the problems -suggesting solutions
-guiding change and action to lessen those problems or avoid potential difficulties in the future Planning is one of many techniques that a town should use to guide it.
CHAPTER 2 role of the commission
The planning commission is the most visible group responsible for planning in a town. It is a board of residents established to advise the elected officials on planning matters. As the members of the commission are not elected representatives, the commission can play a different role from the elected officials. Because planning affects many people in a town, the commission's activities are often controversial.
The Duties of the Planning Commission:
prepare comprehens i ve plan
update comprehens i ve plan
recommend act ions
Colorado statutes set out the responsibilities of the planning commission (CRS 31"23_201 to 226.See Section 6). When a planning commission is established in a town, its powers and functions will be outlined in the town's Municipal Code. It is suggested that the planning commission members read these statutes periodically to reacquaint themselves with their authority and functions.
Its primary function is to prepare and adopt a comprehens i ve plan for the future of the town (see Section 3 Comprehensive Plan). Once the comprehensive plan has been adopted no public building, public road or utility, park or subdivision can be built,or zoning changed, without the review and approval of the planning commission. If the comprehensive plan has already been adopted, it is the planning commisson's responsibility to update it regularly so that it continually reflects the goals of the community and the current patterns of change.
Often the most controversial role the planning commission plays is that of review body for every planning application made to the town permission to build public facilities, develop subdivisions, or change zoning. The planning commission evaluates information from the applicant, public comments, the views of the business community, and recommendations from town departments and planning staff and makes recommendations to the governing body as to what actions it should take. The planning commission acts as a middleman between the public and the elected officials, spending time researching, studying listening to public comment, tasks which the elected officials because of their large number of responsibilities, do not have as much time to do.
The planning commission asks detailed questions of a developer and other interested parties so that it has all the information it needs to ensure the community's interest is protected. In this way it acts as an extension of the local elected officials, doing the
effects on neighboring areas
future or i entat ion
represents the whole commun i ty
commi ttment to plan
research and asking the questions. The planning commission can pull together the different sides of an issue and try to reach an acceptable middle ground.
Other Roles of the Planning Commission:
^|^Vital to any planning process is citizen involvement and input. The planning commission should actively seek this input. It can then act as a feedback mechanism, informing the town board as to what the community feels, what people want, and where the community's long range best interests lie. To help achieve this the planning commission members should become members of other groups within the town, or attend their meetings. The planning commission can also be an advocate for social issues and social change within the town.
The planning commission should be aware of activities in neighboring areas, suggesting action to minimize any adverse effects of these activities and using opportunities to the town's advantage. When making recommendations, planning commissions should always bear in mind possible effects they might have on neighboring areas.
The taking a
planning commission should work with the elected officials, long range, future oriented approach to problems.
Whom does the Planning Commission Represent?
A planning commission member does not have a particular electorate as does an elected official. The planning commission represents the whole community and is advisory to the elected officials. Its principle responsibility is neither to the developer nor to the applicant. Primarily, it is responsible to the best long run interests of the community.
Qualifications of a Planning Commission Member:
*The most important qualification that a commission member must have is a belief that planning should be carried out. There are many opinions as to what is good planning and on this the planning commission need not (and probably will not) agree. What they must all have, however, is a commitment to plan.
*Planning Commission members must be willing to devote cons?der-able amounts of time and energy to the job.
*They must be willing to be objective and make decisions that further the best interests of the whole community. They must be open minded, willing to learn and to change their ideas in the light of new evidence.
^Planning Commission members must have an ability to get to and grasp the essential facts and issues of a problem and not get way-layed by side issues. They must have the strength to make decisions.
*A Planning Commission member should not be over-extended
i.e. a member of so many groups, boards or commissions that it is impossible for them to make decisions because of representing too many conflicting and competing interests or having too little time for meetings.
*Planning Commissions should have members from as diverse backgrounds as possible. Different interests in the town should be represented so that all viewpoints can be included in the decision making.
conflict of ^Conflict of interest. There are situations when a planning
interest commission member should not participate in the decision making.
When a member stands to gain or lose money as a result of a planning commission decision, the member should stand down and not participate in the discussion or voting.
Similarly planning commission members should not make any presentation before the commission on behalf of a developer, or any subdivision request of zoning amendment where they themselves have a financial interest.
Orientating new members:
An existing planning commission member should take responsibi 1ity for acquainting the new member with the activities of the commission. For the first few meetings the new member should sit beside a commissioner who can explain procedures and terms. As a minimum, new members should be given the following to read:
*The Planning Commission Handbook *The Comprehensive Plan *The Zoning Ordinance *The Subdivision Regulations
New members should also be alerted to the existence of any other reports related to planning in the town.
Learning more about planning:
Land use planning is a complex subject that is constantly changing and developing new techniques. The following are some ideas as to how the planning commission can learn more about planning and the factors which should be considered when making decisions.
Organize field trips to other towns to learn how they handled problems. Visit examples of the type of development proposals you are considering, so that you can envision what they may be like, and how they could affect the town.
--Organize workshops on different issues, research and discuss them in depth.
Invite speakers to come and address the planning commission on subjects it needs to know about. Good choices are people from town departments, such as the fire chief or police chief, or people in state departments, such as the water conservation board. They can alert planning commission members as to the types of questions they should be asking and factors to consider when making decisions.
Set up a paogram of regular sessions to study particular problems and keep to it. Invite the elected officials and the public to attend also. One method may be to begin meetings one hour early, and use the first hour for education.
Regularly reread the statutes, town ordinances relevant to the commission, the comprehensive plan, the zoning ordinance and subdivision regulations.
The planning commission should take out a membership in the American Planning Association and/or the Urban Land Institute. Both organizations put out regular publications and hold conferences that can help keep the planning commission up to date with new ideas and techn i ques.
The Planning Commission is advisory only; it does not act. It can only forward recommendations on planning matters to the elected officials who then take action. The Planning Commission is only one of the groups involved in the planning process (see Section k).
This is sometimes difficult for planning commissions to accept. However as the planning commission makes its recommendations known, the commission is offering informed advice and alternatives to the public agencies that will resolve the issue.
CHAPTER 3 plans
Preparing plans is one vital function of the planning commission. Plans shows what the community wants for the future, providing guidelines to help the planning commission and elected officials make decisions that will bring the town closer to those goals.
The most important plan is the Comprehensive Plan. From this, other more detailed plans can be developed. This section describes the comprehensive plan as well as two other types of plans housing and economic development that the planning commission can play an instrumental role in preparing. There are many others, such as air quality plans, transportation plans and recreation plans.
A comprehensive plan is a coordinated, long range guide for future development of a town. All planning decisions must be made in accordance with policies in the comprehensive plan. It is essential that the plan be:
a. Comprehensive, encompassing all aspects of development in a community, physical, social and economic,
b. General in nature, summarizing policies and proposals but not indicating specific courses of action, and
c. Long range, looking beyond present concerns to what is desired for the future of the community.
The plan must be suited to present and expected future needs, in scale wi th the population, economic prospects of the community and its present and projected financial resources.
Legal Foundation of the Plan
role of The Colorado statutes give planning commission's authority to
planning prepare and adopt a comprehensive plan after making studies of the commission town and considering its future. The plan must consider conditions
in the district of which the town is a part. As conditions change both within the town and around it, the planning commission must update it to meet the needs.
The statutes outline the following purpose of the plan:
"The plan shall be made with the general purpose of guiding and accomplishing a coordinated, adjusted, and harmonious development of the municipality and its environs which will, in accordance with present and future needs, best promote health, safety, morals, order, convenience, propserity, and general welfare, as well as efficiency and economy in the process of development, including, among other things, adequate provision for traffic, the promotion of safety from fire, flood waters, and other dangers, adequate provision for 1ight and air, the promotion of healthful and convenient distribution of population, the promotion of good civic design and arrangement, wise and efficient expenditure of publ?c funds, and the adequate provision of public utilities, and other public requi rements."
The Relationship of the Comprehensive Plan to other Planning Tools:
The comprehensive plan is the foundation of all other planning. The zoning ordinance, subdivision regulations, official map, capital improvements program and budget and other development plans and techniques are all measures designed to implement the comprehensive plan.
Other matters requiring the approval of elected officials, such as rezoning and variance applications, subdivision plat review, public works and land acquisition should all be reviewed in the light of the comprehensive plan.
Contents of the Plan
The statutes outline generally the content and format of a plan.
It can include written material such as policies and also maps and charts which show the planning commission's recommendations as to how the area should develop. These recommendations can cover such things as:
a. the location and development of the transportation network (streets, bridges, airports, etc.),
b. parks and open space,
c. pubi ic utilities water, sewer, power and communication,
d. land uses.
e. It can also include a zoning map,
f. policies should be developed on the economic development
of the town, the future population, the provision of publ ic services and faci1ities such as schools, libraries, programs for the elderly or youth, housing, and other topics that are important to the town such as growth management, energy development or historic preservation steps in preparing a plan.
There are three basic steps involved in preparing the comprehensive plan.
1. Information about the town must be gathered. This might include data on the history of the town, its population economic base, transport facilities streets, etc., utilities water, sewer, electricity, parks and recreation faci1ities, public faci 1 i -
ties and services, land use, housing, and the natural environment.
2. This information together with input from residents can identi fy existing and potential problems in the town. Residents must also decide what they desire for the future of the town,
set goals for the town's development, and priorities on alleviating problems. 3
3- Policies are developed and adopted which indicate how the town intends to meet its goals and deal with Its problems.
Residents, elected officials, the planning commission, government departments and technical experts are all involved in determing these policies and determining what kind of community they want in the future. The more participation that takes place the more relevant the policies will be to the needs of the town. Participation increases the success of the plan and its implementation.
How the Comprehensive Plan is Used
1. Determing policy:
The plan states long range policies for the future social and physical development of the area, promoting the interests of the community rather than that of special groups of individuals. Strong policies and equally strong regulations adopted to implement them will make the plan more successful. As conditions such as the size of the population or values of residents change the planning commission should revise the policies. Often this is done every 5 years, although amendments to the plan can be made by the planning commission at any time. The comprehensive plan is more a continuing process than a final product.
2. Implementing policy:
The comprehensive plan provides a basic framework for elected officials to make decisions on specific development proposals.
The plan ensures that the day to day decisions are all consistent with what the community wants for the future, moving the community close to that goal.
Developers, and others concerned with the development of a community learn from the comprehensive plan what types of projects and proposals are likely to be acceptable to the community. People involved in development are better able to anticipate the decisions of the town board, thus reducing their economic risks and costs. It is therefore essential that the plan should be readily available and written so that it is easily understood.
During the process of developing the comprehensive plan, residents ,el ected officials, the planning commission and staff are all made aware of the values of the community and the social, economic and physical development problems and opportunities that face it.
The comprehensive plan encourages coordination in the location of public facilities such as roads, parks, utilities and schools, which are often provided by agencies or districts outside the town government. Development decisions made in the private sector are also better coordinated and piecemeal, inefficient development can be avoided.
6. Court decisions:
When courts are required to rule on the legality of a regulation or its implementation, their decision is guided by the comprehensive plan. Regulations which conform to a plan are more likely to be upheld than those which vary from a plan or are not based on any plan at all.
7. Federal funds:
The federal government often requires that a town adopt a comprehensive plan before it will allocate federal funds to the town.
2. HOUSING PLANS:
hous i ng authority
C.D. Block Grant ing Assistance Plan
Purpose of the Plan:
Housing plans are more detailed than the housing section in a comprehensive plan. Its purpose is to pinpoint housing problems that the town needs to address and make suggestions as to how the town can remedy those problems.
Preparing a housing plan often towns will form a housing authority to take responsibility .for preparing and implementing the plan. Otherwise the planning commission can take this responsibility. When developing a housing plan these are the first questions that need to be answered:
quality of existing houses--e.g. what condition are they in?
Do they have adequate plumbing? heating? insulation?
Are they structurally sound?
number of existing housese.g. are there enough units? Are there enough rental units? Are there enough units for low and moderate income families and elderly people? Are there enough multifamily units?
Studying the housing in the town in this way will probably uncover some problems. The town then has to decide which of those problems it is going to try to overcome, and how it proposes to do so.
To help towns, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development makes funds available for housing through several programs. The Community Development Block Grant funds programs that focus on improving the living conditions of low and moderate income families. To obtain these funds the town has to prepare a Housing Assistance Plan. It must answer the questions above and explain'what tbe;:town' intends to do in terms of:
providing rental units rehabilitating older houses
improving or increasing housing for people with low and moderate incomes.
These funds can be used for a variety of things, not just housing, e.g. providing parking in low income neighborhoods, and buying parks. The money cannot be used for such things as constructing schools or municipal office buildings.
HUD also makes money available for public housing, subsidizing rental units built by private builders, and loans for rehabilitating existing houses.
Stud i es
deci sions and goals
In addition, the State of Colorado has a Division of Housing and a Housing Finance Authority. Both have grant money available and can give assistance in obtaining funds for housing.
If the town intends to do a housing plan, it should contact all of these three agencies first.
3. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PLAN Purpose of the Plan:
Economic development plans focus on improving the economy of the town. Its purposes can be many and varied, such as:
increasing the overall number of businesses in the town,
increasing the range of businesses and services in the town,
e.g. more commercial or industrial firms, more banks, a resident doctor, etc.,
reducing unemployment in the town,
increasing jobs for particular types of workers, such as
school leavers, .women and older people,
improving the town's tax base so that it earns more revenue,
increasing the incomes of people in the town.
Preparing an Economic Development Plan:
The first step to putting together an economic plan is to establish a group of citizens such as the planning commission that will take responsibility for coordinating preparation of the plan.
It should involve not only residents, but also local business people such as the Chamber of Commerce, professional clubs and local banks.
Firstly, the town's economy must be studied the businesses it has, what workers are available, how much unemployment there is in the town, what the level of income is, etc. The resources of the town should be studied, too. What land is vacant in the town? What capital improvements and utilities does the town have? What is the sales tax and property tax income? The res idents and elected officials of the town must then decide what problems it has, and agree on priorities, as to which problems it wishes to focus on. What kinds of businesses, services and employment do they wish to encourage? What does that mean to the town?
The next step is to look at ways these goals can be achieved, and sources of funds to help implement these ideas. The goa1s the town sets must be tailored to its resources, its unique characteristics, and the funding it can obtain. For instance, there is no point in trying to attract large industries if the town does not have adequate utilities to service them, and when the town's potential for economic development lies in tourism.
CHAPTER 4 tools zoning
Zoning is but one aspect of planning even though it takes up much of the time of the planning commission. It is one method of implementing the policies and goals for the comprehensive plan.
Zoning is the legal regulation by local governments, of the use of private and publicly owned land, and the manner in which buildings are constructed on this land.
Police The authority to zone comes from the 1police power1 provisions
power of the Constitution. Local governments can regulate land as long as it promotes the public health, safety, welfare and morals. In the historic court case that established the validity of zoning, Ambler Realty Co. v Village of Euclid, Ohio, the decision stated that
"Each community has the right and responsibility to determine its own character and as long as that determination did not disturb the orderly growth of the region or nation, it has a valid use of the police power."
However, use of this authority must be reasonable, fairly applied and grant property owners 'due process.1
Colorado Colorado statutes allow local governments, through zoning, to
statutes regulate and restrict:
1. the height, number of stories and size of buildings and other structures,
2. the percentages of the lot that may be occupied,
3. the size of yards, courts and other open spaces,
4. the density of population, and
5. the location and use of buildings and land for trade, industry, residence or other purposes.
(See Section 6, CRS 31-23-301)
The Need for Zoning
Zoning developed in response to problems created by concentrations of people living in cities. Activities that are acceptable in rural areas or small towns, such as keeping pigs, are considered nuisances in cities. Also the dangers of disease, crime, fire and
Incompati ble land uses
Zone d i stricts
Regulation of zones
injury from traffic increase rapidly as cities grow. For instance, in the last l800's in San Francisco, several serious fires occurred because laundries with wood stoves were located in areas densely built with wooden buildings. Zoning developed as a method of not only protecting people from these dangers but also to try and prevent dangers and inappropriate land uses from developing.
Objectives of Zoning:
Overall, the objectives of zoning are to prevent conflicts between incompatible land uses (i.e. land uses that have adverse effects onothers) and to help a community guide development into suitable areas. More specifically, its purposes include the follow ing:
to insure there is adequate space for different land uses in a community.
to control the density of development in the community so that adequate facilities and services such as streets, schools and utility streams can be provided.
to direct new growth into appropriate areas.
to insure that development provides adequate light, air and privacy for people living and working within the community. to protect and maintain property values.
--to preserve and develop the economic base of the community.
How Zoning Works:
Usually zoning is applied in the following way:
1. The community is divided into different districts according to the major activities that are taking place, and the suitability of the land. The three most common districts are residential, commercial and industrial.
2. Different population densities and different uses are allowed in each district or 'zone.1 Each district will have specific regulations governing the height, size, and setback of buildings and structures constructed on land within the district. "Within such districts" the governing body "may regulate and restrict the erection, construction, reconstruction, alteration, repair or use of buildings, structures or land. All such regulations shall be uniform for each class or kind of buildings throughout each district, but the regulations in one district may differ from those in other districts." (CRS 31-23~302) The size and location of districts and their respective standards will be determined in accordance with policies in the comprehensive plan.
Zoning 3- Description of all districts, uses allowed in them, standards
ordinance governing them and their location, are included in the zon ing
ordinance. The ordinance will often contain a zoning map showing the location of each zone in the town. All development and construction must conform to regulations outlined in the ordinance. Penalties for violation or non-compliance are outlined in the ordinance.
Flexibility in Zoning:
. Situations arise where the ordinance cannot be strictly applied. This can be because of conditions of the land, unusual circumstances that were not evident when the ordinance was adopted, or new conditions that the ordinance cannot adapt to. Procedures have been developed to deal with these, the most common being rezoning (the zoning of a piece of property is changed to another classification), variance (specific requirements of a zone district are changed on a case by case basis) and special uses (uses allowed in the district but only after specific criteria are met and permission granted by the governing body).
Criteria to evaluate these applications are outlined on pages 30 to 36 .
The biggest criticism of zoning is that it is too rigid to deal with the different needs of communities; it cannot respond quickly to changes. Interrelated activities are segregated by zoning, requiring people to travel long distances to take care of their daily requirements. A good example is the removal of shopping areas from residential districts. Now, in order to do shopping one must drive rather than walk. Many critics claim that this segregation of our daily activities has led to dul1, monotonous and wasteful townscapes. It may be as some critics say, the problems that exist in our towns and cities today are different from those that zoning was intended to rectify, and that it is no longer an appropriate tool.
Too often the ordinance or its administration is ?nadequate.
This may occur if the ordinance is adopted before the comprehensive plan and its objectives never clearly defined. Too many variances and rezonings are permitted, defeating any effectiveness of the ordinance.
The zoning ordinance must be updated regularly so that it is always consistent with the goals of the comprehensive plan and responds to changes in the town.
Techniques have been developed in an effort to improve zoning or provide alternatives to it. One important new technique is the planned unit development. The following section describes the planned unit development. Some other techniques are outlined in Section 5.
Planned Unit Development PUD
A PUD is a land development project which is planned as an entity, grouping dwelling units into clusters, allowing land for open space, mixing housing types and at times other land uses such as commercial and industrial and preserving unique natural features. A simple PUD may contain a number of houses of the same type combined with common open space. A complex PUD may include a variety of housing types detached single family homes; town houses; apartments -- combined with open space, recreation facilities such as tennis courts, and swimming pool, schools, shopping and industrial areas.
Zon i ng ord i nance
Approving a PUD occurs in two steps. Firstly the governing body has to adopt zoning regulations creating a PUD district. The governing body sets the standards which must be met and procedures to be followed before a PUD is approved. Secondly, a specific PUD proposal meeting all required standards and procedures is reviewed and approved by the governing body, which then amends the zoning ordI nance. The zoning in the proposal becomes the zoning for the land and can only be changed through rezoning procedures. A public hearing must be held before the governing body can amend the zoning ordinance and approve the PUD. Development standards for PUD's are often more stringent than those for conventional subdivisions. For instance there may be a minimum set on the amount of land for such a project, and a maximum percentage of the land which can be covered by buildings; it may set requirements for road systems, drainage systems, water and sewage systems, open space, lighting, parking, traffic control and screening, planting and landscaping to protect adjacent property. These standards will be outlined in the zoning ord i nance.
Problems in Regulating PUD's
There are special problems for towns not experienced in regulating PUD's. They include the following:
*Many zoning and subdivision ordinances do not have any relevant standards for clustering or the mix of uses on a single piece of land that is typical of a PUD.
*PUD's are sometimes more risky economically than conventional subdivisions. Open space and recreation facility maintenance can become expensive if home sales are too low. The local government may then be pressured into taking over these facilities as public activities.
*PUDs are often built in phases. If after building the first phase, the developer wishes to change the remainder of the plan (due to changes in expectations or the market) the whole review process must be begun again.
*lt is difficult for a small jurisdiction without planning staff to determine how many units should be built and what sized areas of land should be allowed for the different uses the developer is proposing. The jurisdiction must take care not to allow overbuilding that is not consistent with the comprehensive plan or in keeping with the character of the area.
*A jurisdiction must also be alert for developers who offer unbuildable waste land as open space in order to increase the density on buildable areas.
Reviewing PUD Proposals:
A planned unit development proposal should be reviewed in the three step procedure similar to that used to review subdivision proposals. Fundamental to this process is the negotiation between the developer and the planning commission. The PUD Ordinance usually sets out general criteria, leaving the planning commission with plenty of room to negotiate with the developer on details. In this way the planning commission can ensure that any negative impacts on the town are minimized, and opportunities for the town to benefit from the development are maximized.
The three steps are 1) the preapplication conference or sketch plan review, 2) preliminary development plan, and 3) final development plan.
1) In the preapplication conference stage the developer tells the planning staff (or planning commission if there is no staff) of the idea for the proposal and is in turn informed of the requirements which must be met. If there is no staff and the planning commission
Sketch plan has sole responsibility for review of the proposal, a sketch plan at this stage may help the planning commission determine if the proposal should go ahead. Nothing at this stage is legally binding, but if there are obvious overwhelmingly circumstances that would force the planning commission to not approve the proposal at a later stage, then the developer should be told.
2) The preliminary deveicpment plan stage is the most important because a major portion of the project review is undertaken. Formal application for a PUD is made, supported by written documents such as a site master plan, breakdown of proposed land uses and housing types, location of utilities and natural features. It is at this
negotiation stage that major negotiation takes place ~~ zoning suitability to surrounding land, phasing, the number and types of units, size and location of different land uses, size of open space dedication, exterior design to name a few. All changes, tradeoffs or conditions should be recorded in writing.
3) After the preliminary plan is approved the developer may wish phasing to bring phases or parts of the PUD for negotiation and approval of
final details. The final development plan will probably not vary substantially from the preliminary plan, but it is the last opportunity
for negotiation. Following formal approval of the final plan, the planned unit development is recorded as the zoning and the approval is complete.
Comprehens i ve pi an
self-suffi ci ent
Utilities S services
restrict ions homeowners associations guarantees
Points to Look for When Reviewing a PUD
Commissions should check the following special points when reviewing a PUD.
*The proposal must conform to the Comprehensive plan. The comprehensive plan should be.revised to indicate where PUDs will be permitted. This will be determined by the suitability of land, proposed locations of open space, trails, bikeways, schools, shopping and industrial areas, and also the capacity of major streets and utilities.
*Site plans, floor plans and elevations for all structures to be established on the site, all existing landscaping as well as any to be installed, all trails, paths, bikeways and other access connecting the homes to the open spaces and common recreation facilities, should be checked at the final review stage of each phase. Each phase should be self-sufficient in terms of access, circulation, drainage, open space and other public facilities so that the community will not have to make improvements or provide facilities if later phases are not bu i 11.
*PUDs should be located in relation to public services and utilites so that taxpayers are not forced to foot the bill for the costs of the new development.
*Adequate town water to supply the development mustrbe-avai1 -able or additional water supplied by the developer.
*PUDs are an amendment to the zoning map conditioned by the following deed restrictions, or agreements for maintenance of the common facilities and open space by a homeowner's association guarantees bonds, etc.) by the developer for the completion of the development in accordance with the master plan; and an agreement binding subsequent owners who may take over completion of the development to the conditions of the plan approval.
Hints for Better Zoning:
*Periodically review and update the zoning ordinance.
The ordinance nneds to be revised regularly so that it reflects the values and desires of the community. Regular update will also keep the ordinance abreast of changes in the development of the town
Board of adjustment
Design Review Board
and new planning techniques. The zoning ordinance will thus be a more responsibe and effective tool in guiding land use.
Too often planning commissions get bogged diwn with variance requets, leaving little time or energy for the actual planning which is the planning commission's prime function. Considering variance requests is the responsibility of the Board of Adjustment (See Section 4). It is important that this board be established so that the commission can get on with its planning tasks.
Jurisdictions have the right to adopt regulations controlling signs, as part of the zoning ordinance. Implementation of a sign code can go a long way to improving the appearance of a town, helping preserve its unique character.
Codes can limit the size, height, placement and lighting of signs in the town.
Many towns, especially those with unique architectural or historic character, have established design or architectural standards to ensure that new buildings are in keeping with the character of the old; or to avoid the mass produced look that accompanies national franchises (especially food franchises). Professional help, often not available outside urban areas, is required for setting up the design criteria and reviewing proposals. If, however, it is important to the community that its character be preserved it is well worth the expense involved to employ a professional consultant on a retainer basis. Design standards should be clearly written into the zoning ordinance, with the design review of proposals occurring during subdivision review. Design review is best limited to areas of major importance, such as downtown areas, historic areas or those with important views, where design controls can be clearly tied to a public purpose. This review should be the responsibility of a design review board. These questions should be looked at during review:
1) Relationship to surroundings: Is the new structure a good neighbor to earlier structures? Is it in scale, harmonious in bulk, height, landscaping and colors?
2) Protection of amenities: Are views, public spaces, pedestrian pathways and important signs left clear? Area historic landmarks and areas disrupted? Does the proposal create an unsafe or unpleasant area (dark at night, litter, noise or garbage)?
Applicants should have the right to appeal design reviews to the elected officials.
Criteria for Evaluating Zoning Requests
The zoning ordinance should outline the criteria to be used when evaluating applications. The planning commission should refer to the zoning ordinance when evaluating applications. The following are some criteria which can be used as guidelines.
1. Zone Change
a. Rezon i ng.
Explanat ion; A rezoning action by the planning commission and governing body involves changing a zone classification and therefore the permitted uses of a piece of property usually at the request of the property owner.
The most common reason for requesting a zone change is in order for the property owner to enjoy greater economic benefits. A rezoning can be initiated by the property owner, the planning commission, town board, or any other person.
A. The courts have established several important criteria to be used when evaluating a rezoning request:
In i t iation by town
1. The proposed rezoning must be consistent with the comprehensive plan. In addition to proving this, the applicant must show e i ther that:
a. there was an error in the original zoning that necessitates a zone change, or
b. circumstances in the neighborhood have changed signifi-cantly or there is substantial need in the community which warrants the zone change.
Modification of the comprehensive plan by the Town may be sufficient proof of changed circumstances.
2. In order to prove error in the current zoning, the applicant must prove that it is not possible to use and develop the property for any other use allowed by the existing zone clas-si f ications.
3. Where there is no possible use of the land under current zoning, the town is legally obligated to change the zoning; it is not obiigated to change the zoning of the land to the classification requested. The Planning Commission can consider intermediate classifications. Responsibility lies with the applicant to prove that it is not possible to use and develop the land for any intermediary uses permitted in zones between the zone classification sought and the existing zoning.
4. The only reason for the town to initiate rezoning is to bring the rezoning into compliance with the comprehensive plan.
Other B. cri teria
Cond i t ional zon i ng
It is important that the following criteria are considered at the time of a rezoning application, because the Planning Commission and Town Board can impose conditions on the rezoning in order to alleviate any adverse effects the rezoning might have on the town. Safeguards to ensure compliance with the comprehensive plan can also be imposed. This is called conditional zoning.
The Planning Commission should check the following:
The maximum amount of development -- residential, commerciaj, industrial or other which could be built on the area if rezoned. This would include the maximum number of lots and dwelling units, etc. These figures should be compared with those allowed under the present zoning and effects evaluated. Check if the rezoning would be compatible with surrounding uses.
Env i ronment:
Physical constraints of the property such as unstable soils, underlying bedrock, slopes, floodplains, drainage ditches, height of water table, wildlife danger, and the possible effects this would have on development.
The anticipated school age population of the area if it was developed under existing zoning and if it was developed under the proposed zoning.
The existing school facilities that serve the property in question and the impact the proposed rezoning would have on these facilities if the impact is negative. Check what measures would be required to alleviate the impact.
Traffic and Transport:
The expected impact on traffic and the transportation system (streets, sidewalks, parking, etc.) of the town that would result from the rezoning as compared to development at the existing zoning. In particular, relating increases in traffic to existing street capabilities, streets that would need improving or widening as a result, new streets and bridges required to be constructed; possible conflicts between vehicles and pedestrian and bike traffic; additional controlled intersections required; effect of increased traffic and noise on character of neighborhood, etc.
The impact on emergency services of the proposed rezoning compared to development at existing zoning. Evaluate whether existing
facilities would be able to service the area, whether they would need to be expanded, or new facilities constructed and where these would be located.
The sewage treatment service available to the area -- the present load and capacity and obligations of the town to provide future service to other areas. Is any unused capacity available and is that sufficient to service the expected uses after rezoning? Evaluate the lo-ation of the property in relation to treatment facilities and whether servicing is feasible; will additional pipes or interceptors be required? Are there alternatives to town service; what are the consequences of using alternatives?
Availability of other utilities such as electricity, gas, and telephone to service the proposed intensity of use if the rezoning is a 1 lowed.
The water service available to the property, including total capacity of the present system, current demand, available capacity to service the property, problems associated with servicing it and any expansion or additional facilities that would be required in order to service the property if rezoned.
Overall impact on the town if the rezoning is permitted compared to impacts arising if the property is developed at the existing zoning, e.g., effect on community facilities, park and recreation facilities, character of adjacent neighborhood and overall character of the town.
Considering all the impacts that may occur, determine who will have the responsibility for paying for the improvement. Evaluate whether the town, if called upon, has the resources to invest in these improvements in the light of its commitments of other projects in different areas of the town.
Other departments and agencies which should be notified and asked for comments on a proposed rezoning:
1. Town departments, e.g. police, fire and public works
2. Town's planner 3- School District
k. Recreation District/Board 5- County Health Department
6. County Planning Department
7. Public Service Company
0. Mountain Bel 1
9. Colorado Division of Highways
10. State Water Resources Board
11. State Engineer
12. State Planning Office
Any recommendations from these agencies should be heard at the public hear i ngs.
Important points to remember when considering rezoning requests
1. The Planning Commission and Town Board's final decision must be reasonable in the light of the request made and evidence presented to it. (A court can test the decision as to its reasonableness and whether the Toan Board has exceeded its jurisdiction.)
2. Maintaining stabi1i ty and values in surrounding properties based on existing zoning regulations are prime reasons for denying zone change requests.
3. Granting a rezoning request does not guarantee approval of a subdivision proposal. Each application should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
A. Courts will not uphold rezoning decisions that constitute spot zoning. The test as to whether a decision involves spot zoning is whether the change was made for the purpose of furthering the comprehensive plan or designed merely to relieve a particular property owner from the restrictions of the zoning regulations.
5- If rezoning by the town reduces the value of the property so that no reasonable use of the property is allowed, the courts will label that a "taking" of the land and rule the rezoning invalid.
Downzon i ng:
Explanation: Downzoning is the legal process used to lower
the amount and type of development permitted on a particular piece of property. It can be used to change zoning that allowed development too intense for the land, or not in keeping with goals of the community. However, downzoning is unlikely to be greeted favorably by landowners who face the possibility of a decrease in the value of the land. Moreover, care must be taken to ensure the downzoning is legally defensible. If the following five points are satisfied the downzoning is likely to be legal.
Board of adjustment
Board of adjustment
*The change is in keeping with the character of surrounding areas.
*The downzoning conforms to the Comprehensive Plan.
*There were mistakes in the original zoning which justify downzoning.
*The "public" benefit derived from downzoning outweighs the damage (reduction in property values) suffered by the property owner.
*The downzoning leaves a property owner with some "reasonable" use of his land.
2. Exceptions/Conditional Use/Special Use
These 3 terms are often used interchangeably, yet their meanings are slightly different.
Except ion. This is a special exception to the terms of the ordinance, that is included in the text of the ordinance at the time it is written. These are uses or lots that are permitted as a matter of right even though they may not meet the required standards of the ordinance. Because the specific cases that are exceptions are written into the ordinance it is not a non-conforming use.
Conditional Use. There are uses that are necessary in some types of zone districts but if safeguards were not taken, neighbors might be adversely affected. For every zone district, the ordinance can list uses that will be allowed only after certain conditions, also stated in the ordinance, are met. These conditions are designed to safeguard neighboring properties. For example: In a single family residential zone, single family homes and schools may be listed permitted outright but churches or day care centers may be listed as conditional uses allowed to be built if specific conditions are met. Usually a public hearing will be held to gather the concerns of neighbors. But once the cond i t ions stated in the zoning ordinance are met, the Board of Adjustment must issue a cond i t iona1 use permit, a 1 lowing the use.
Special Use. This is a broader version of a conditional use. Again certain uses are allowed under specific circumstances, but in addition to meeting criteria outlined in the zoning ordinance, the Board of Adjustment is given discretion to evaluate the overall effect of the proposed use on the area. The ordinance will probably limit the amount of discretion the Board of Adjustment has.
Explanation: A variance is permission granted by the Board of Adjustment on a case by case basis to vary provisions of the zoning regulations when strict application of the regulations would cause exceptional practical difficulties or undue hardship to the property owner. Property standards of the ordinance (e.g.sfet backs, rights-of way, lot area, yard size, building height) are adjusted because the specific location, topography, shape or size of the lot make it impossible to comply with the zoning regulations as they stand. The property owner must show that he/she is complies with the provisions of the ordinance he/she cannot get a reasonable financial return from, or make any reasonable use of the property. The variance allows a property owner to use his land at the same intensity or develop it for the same uses allowed others in that zone.
A. The courts have established several criteria to be used when evaluating variance applications:
1. A variance can only be granted if it is not detrimental to the public health, safety, and welfare arid if it conforms to the purposes and intent of the comprehensive plan, future land use map, and zoning ordinance. For instance, the courts have established that variances which allow for the expansion of a non-conforming use cannot be granted.
effect on neighboring propert i es
2. The Board of Adjustment must take care when grainting a variance to ensure that justice has been done. In other words, the effect on neighboring properties must be considered and if more harm is done to them by grainting the variance than would be done to the applicant by denying it, the variance should be denied.
hardsh i p
3. The hardship caused must be peculiar to the property of the applicatn, i.e., it must be site specific. If the difficulty is neighborhood-wide the proper action is to amend the zoning ordinance, not grant a variance.
k. The hardship complained of must result from the application of the ordinance and not a deed restriction or some other problem with the property.
self-i nf1ected hardshi p
cond i t ions
5. The hardship must not have been created by the applicant.
For instance, if an applicant buys property knowing that zoning restrictions would prevent him from using it the way he wants, the hardship is self-inflicted and not sufficient reason to grant a zoning variance.
6. The Board of Adjustment has power to place cond ? t ions on the granting of a variance and the property owner must comply with these conditions.
Other cri teria
B. Other criteria to be used when evaluating variance applications
1. The property owner/applicantmust show that the property cannot be developed in conformity with the regulations.
2. The variance granted is the minimum variance necessary to give relief.
3. The variance, if granted, will* not alter the character of the district or affect the appropriate use of adjacent-property in the same district.
k. The variance runs with the land. When the land is sold, the variance remains with the property and is not transferable to another parcel.
In order to ascertain whether these criteria are met, recommendations and comments on the effects of the proposed variance should be sought from the following parties and considered prior to any decision by the Board of Adjustment.
Whether these departments are consulted will depend on the size and nature of each variance request and is at the discretion of the Board of Adjustment.
l. Town Departments -- public works, police, fire
2. Public Service Company
3 Hountain Bell
h. Colorado Highway Department
5- County Health Department
6. County Planning Department
7. County Engineering Department (when variance to floodplain
restrictions is sought)
tools subdivision rsgulcitions
Subdivision is the division of land into two or more lots. Adopting regulations to control land subdivision, ensures the orderly economic and safe development of land, services and utilities.
Legal Foundation of Subdivision Regulations
Police Subdivision regulations are an exercise of police power. Autho-
power rity for municipalities and counties in Colorado to adopt subdivision regulations are granted by state enabling legislation.
The Enabling Legislation for municipalities (CRS 13959 12. through plat 25; see Section 6) states that no plat of a subdivision within the
municipality can be recorded with the county clerk until it has been planning approved by the planning commission. Before a planning commission
commission can approve a plat it must adopt, publish and distribute subdivision
regulations providing for adequate streets, and open space for traffic, utilities, fire fighting equipment, recreation, light and air and to avoid overcrowding. It can specify minimum areas and width of lots. These regulations are to be in conformance with the comprehensive plan and the zoning ordinance.
The statutes also set out the review procedure and penalties incurred by developers or landowners who sell lots in a subdivision not approved by the commission.
The Need for Subdivision Regulations:
Subdivision controls grow out of a need to protect land buyers and the general public. In the late 19th century industrial towns, plats were drawn that gave no regard to appropriate street widths, lot sizes or utilities or how the plat fitted with existing or future development. The 1920's were marked by uncontrolled land speculation stimulated in part by the widespread use of the car. Demand for suburban land burgeoned, causing the development of many rural fringe areas. Often these developments were premature, improvements were minimal and subdivisions did not provide for school sites, community facilities, recreation areas or adequate traffic circulation. To many municipalities the costs of providing services far exceeded revenue received (in terms of taxes), placing the municipalities under severe financial burdens.
comprehens ive plan
Zon i ng
Unless a municipality or county adopted subdivision controls, little could be done to prevent over platting or premature development, sub-standard lots, or negative effects on the environment. Modern subdivision controls emphasize the quality of improvements, control over the location and timing of new subdivisions, and shifting a greater share of the costs of improvements from the community to the builder. Overriding concern is with the way the subdivision fits into the overall pattern of urban growth in the area.
The Relationship of Subdivision Regulations to Comprehensive Planning and Zoning
The major purpose of subdivision regulations is to carry out a portion of the comprehensive plan; it ensures that presently undeveloped areas will conform to the objectives of the comprehensive plan. New subdivisions can be coordinated with one another and the community's existing pattern of streets and utilities, its plans for future public facilities and land needs. For instance, regulations often specify that a proportion of the land must be set aside for parks and schools. The regulations are more likely to be upheld in court if based on policies in the Comprehensive Plan.
Zoning establ?shes permitted land uses based on the Comprehensive Plan; subdivision regulations outline standards which must be met and the review process to be followed before approval is granted to develop the land for the uses permitted by the zoning ordinance.
Review procedures and standards are outlined in the town's subdivision regulations.
Review of a subdivision is normally undertaken in 3 steps
1) sketch plan review, 2) submission and review at the preliminary plat, 3) submission and review of the final plat -- before final approval is given the developer and the subdivision can be recorded at the county court house. These procedures often appear complicated, time consuming, and designed to frustrate subdividers, yet they are necessary to ensure that the best interests of the community are served and to prevent mistakes which could prove costly to the community, the developer and homebuyer.
1. Sketch Plan or Conceptual Review: At this informal stage, the developer and planning commission discuss in broad terms, the proposed subdivision. A sketch map showing the location of the property in relation to the community, proposed lot arrangements, streets or any open space, and major natural features will help the discussion. The purpose is to alert the developer to what will be required in the future stages, or any overwhelming circumstances that could jeopardize final approval before the subdivider invests heavily
in the project. It is important that major concerns be raised and discussed at this stage.
Questions at this stage usually focus on:
a. whether the proposal conforms to the comprehensive plan and the zoning of the land
b. the appropriateness of the site for the proposed development slope, floodplain, soils, erosion, drainage, views, vegetation
c. the use suitability of the proposed land use to surrounding uses.
d. the impact on the town in terms of water supply, and other utilities, police and fire protection, community facilities and schools.
2. Preliminary Plat: This is the most important phase. Most negotiation and tradeoffs between town and developer must be agreed upon in order to come up with a final plan that will be satisfactory to both the town's and the developer's needs. This process may take a great deal of time depending on the size and complexity of the proposed development. Because of its importance,requirements for the preliminary plat are usually spelled out in great detail in the regulations. These requirements must be met before the preliminary plan can be approved.
Suggested Procedure for Preliminary Plat Review:
These procedures will be outlined in the subdivision regulations of the town. The following is an explanation of the steps involved.
1) The subdivider submits a copy of the plat and supporting information to the Town Clerk. A fee based on the size of the development is usually required to cover the cost of reviewing the plat.
2) Copies of the plat are given to the planning commission and sent the following agencies for review where appropriate:
a) Town departments (county) water, sewer, police, fi re, public works
b) Public Service Company
c) Telephone Company
d) County Planning Department
e) County or State Health Departments regarding sewer systems
f) County and State Highway Departments
g) State Engineer for comments on wells and water rights
h) School District
i) Recreation District
j) Ditch Companies
k) Local soil conservation district board for recommendations regarding soil suitability, floodwater problems and watershed protection.
pub]i c meet i ng
public heari ng
l) County geologist or State Geological Survey for evaluation of geologic factors.
m) The governing body of any county or municipality that would be affected by the proposal.
3) The planning commission, assisted by staff, reviews the proposal and the comments. It is common at this point to have several public meetings and hearings as the developer, residents and planning commission negotiate on aspects of the plan, trying to resolve any differences.
4) A final publ?c hearing wi11 be held. Upon completion of the hearing, the planning commission prepares and submits a report along with a copy of the preliminary plat to the governing body. The planning commission may recommend approval, disapproval or conditions which must be met before approval.
5) The governing body reviews the report and the preliminary plat, and may hold public hearings. It then approves, disapproves
or specifies conditions for approval of the plat.
The Subdivider then usually has one year within which to submit a final plat. This protects the developer from the city making any changes in requirements or zoning during that time. It also discourages developers from involving the town in an expensive review process when there is no intention of going ahead with the plans.
Questions at the preliminary plan stage focus on:
a) General information about the proposed project:
*Location of project
*Preliminary plat for lot layout and size *0pen space provided *Type and quality of building *Financing and phasing of the project
*Conformance to policies in the comprehensive plan and the zoning ord i nance
^Landscaping and protection of natural features 'Specific site problems from geological studies and engineering studies such as drainages, soils, bedrock, water table, erosion *Preservation of historic points of interest *Air and water quality
c) Land use:
'Compatibility of project to surrounding uses *Reaction of neighbors and town residents to the project
d) Impact on town facilities and services
*Avai1abi1ity of water, water treatment capacity and impact on the water distribution system *lmpact on town sewerage system, adequacy of alternative sewer systems
*Gas, electricity and other utilities
*Streets, access and circulation adequacy of streets, impact of increased traffic in the town access for pedestrians and cyclists adequacy of parking provided *lmpact on the school system *Provision of fire and police protection *Effect of project on other town services, e.g. libraries, recreation facilities, town administration *0verall costs and benefits to the town in terms of increased tax revenue and fees collected compared to the cost of providing new or expanded services.
The preliminary plat should not be approved until all problems have been adequately resolved, and all standards and requirements of the subdivision regulations met.
3) Final Plat: By the time the proposal reaches final plat review, most problems should have been resolved. It is however the last opportunity for the community to have any control over the subdivision. The major purpose of this review is to make sure that the plat recorded is in compliance with the plans approved earlier. It also provides town departments with accurate information on the location of utilities and improvements.
Suggested Procedure for Final Plat Review:
The procedure is similar to that used to gain preliminary plat approval.
1. A reproducible copy and prints of the plat is submitted to the Town Clerk. A guarantee that all improvements will be installed must be given the town. This can be in the form of a bond or deposit of funds in escrow to cover the cost of improvements.
2. The plan is checked by town departments and the planning commission to ensure that:
*the final plat agrees with the approved preliminary plat and conforms to any conditions imposed on the preliminary plat.
*all zoning and subdivision regulations have been satisfied.
3- The governing body review the plat and recommendations of the planning commission in a public hearing. It then may approve, disapprove or place conditions on approval.
The subdivider is notified of the Board's decision by the Town Clerk. If the town board approves the final plat, it must adopt a resolution which formally approves the plat and accepts the streets, alleys, easements and park areas which are dedicated to the town.
If the town board does not approve the plat its reasons should be given to the developer in writing. This will usually only happen if the final plat deviates substantially from the approved preliminary plat.
k. The final plat must then be recorded with the county clerk before any lots can be sold.
Questions at the final plat stage focus on:
l. Complete review of questions asked at preliminary plan.
2. Checking to see that the Final plat reflects all items discussed and agreements made between the developer and the planning commission.
3- The following information must be on the final plat:
a. Subdivision Title for the record
b. Boundary lines and easements
c. Streets and alleys
d. Areas reserved for public use and other important features
e. All curves dimensioned
f. Accurate controlled survey description to which dimensions can be related
g. Names of adjoining subdivisions with dotted lines of abutting lots, unplatted land
h. Idenfificat ion system for lots, blocks and streets
i. Identification of public and future public lands
j. Total acreage
k. Description of all monuments
l. Surveyor's statement and statement of process
m. Delineation of flood plains
n. Certifications of approval
o. Signature block
p. Engineering and utility plans
q. Agreements and guarantees.
Minor or Short Subdivision Review:
Where a small piece of land is being subdivided into 2 or 3 parcels, it can be unnecessary and unfair to expect the ^ubdivider to complete the full subdivision review process. A shortened review process such as sketch plan followed by final plan review can be sufficient to ensure the interests of both the town and subdivider are safeguarded. A short subdivision review ordinance should clearly
state under what conditions the shortened review process will be allowed. For instance if any easements or rights-of-way are to be dedicated the full review process should be required. Care must be taken to make sure:
*developers do not use this review as a means of getting out of land dedication or other fees *this review process doesn't encourage piecemeal, uncoordinated or substandard development.
*the new lots can be serviced by roads and utilities, adequately and in an orderly fashion.
1 Building Codes:
One method of influencing the quality of a community on a smaller scale, is through the adoption of building codes. These are mainly concerned with structural requirements, minimum quality of materials, and the design and arrangement of building for health and safety.
For instance, a building code may specify that a basement in a house must contain a window well, so that in the event of a fire, people could use it as an exit.
As with zoning and subdivision regulations, local governments are authorized to adopt and enforce building codes through state enabling enabling legislation. Small towns usually adopt a general "model"
legislation code prepared by the state, or by an organization of building
officials, e.g. Uniform Building Code 1976. Larger towns usually write their own codes.
Building codes, like zoning and subdivision ordinances need to be revised frequently to keep them up to date with new building materials, designs and changes in the community.
2. Official Map
The official map shows the proposed location of future streets, water lines and treatment plants, sewer trunk lines, interceptors and treatment plants, parks, schools and other public facilities. It shows developers that it intends to purchase specific property and may show the timing and the purchase and installation of improvements. In this way it can not only reserve sites for public facilities in anticipation but it can also be used to direct growth to some locations in the town and away from others.
comprehens i ve plan
capi tal improvements program
The official map does not cover the long range span of the Comprehensive Plan nor is it as broad in scope. It is a reflection of policies in the Comprehensive Plan. It should also be coordinated with the capital improvements program. Preparing an official map has three stages:
1. Preparat ion. This is usually done by planning staff, or in the absence of staff the planning commission, aided by an engineer and others who can give specialized opinions as to the best location for different activities. Often the intentions of other government agencies will be included,
e.g. state highways.
Adopt ion. The map is adopted by the governing body after a public hearing. An ordinance will be adopted stopping any development on areas specified on the official map, until the city has been given notice. The city can then move to acquire the property. Copies are kept at the county clerk and recorder's office to alert property owners.
3. Revision. The official map must be periodically updated to
reflect policies in the Comprehensive Plan and to keep it in line with the capital improvements program.
Capital Improvements Program
A capital improvement is any major non-recurring expenditure, or any expenditure for physical facilities of government such as costs of buying land, constructing or altering buildings or other structures, constructing highways or utility lines, or buying equipment.
A capital improvements program is a long range schedule of projects that the municipality intends to construct ove ra period of 5 to 10 years. Included also will be a budget of the projects to be commenced in be first year, showing costs and expected sources of income to finance them. This budget should be prepared annually.
The entire capital improvements program and budget should implement goals and policies in the Comprehensive Plan, with frequent revision to ensure this. Some of the projects will be located on the official map.
A capital improvements program is usually prepared in conjunction with all town departments according to the following steps:
1. An inventory is taken of potential projects, estimated costs and relative importance.
2. These projects are analyzed.
3. Financing sources are investigated. This includes sources within the community and those outside (e.g. federal funds, the private market, etc.)
k. A long range schedule for construction of projects and financing is drawn up.
5. Specific projects are selected for the upcoming year, the annual budget.
6. The program is reviewed by the public and adopted by the governing body.
The location and timing of the installation of capital improvements, especially utilities, is a powerful tool which can be used to regulate and direct growth in an area. Developers are
somewhat reluctant to subdivide areas where the town will not supply utilities. A strongly enforced capital improvements program is often used as part of a growth management system (See Section 5).
Incorporating adjacent land district, annexation, is the way their physical size. Annexation request of land owners, although town can initiate it.
into the town or a special that towns and districts add to usually takes place at the under certain circumstances a
The Colorado statutes outline the conditions under which towns and districts may annex land. Specific procedures must be followed. As these are fairly complex it is suggested that an attorney be consulted before procedures are begun.
Annexation as a Growth Management Tool:
A town can control the rate as well as the quality of its expansion throughout annexation.
*lt can adopt policies or plant outlining what areas will be annexed andin what order. Utilities are provided in new areas on the basis of those plans.
*lt can annex large quantities of unimproved land; all development will then have to comply with the town's policies and subdivision regulations.
The town can set up a contract with the county as to the type of development that will be allowed in areas adjacent to the town. House Bill 1Q3A specifically grants towns and counties the authority to do this. (HB 103A, CRS 29-20-105, Section 6).
number of members
res ident voluntary
term of office
forma 1 structure
membership and organization
A statutory town has the authority to set up a planning commission with five to seven town residents. (See CRS 31~23"203, Section 6).
*When the commission has five members one is to be the mayor, another is to be a member of the governing body (town board) and the other three are residents appointed by the mayor.
*When there are seven or more members,
-- one member should be the mayor
-- one is an administrative official of the town selected by the mayor
-- one is a member of the town board selected by the mayor
one is a member of the town board selected by the town
the others are residents appointed by the mayor.
*Members must be residents of the town. If a member moves from the town he/she must resign.
'Membership is voluntary and unpaid. Members who are appointed (i.e. not ex-officio) cannot hold another municipal office. One member however may be a member of the board of adjustment or board of appeals.
*Ex-officio members serve on the commission for as long as they hold their other official office. The administrative official remains on tte board until the mayor's term of office expires.
*A11 other members serve six year terms.
*Commission members can be removed by the mayor after a public hearing for inefficiency, neglect of duty or official misconduct.
Organizing the Work of the Planning Commission
The Planning Commission is a public body, and while an informal approach is desirable in a small town, equally essential is some formal structure to organize the planning commission's activities. This is important so that the Planning Commission uses its time efficiently. Members will soon lose interest if they feel the time they are giving voluntarily to the town is being wasted. It is important also that applicants and townspeople are given a fair hearing.
Roberts Rules of Order
quorum vot i ng records
cha i rperson
To help organize its activities the Planning Commission should adopt a set of by-laws and policies to govern its meetings and procedures. These should be adopted after discussion with the Town Board. Suggested by laws are included in Section k: Appendix. It is recommended these be read at this stage.
Several points need to be emphasized abcut these by-laws.
1. These by-laws together with Roberts Rules of Order should govern every meeting of the Planning Commission, be it a small meeting or a large public hearing.
2. A quorum needs to be present before any commission business is begun.
3. A11 members of the commission can vote. Each vote carries equal weight.
k. Record keeping is essential. Good minutes should be taken, typed up, copies made and distributed to pa Inning commission members, and copies kept on file. Some planning commissions also tape record their meetings. Tapes should be used to verify minutes and records only. Attorneys discourage the use of tapes, as they often do the town more harm than good if introduced into a court case. The planning commission should have its own file for minutes, correspondence and all materials submitted in support of an application.
The importance of record keeping cannot be stressed enough.
It is required by law. If any planning commission decisions are taken to court, the court must be able to review the records to see that the applicant received due process.
It gives the planning commission a reference of all decisions it has made, all actions taken, and issues considered.
Records help the planning commission respond to proposals from other levels of government. It has more influence if it can point to decisions, recommendations or policies it has made previously that support the position it is taking on an issue.
5. The chairperson plays a vital role in how wel1 the planning
commission functions. The chairperson must know how to conduct a meeting, and apply rules of order. The chairperson is instrumental in keeping the meeting to the point, and getting the commission throught the work. This is essential to the morale and sense of achievement of the planning commission.
Characteristics of a Good Chairperson:
a. Must be strong enough to make sure meetings are run by the rules and run fairly.
b. Ability to grasp the whole problem and the essential issues, and not get sidetracked into details.
c. Ability to bridge differences on the commission and bring matters to a decision. This can be done by finding out if differences are over fundamental principles or merely disagreements about the means to the end. The latter can be compromised but principles should not. It is the chairperson's responsibi1ity. to find a middle ground.
d. Must be an effective representative of the planning commission to other groups.
e. Must be able to make other commission members and the public feel comfortable about asking questions, especially when they are unsure about concepts.
Agenda: It is important to have an agenda in order for the meet-
ing to accomplish its work. The agenda should be prepared in advance and available to all people of the meeting. If there are not enough copies for everyone then the chairperson must outline it at the start of the public meeting and justify deviations from it. The agenda should not be overloaded; if there are too many items to be handled in a comfortable amount of time, schedule another meeting.
For the organization of an agenda see "Agenda" in sample bylaws, Section k: Appendix.
public meetings ond hearings
The planning commission is not only required to have its meetings open to the public but also needs the public input it obtains during these sessions. There is a difference between a public public meeting and a public hearing. A public hearing is a meeting of the
hearing governing body, held to obtain public input on a proposal before the
governing body makes its decision. Cases when a hearing is required are specified in the ordinances or statutes and must be held before a decision is made on an issue. A public meeting is more informal and held to discuss matters affecting the community or obtain citizen ideas and feelings. It is not a required meeting; no decisions need to be made following this meeting as it is designed mainly to exchange information.
Organizing meetings and hearings:
Successful meetings and hearings do not just happen. They must be well organized and rua Whether an informal town meeting or a very structured public hearing the session will be more successful if the following eight points are kept in mind.
1. Purpose: There should be good reason for having called the meeting. The chairperson should know what is wanted from the meeting and should explain that to the participants at the beginning.
2. Notice: People cannot come to a meeting if they do not know it's going to take place. They need to know why they should come, when the meeting is to be and where it is to be held. The
way people are notified depends on the nature of the meeting.
If it is to be a public meeting to gather citizen input widespread announcement of the meeting is essential. Newspaper articles, flyers and posters in shop windows are some good ways to publicize a meeting. Public hearings are required to be advertised in the paper. Public hearings require the publishing of legal notice; the ordinance will stipulate the procedures that must be followed. People should be given notice of the meeting in plenty of time to be able to make arrangements to attend. The notice should clearly state what will be considered at the meeting and what will not so that there is no misunderstanding about the purpose of the meeting.
Key people who have important roles to play, such as speakers, should be given special reminders.
3. Preparations: The meeting should be set to allow plenty of time for adequate preparation in advance. Tasks such as preparing the agenda, arranging for a meeting place, coffee and food and visual aids and duplication of reports should be delegated to commission members or their support staff.
k. Agenda: A public hearing needs clear and fair rules about the sequences and procedure to be followed. Participants should be told in advance when their item is likely to come up on the agenda. Then they will not have to sit through parts of the meeting that are irrelevant to them, wasting their time and making them agitated.
Adequate time should be scheduled in the agenda for controversial issues, so that all people can be heard. It is important not to make people come back to a second meeting because there was not time to hear them.
*Field trips to any sites in question and discussion of proposals by the planning commission prior to themeeting can help streamline the meeting.
*Routine and unopposed items should be dealt with first.
*Keep to the schedule on the agenda.
*!f time is running out schedule planning commission discussion of issues until the next meeting.
*Make sure the agenda for the meeting is not overloaded.
If necessary, have two meetings.
Less formal meetings that are held to discuss general issues rather than specific proposals need not be so well structured. While an agenda will help give the meeting direction, rigid adherence to it is not so critical. In some cases, sensitivity by the chairperson to the say the meeting is going and being flexible with the procedures and agenda can add to the success of the meeting.
5- Part ic i pants: Firstly, the cha i rperson 1 s ability to handle the meeting fairly and keep it progressing will help determine the success of the meeting. The bylaws of the planning commission (see Section k Appendix) should be used to govern the meeting, supplemented where necessary by Roberts Rules of Order.
As mentioned above, informal meetings can be run in a more flexible less structured manner.
Secondly, the success of a meeting depends on active participation from a wide range of people. After all, that is why the meeting is held. The Planning Commission should be a forum for discussion of issues affecting the town. Peopls should feel free, and should be encouraged,to come and express their opinions. It is the responsibility of the planning commission to find an acceptable middle ground.
6. Place: The meeting place should be convenient and of a size and type appropriate to the nature of the meeting. Equipment such as microphones and projectors should be checked beforehand to make sure they are adequate.
7- Results: Regardless of the type of meeting or its success,
every meeting produces results. At the conclusion, time should be taken to reflect on the meeting and evaluate what was accom-pli shed. Somet imes the results will be genera 1 -- problems raised, issues defined, feelings expressed, future direction clarified. At other times the results will be specific and easily identified:
*The meeting defined the issues that the planning commission has to make a decision about.
*The evidence presented provided enough of the basis for reaching a decision: it brought out all sides of the issue the applicant's, the public's and those of professional planners.
*Evidence submitted showed how the proposal related to the existing comprehensive plan and land use controls.
Where it does not match these, reasons were given for deviating from them.
8. Records: As stated before Planning is a public activity and a record of the proceedings must be kept. How this is done can range from the simple and informal to the very complex. In its most simple form a record of the meeting simply lists the time and the place of the meeting, the participants and the results of the meeting. Copies are sent to participants and others interested as a reminder to follow up on decisions made and tasks assigned during the meeting.
Some "do's and don'ts" of public meetings:
^Controlling the meeting
-Ration time for speakers
-Allow groups to speak first, and given them them more time than ind i v idua1s.
-If there is a planning staff, they should present their facts and recommendations at the beginning of the discussion of a new topic. This should be followed by the applicants, their supporters and the opponents. Additional comments should only be allowed if they present new and relevant factual information (See sample bylaws, Section k Appendix).
-Do not allow any haranguing or cross examining either by the audience or the commission. Planning commission hearings are a place where people should feel free to talk and express their opinions without being intimidated.
-Do not allow any long documents such as names on a petition to be read. These can be made part of the record.
-No interruptions should be allowed when someone is talking.
-All people to direct questions through the chairperson to anyone they wish only if the answers to those questions develop factual information that is helpful.
*Conduct of the Commission
cha i rperson
-Do not bring up the pro's and con's of an item before all evidence is presented; the public will lose confidence in the planning commission if they think their minds are made up already.
-Discussion should stay on the facts not the presenters of facts. Do not belittle anyone in public.
-Pay the same attention and show as much interest in the last speaker as the first. Tired planning commission members cannot make good decisions. Meetings should be closed by 11:00 to 11:30 p.m. and all other business tabled until the next meet i ng.
-Do not get bogged down in details or side issues.
-Do not give opinions or judgements on complex technical matters, only on policy.
-If "experts" are brought in by either side the commission should not be afraid to make sure it is getting facts. Test the expert
- what are the expert's qualifications?
- did the expert consider alternatives? Why weren't
they as good as the one the expert is supporting?
- does the expert have an adequate grasp of circumstances
in the local community
-Do not be afraid to ask for facts from applicants. The community has a right to know the likely consequences of a proposal.
-Keep your own notes on each speaker. Note down relevant facts that must be considered in a decision.
-After hearing opinions of all members the chairperson should try to sum up the feeling of the commission and get members to produce a motion capturing it.
After all information has been presented, the planning commission must consider the issues and make a recommendation. The following are some guidelines to help the planning commission reach its decision.
1. The constitution states two constitutional rights that must be safeguarded during the decision making process, a. Equal protection of the law -- the law must be applied fairly and equally to all persons in all circumstances.
When distinguishing between things by setting up classes the distinctions have to be reasonable, b. Due process of the law all parties must be given
reasonable notice of the proceedings, must have access to records, must be given a fair opportunity to be heard before the decision is made, and have the right to submit and challenge evidence. For instance, not only can unreasonable delays be ruinous to a developer (the costs of the project keep going up) but these delays can be challenged in court. You cannot deny a proposal by inaction.
2. Making a motion
legal defense of motion
All factors on which a decision is based must be brought into the discussion of the planning commission so that there is an opportunity for the applicant to comment. Once all opinions have been given a summation of these should be proposed in the form of a motion. Proposing a motion early in the discussion may help members crystallize their opinions and aid them in reaching their decision. Motions can be amended.
For instance: "I propose that the Planning Commission recommend approval of the rezoning of the Golden Hills property from R-1 to R-2, subject to the condition that fending and landscape buffer strips between it and the property to the east be constructed within one year."
If the motion is agreeable to the commission it should be recorded.
Voting should be in the form of a simple "yes"/"no" verbal vote with commission members giving no reasons for the vote at this time. If not all reasons for denying a proposal are stated, the commission may be placed in the difficult position of having to approve the proposal in the future because it has been modified to overcome the stated difficulties. Yet other problems with the proposal may still remain.
Similarly, if too much explanation is given the decision may be open to challenge in court on the basis of discrimination and denial of equal protection.
Thus to be safe and legally defensible no reasons should be given; reasons should be included and clear in discussion preceed-ing the vote.
Remember: The Planning Commission is a lay board representing fellow citizens. All decisions should be made in language that is easily understood by them.
comprehens i ve plan
3. Rehearing: Decisions are final. A Rehearing should not be based
on a change of mind by the commission or by a change of personnel
on the commission. Rehearings should only be granted when
a. there is new evidence of a significant nature that was not considered previously, or
b. when either side was misrepresented
The ordinance will usually state a time limit within which
applications for rehearings must be made.
B. The Decision
1. As much as possible, base recommendations on fact, not on opinion or hearsay.
2. Each proposal must be evaluated on its own merits, always remembering that each decision you make is part of a whole, the cumulative effect of all these de-cisions might be quite d i fferent.
3. Throughout your decisions there is a need for consistency, in order for planning to be effective. There is no sense in applying strict conditions in one instance but not in others. Consistency leads to pred i ctabi1i ty, a necessary quality in order for developers to be able to produce plans with some certainty that they will be acceptable and approved. The developer's time and money is wasted through not being sure what the planning commission requires or what it will base its decisions on. The public's money and the planning commission's time is wasted by needless reviews of unacceptable plans.
k. Basing decisions on the comprehensive plan and criteria outlined in the zoning and subdivision regulations will go a long way to ensure this consistency and predictability as well as making it legally defensible.
5. Clearly define the major i ssues involved in each case, and address them before sending a recommendation to the town board.
6. The commission's recommendations to the Board need to be accompanied by the pertinent facts and the main factors on which the commission based its decision.
7. Finally, the planning commission in its decision needs to pull together a mix of facts, tradition and what people want. In a small town, it is easy for personalities to cloud the issues. The Planning Commission must step back, be objective and find an acceptable ground between competing interests.
The decision must be what is best for the town.
A Word about Applicants
Throughout the decision making process, the planning commission must try to safeguard the interests of the town. However, the commission must also bear in mind some of the very real constraints that face applicants. These can be broadly divided into
-- plan preparation and approval can take from a minimum of about 2 months for small or simple proposals to a year and a half or more for the large and complex. Construction costs increase during this period.
time involved in the preparation of construction drawings of houses and facilities.
-- weather poses constraints on the rate of construction.
For example, foundations must be poured before the ground freezes, otherwise the cost of the foundation increases tremendously.
^Financial constraints, are intertwined with the timing:
"front end" costs are enormous. The costs of plan preparation and approval, installation of improvements and initial construction are incurred before any return is made.
The developer must take large risks in order to make a large gain.
-- the cost of consultants' services such as engineers, market analysts, architects, landscape architects and attorneys is not small. Developers need some predictability in decision making and clearly stated requirements so that they do not have to waste time and money producing plans that will not be approved. At the same time the regulations need to be sufficiently flexible to allow creativity.
the availability, source and cost of financeing, such as that required for mortgages, capital improvements and front end design and construction affect a developers plans.
^Environmental constraints such as slopes, soil, height of the water table and presence of floodplains will determine (within the limitation of zoning regulations) what type of buildings can be constructed, how many and where on the site they will be located. They also determine the location of roads and limit the types of utilities that can be provided, e.g. a high water table (less than 10' below the surface) will prohibit the construction of any buildings with basements.
Market constraints. A developer must produce a product that meets the needs and preferences of the local market (buyers within the area) but is also forced to work within trends in the regional and national economy. For instance, despite their attractiveness, there is no point in building $150,000 homes on 1/2 acre plots when there are no buyers, and the real need is for low cost housing for seasonal employees.
I ntroduct ion:
other people In touun involved in planning
Planning takes place at all levels of government, each level specializing in different aspects. The planning commission is one of many groups involved in the planning process. There are many other groups, both in the town and in other levels of governments whose responsibilities are as important. The Planning Commission must work closely with these groups in order to fulfill its function.
1. Town Board (Elected Officials)
The Town Board is the center of power in a town; it passes and enforces laws and ordinances as permitted by the state legislature and recommended by the town's residents. It sets the policy which the planning commission uses to develop its recommendations. It also manages the town and its finances. To help it carry out these duties the town establishes various departments such as police, fire, public works, and can hire employees. Often the town board will divide itself into committees, each one taking responsibility for a different aspect of the town's activities.
Improving the relationship between the Town Board and the Planning Commission
Good communication is required to make the relationship between the Board and the Planning Commission work. The following are some suggestions as to how communication can be improved:
-- Follow the criteria on membership of the planning commission that are outlined in the statutes. Then at least one member of the Town Board will be a member of the planning commission. The person can act as spokesperson for the planning commission at town board meetings.
-- If there is no town board member on the planning commission, use the town board member who heads the board's planning committee as a liaison with the planning commission.
-- Send minutes of planning commission meetings to the town board for review prior to their meetings.
Have regular informal meetings or workshops between the town board and the planning commission. Other groups in the town can be invited to participate in the same way. The planning commission and town board can keep in touch with what each other is doing and can agree on matters of joint policy or d i rect ion.
Including the town barrd on any field trips the planning commission takes or inviting them to attend meetings where special presentations are made to the planning commission.
2. Town Manager
A town manager has the responsibility of organizing every department and service of the town. The manager supervises the administration of the town insuring that it isrun smoothly and efficiently, insures the enforcement of ordinances and laws, makes recommendations to the elected officials, advises the elected officials on financial matters, and prepares the annual budget and monthly statements.
The town manager can help the planning commission in several ways:
-- advice on budgeting and funding
-- help in setting up and following procedures
putting the planning commission in touch with resource
people that couls assist the planning commission -- help provide consistency to decision making. When the town does not have any planning staff a town manager can in a general way advise on planning matters. The manager should adv i se only, and should not make decisions for the commission.
in the absence of the town attorney the manager can
sometimes provide general guidance on legal matters.
3. Town Clerk
record keep i ng
plann ing commi ss ion secretary
The functions of the town manager and clerk overlap. In the absence of a manager, the clerk acts as both a manager and a clerk.
Primarily the clerk is responsible for the record keeping in the town. The clerk is of great importance to the planning commission, having responsibility for:
-- processing planning applications and filing information submitted along with the application -- posting legal notices in the newspaper and on property -- in the absence of a secretary, the town clerk prepares the planning commission agenda and notifies members of meetings
filing planning commission minutes and correspondence.
Secretary: In some towns, planning commission has a secre-
tary who is part of the town clerk's staff. The secretary then assumes responsibility for preparing the planning commission agenda, handling correspondence, taking minutes of the commission's meetings and filing their records.
A. Planning Staff:
Many small towns cannot afford the services of a planner, nor do they generate enough work to afford one. Nevertheless, a staff planner is valuable to the commission.
The main function of a planner is to provide technical advice and assistance to the planning commission. The planner has the responsibility of researching in depth proposals that come before the commission for review, decifering technical information, and presenting results to the commission in a manner they can understand and use; recommending courses of action; suggesting solutions; indicating which areas of the zoning ordinance, subdivision regulations and comprehensive plan need review, and making suggestions as to how they could be improved; setting up procedures to follow; and providing technical data and information to be included in plans. It is essential that a planner work well with community groups and be articulate in public.
5. Planning Consultant:
A planning consultant can be hired in place of permanent staff, or to supplement staff adding special expertise to the staff's general knowledge of the community.
Choosing a consultant:
Firstly, write down the specific services that are going to be needed. Contact state agencies, universities, or other towns to find names of suitable consultants. Contact a limited number of these firms, send them a statement of the specific services reguired $ the budgetary range they will be working in. Invite them to submit a written proposal as to how they would perform these services. They also should include a list of all pertinent experience and jobs they have had in the last five years.
Contact recent clients of each consultant and find out -- was the work that was done useful -- was the work as good as expected would the client invite the consultant back without qualifications
-- if the community objected to the consultant what
were the reasons. A consultant may be unsuitable for one town, but have the appropriate expertise for another.
Avoid consultants that get unfavorable critiques. Read the proposals of the remaining applicants with the following cr i ter i a i n mi nd.
1. Is the proposal an advertising brochure or does it clearly state why the consultant is particularly suited to the job and how it would deal with the unique problems of the community.
2. What is the style of the proposal? Is it clear, easily understood, and to the point? (If you cannot understand the proposal, there is a good chance the work will be difficult to understand too.) Is it open and specific about the staff the firm has available to work on the project?
The most promising two or three firms should be invited for a face to face interview. The selection committee should include representatives of the Town Board, the planning commission and the town's planner if one is employed. If it wished the Town could ask a representative from the State Division of Planning or a University to be a non-voting member of the panel, advising the town on the technical expertise of each consultant. The interview should be with the person who will be in charge of the project, and not the firm's public relations person. They should be asked:
a. What special qualifications the team has, and
b. How they will do the work, and how the final product will be used by the town.
*A consultant should be chosen on the basis of who will do the best job, not who will charge the least.
*Avoid consultants who are too slick or who are hard to understand. Hire the consultant who seems personally best suited to working with your community.
'Negotiations as to exactly what the consultant will produce for a certain amount of money should take place after the consultant is chosen, but before a contract is signed.
*Budget enough money to keep the consultant on a retainer basis to help implement the plans produced. This is particularly important if the town does not have its own planning staff.
6. Board of Adjustment
interpret zoning ord i nance
Board of Appea1s
The Board of Adjustment is established to head appeals to decisions on the zoning ordinance, specifically to grant variances from specific conditions of the ordinance in cases of unusual hardship, (see Section 3) and to interpret specific provisions of the zoning ordinance where the meaning is unclear.
According to the state legislation, the Board is to consist of five members, each appointed for three years. A vote of yes by four members is required to grant a variance. A simple majority is not sufficient.
Board of Appeals: The statutes also provide for a Board of Appeals made up in a manner similar to the
Board of Adjustment. It hears appeals on decisions concerning the building code and issuance of building permits.
It is essential that a planning commission have access to the services of an attorney. Many small towns keep an attorney on a retainer basis to ensure continuity of legal counsel.
An attorney is instrumental in advising the commission on state and federal planning and zoning legislation; interpretation of the codes and regulations; court decisions that might affect the work of the commission, new ordinances and techniques adopted in other areas that might be applicable to the town, and procedures the commission should follow.
Many new planning techniques originate through legal interpretation.
The rule of thumb as to the use of legal counsel is: when in doubt about how to proceed legally, STOP and get legal advice. While not normally necessary, when a particularly controversial proposal is being reviewed, it is advisable to have an attorney present at every hearing. The attorney can then assist in preparing motions or resolutions that are legally defensible. On any matter concerning water rights, an attorney specializing in this area should be consulted.
The planning commission should have access to an attorney whor concentrates on land use law as it is a field as specialized as water law. The attorney should be selected in the same way as other consultants.
8. Residents of the Town:
Citizen involvement is the basis of good planning. For many years planning in this country has ignored the opinions of residents, often too worried about producing a product or plan to be interested in the needs and aspirations of the people for whom the planning was being carried out. Many of those plans were ineffective and the products such as highways, unsuitable. More emphasis is now being placed on getting residents involved in determing the goals and policies for the town, and encouraging their opinions on proposals.
The planning commission should be a forum for discussion; people should be encouraged to participate and should feel comfortable doing so. It is only as they do that the decisions and plans will reflect the desires of the town, and being working towards its goals. Active participation increases the community's ability to handle its own affairs and direct its future. Plans have a greater assurance of being adopted and implemented if the residents have been involved in its preparation.
Planning commissions hear most public opinion at public meetings and hearings. Feelings in the town are not always accurately portrayed at public meetings. To keep up with these feelings planning commission members should be involved in town activities. If ad hoc citizens groups are formed, a commission member should be involved in the group. At the very least, the commission should meet with the group for informal discussion.
Discussion is a two way process. The planning commission needs public support; it must make a deliberate effort to inform the public regularly about what it is doing, how it is resolving issues and problems it is having and solicit public input on these issues. The commission also has a responsibility to educate the public about the purposes of planning, and should invite the public to attend its educational sessions.
CHAPTER 11 other levels of planning
towns cities home rule
statutory local planning
count i es
specia I d i stricts
Levels of Government:
The smallest unit of government is the municipality, dependent on the state for the authority to exercise any power. Colorado has municipalities, cities, territorial charter cities and home rule municipalities (cities or towns). Towns are municipal corporations with a population of 2,000 or less, and cities are municipal corporations with populations greater than 2,000. Home rule municipalities are cities or towns which have adopted a home rule charter. The charter outlines the powers and functions of the local government. Home rule allows a community more flexibility for dealing with its unique charac teristics. A statutory municipality has only the powers and functions granted it by state enabling legislation. The state statutes allow local governments to carry out planning within their jurisdiction but in doing so they must take into account the effects their planning will have on the region, particularly the county of which it is a part.
Counties have responsibility for planning for a much wider geograpiiica1 area, guiding land use in the unincorporated areas of the county, and dealing with concerns that go beyond municipal boundaries. Counties usually have to try to balance competing "needs of different towns and rural areas, ensuring that the overall best interests of the county are served. To aid towns and counties in jointly dealing with problems, the state legislature has authorized local governments to enter into contractual agreements with other units of government.
(See sections 2 and 6 House Bill 103^.) Such a contract could be drawn up when defining future service areas and annexation policies for mun ic i pa 1i t i es.
Operating within municipalities and counties are special d i stricts. These are districts authorized by the state to perform one specific service, e.g. a water district, sewer district, fire district, park and recreation district. They have the power to charge fees for services, levy taxes and raise bonds. Special purpose districts do not have land use planning authority, and their actions should be consistent with the land use decisions of the county and municipality.
Regions coordinate the activities of counties and towns. Colorado has thirteen planning (Councils of Governments) and management regions, made up of voluntary associations of counties and towns. Initially they were set up to manage federal funds. Their role has been expanded to include preparation of long term comprehensive plans for regional growth and development, dealing with issues that go beyond municipal and county boundaries, such as mass transportation, air pollution, and water quality. These issues requiring solutions beyond the capability of any one county or municipality. While these regional governments are primarily advisory they have power in that they are responsible for distributing federal funds for a wide variety of projects.
The state provides the legislative framework within which other levels of government have the authority to regulate land use. State planning focuses on matters of statewide concern. Its planning tends to be in the form of policies, regulations and directives to county and local governments who attempt to implement those policies through their own plans. Of particular interest to the state are issues of environmental planning, economic development and resource use. The State Division of Planning and Colorado Land Use Commission have major responsibility for coordinating planning in the state.
Also technically deriving its power from the states is the Federal government. It has been instrumental in not only requiring that states and local governments plan but also providing the funds to enable them to do so. National policies and standards are set up by the Federal government, and states and local governments must reflect these in their plans and activities.
The Importance of Local Planning:
The better the plans and organization of a town, the more it is able to affect the policies of the larger government agencies. By including local goals into county, state and federal agency plans, these plans are much more responsible to the local situation.
If towns have plans and policies adopted they are in a better position to negotiate with other levels of government on specific proposals that would affect them.
Moreover, if a local area does not develop its own goals, policies and plans another level of government may assume this responsibility, with the results not necessarily reflecting the desires of the local community.
Meet i ngs
1. At the first regular meeting in January the Planning Commission shall elect a chairperson, a vice chairperson and a recording secretary who need not be an appointed member. They can be an employee from the Town Clerk's office, a member of the planning staff, or an employee of the planning commission.
2. The number of meetings per month and a schedule of meeting dates shall be established and may be altered or changed at any regularly scheduled meeting. The commission must meet at least once a month. Two regular meeting dates are established each month on the second and fourth Mondays at 7:30 p.m. in the Town Hall.
3- Special meetings can be held at any time and may be called by the chairperson, vice chairperson, a majority of the members of the planning commission or the Town Board. At least 2k hours notice should be given to each member of the commission.
k. Any meeting of the commission may be continued or adjourned from day to day or for more than one day. An adjournment can only last until the next regularly scheduled meeting.
5- A majority of the members of the commission entitled to vote
shall constitute a quorum. A quorum must be in attendance before the commission can begin business or make recommendations.
Put i es:
6. The duties and powers of the officers of the planning commission sha11 be as foilows:
1. Preside at all meetings of the commission. The chairperson shall call the meeting to order at 7:30 and shall preserve the order of the meeting. If a person violates a rule of the commission the chairperson will call them to order.
2. Call special meetings of the commission in accordance with the bylaws.
3- Sign documents of the commission.
k. See that all actions of the commission are properly taken.
B. Vice chai rperson
The vice chairperson shall perform the duties and have the responsibilities of the chairperson during the absence, disqualification of disability of the chairperson.
C. Recording Secretary
1. Keep the minutes of all meetings of the commission in an appropriate minute book.
2. Give or serve all notices required by law or by the Town's bylaws.
3. Prepare the agenda for all meetings of the commission, and inform the members of the time of any special meet-i ngs.
k. Keep commission records.
5. Inform the commission of correspondence relating to business of the commission and attend to such correspondence.
6. Handle funds allocated to the commission in accordance with its directives, the law and city regulations.
7. Sign official documents of the commission.
8. All maps, plats and others matters are required by law to be filed at the town hall.
9. Matters referred to the commission by the Town Board shall be placed on the agenda for consideration and action at the next commission meeting.
10. Reconsideration of any decision of the commission may take place when the party seeking the reconsideration shows satisfactory to the chairman that without fault on the party, essential facts were not brought to the attention of the commission, or a party was misrepresented.
11. Roberts Rules of Order are adopted to govern the commission in all cases not otherwise provided for in these rules.
12. General Order of Business: Any regular meeting of the Planning Commission should follow this order of business (Agenda):
a. Roll Call
b. Approval of minutes of the preceeding meeting.
c. Personal appearances. Any citizen wishing to speak on a matter not scheduled on the agenda may do so during this time. The planning commission does not take immediate action on items presented under personal appearances.
d. Scheduled matters
*Consent items. These are items that require little or no discussion by the planning commission, publit or applicant. The planning commission will act on these items in one motion. If any concerns are expressed regarding one of these items, it will be
considered by the planning commission in its regular position on the agenda.
*Public Hearings *Planned Unit Developments *Subd i v i s ions *Use Permits *Appea1s
f. Report of the chairperson or planning commission commi ttees.
13- Order of presentation:
Generally the following will be the order of presentation after introduction of any item by the chairperson. It may be rearranged by the chairperson if necessary.
i s a b)
plann i ng
The planning staff presents its report and makes recommendat ions.
The planning commission may ask the staff any questions regarding its report.
Applicants (proponents of the item) make their presentat ion.
Any opponents or interested citizens make presentations The applicant can make comments on any points or answer arguments not previously covered The planning staff make additional comments as necessary.
The planning commission asks any questions it may have of the applicant, the public or the staff then takes a vote.
I^t. Deadline for the Agenda
Applications should be filed with the town clerk and meet the deadlines as required.
All other items should be filed with the Planning Commission secretary or town clerk by Wednesday preceeding the next meeting.
15. No new agenda items shall be taken up after 11 p.m.
16. All members of the commission have one vote. Voting is by a verbal "yes" or "no" and shall be recorded in the minutes. The order of voting is to be rotated each month, with the chairperson voting last. No explanation of the vote is to be given at this time.
17- The chairperson has the same rights to propose motions and vote as any other member.
18. No member may serve two (2) full consecutive terms as cha i rperson.
19- The vice-chairperson shall succeed the chairperson if the position is left before the term is completed. The vice-chairperson serves the remainder of the term and a new vice-chairperson shall be elected at the next regular meet i ng.
20. Any member of the planning commission who feels he/she has as conflict of interest on any matter on the planning commission agenda shall voluntarily excuse him/herself, vacate his seat, and refrain from discussion and voting
on yhe item as a planning commissioner.
21. A member of the planning commission must notify the planning commission secretary/town clerk by 5:00 p.m. the day of the meeting if he/she will not be able to attend the meet ing.
22. Any member absent for 3 consecutive meetings shall be replaced by the town board unless it is shown that exceptional circumstances existed and that there are reasons to believe that the member's attendance will improve.
23. The bylaws may be amended at any meeting of the planning commission provided that notice of said proposed amendment is given to each member in writing at least 2 weeks prior to the meeting.
Several shortcomings of zoning were described in Chapter four. Innovative zoning techniques have been developed to reduce these difficulties. This chapter briefly outlines some of the more import ant ones.
zoning ord i nance comprehens i ve plan
1. Floating Zones:
Zoning Districts with specified uses are established by the governing body without being delineated on the zoning map.
Later when an opportunity arises, and a developer's proposal for a tract of land meets the criteria established in the ordinance, the governing body can pass an amendment to the zoning ordinance which establishes the actual boundaries of such a district. The district must comply with the comprehensive plan and promote the general welfare.
2. Cluster Zoning:
dens i ty
homeowners 1 association
cr i ter ia
This is a means of preserving open space without changing the overall density requirements governing the land. Zoning regulations on lot sizes, setbacks, side yards and frontage, and other restrictions are relaxed. The total density remains the same as it would have been had the land been developed on a lot-by-lot basis. The effect is to permit a clustering of dwelling units on a smaller percentage of the property, thus preserving large areas of open space for use by people living in the dwelling units, and maintained by a homeowners' association. A homeowners' association is an incorporated non-profit organization. Each lot owner automatically is a member and is charged a share of the costs of maintaining the open space and any communal facilities such as swimming pools, tennis courts and club houses. Open space is saved, at the same time allowing utilities to be provided more economically and efficiently. There are three important criteria for evaluating a 'cluster' proposal:
1. the suitability of the land in question for that type of development.
2. the need for open space in the area.
3. the way the proposal relates to overall zoning goals and the comprehensive plan.
3. Performance Standards:
Traditional zoning and regulation of land use does not adequately insure the compatabi1ity of development with environmental resources
zon i ng ord i nance
and surrounding uses. Performance standards are standards set by the town which proposals must meet before being approved. Emphasis is placed on the consequences of development and the protection of the environment. Permitted or prohibited uses are not specified beforehand. Rather developers are allowed to design their projects with considerable discretion as long as they do not exceed the performance standards deemed necessary to protect the environment and surrounding areas. Examples of where development standards can be appropriate are:
^Industrial performance standards that govern such factors as air pollution, noise, vibration, glare and buffers protecting surrounding properties.
^Hillside performance standards to minimize soil erosion, loss of fragile vegetation, visual intrusion and damage to water qua 1i ty.
^Floodplain performance standards to minimize damage due to flooding.
4. Transferable Development Rights
Transferable Development Rights (TDR's) is a new tool that attempts to involve the private marketplace in land use management.
Each parcel of land within a community is assigned a number of "development rights" based on policies established by the community. Zoning ordinances are then overlaid on this system determining the development potential of various parts of the community. Developers can build at various densities only if they possess the necessary development rights for that type and intensity of use.
Land owners may sell their excess development rights to owners in an areazoned for higher density. The price paid for development rights is determined solely by the private market place.
*Landowners are fairly compensated for any reduction in the development potential of their land.
*0pen space can be acquired at virtually no cost *Governmenta1 control of land use development is reduced.
*There are legal questions as to whether the assignment of development rights is an adequate substitute for monetary compensation.
*Difficulties arise when trying to reassess TDR values in the future.
*lmplementation can be expensive and requires sophisticated planning assistance.
*Compromises necessary to local politics may reduce the effectiveness of the TDR system.
zon i ng ord i nance
5. Special Review Districts:
A special review district is an area with unique characteristics that is established by the zoning ordinance. Special review districts are often created to
*preserve areas with particular historic, ethnic, or cultural i nterest
*protect and enhance neighborhoods *promote stable land values *assist in rehabilitating declining areas *safeguard certain areas for the future.
Special regulations control the type and design of development that can go in the district. These regulations act as an overlay to the zoning code, being either more stringent or lenient than the underlying zone.
6. Permit System:
With permit systems there are no "uses by right" or prohibited uses as there are with conventional zoning. Conventional zoning in effect, is abolished. Each development proposal must be reviewed according to a standard set of procedures to obtain a permi t.
The key element in the permit system is a comprehensive set of community policies covering its social, economic, public service, design and natural resource goals. Development proposals are then evaluated against these policies, and assigned "points" according to how well they satisfy the policy. For a proposal to be approved it must accumulate a predetermined number of points. Failure to do so results in a denial of the application. Also failing to score positively on same specified policies will result in automatic denial.
As the permit system is such a new tool, it is difficult to evaluate its effectiveness. Systems such as those adopted in Breckenridge, Colorado reduce administration but are surrounded by legal uncertainties.
guide and control growth
benef i ts
"Growth" is a hot issue in most Colorado communities; some want growth, especially economic development, as they see it as the only means to secure the survival of their community. Other communities have too much happening too quickly development of energy and natural resources bringing rapid increases in population, or people and businesses relocating to Colorado because .they are attracted by the lifestyle and the mountains. To these communities, growth may mean the destruction of the very qualities that made them attractive places to live in.
Not planning for growth does not mean that growth will not come. The best way to deal with growth is to plan for it, adopting techniques that guide and control new development so that it complements the community.
The Costs and Benefits of Growth:
For many years growth has been synonymous with progress; Americans have seen both as inherently good, and most communities have actively sought it. People have typically felt that:
*growth stabilizes or improves the local tax situation by broadening the tax base and reducing per capita tax burdens.
*most growth "pays its own way" with overall benefits outweighing the direct costs.
*new development brings a broader range of goods and services to the community.
*growth improves local wage levels and brings a greater range of job opportunities young people may not have to leave the town to find jobs.
*growth brings a wider range of choice in housing types and locat ions.
^development and expansion result in improved community facilities such as roads, schools, recreation, fire and health services.
Only recently have people begun questioning these assumptions and looking into the costs as well as benefits associated with it:
^Schools become crowded, roads congested and inadequate.
*With the extra people come demands for different and extra community facilities the town had not considered before -- expensive recreation facilities, activities for teenagers, libraries, swimming pools and so on.
*Sewer and water systems become overtaxed, new treatment facilities are needed, and new pipe systems must be laid through out the town.
*Drainage and erosion problems develop. They had never been problems when the community was smaller.
*Natural features such as streams, hillsides, rocks outcrops are irrevocably altered.
*Demands on local government increase dramatically -- financial resources are strained and the administrative capacity of the employees overtaxed.
*The simple lifestyle and character of the town is changing.
Growth Management Systems, or Controlled Growth, are combinations of new and traditional techniques that seek to more closely control local patterns of land use including the location, rate and nature of development, and improve the timing and construction of public facilities and services so as to meet the community's needs within the limits of its financial resources.
A Growth Management System is nothing more than a stringent, well enforced, traditional land use planning supplemented by an integrated package of specialized techniques to control timing, quantity and quality of development.
Legal Implications of Growth Management Systems
Controlling growth raises many legal questions. Any community that wishes to adopt a growth management system should work closely with their attorney when developing it.
Communities in Colorado have police power authority to carry out land use planning. This power is limited by one principle: the use of it must be a reasonable means to a legitimate end. If the management system is questioned in court the two parts of this principle will be tested: reasonableness of the means and valiadity of the object i ves.
Validity of the Objectives:
morator i um
The regulations must relate to the hea1th,morals,safety and general welfare of the community. The local government has to have been given power to adopt the regulations by the state enabling legislation.
Reasonableness. of. the Means.
The particular regulations (means) adopted by the community must be reasonable methods of achieving its objectives. Most importantly, the regulations adopted by the community must not discriminate against any group or groups of people. For instance, regulations that exclude low income families or racial minorities from moving to the community are unreasonable and invalid.
The key consideration involves a balancing of the impact of the regulation of an individual against the importance of the public objective the regulation is trying to achieve. In some cases if the impact on the individual is too severe courts may rule that the local government has in effect taken the land and should pay the owner compensation (see Section 6 "The Taking Issue").
Techniques of Managed Growth:
The success of a growth management system depends on a number of factors. The community must carefully study itself and decide what amount and type of growth is desired. Comprehensive policies must be established as to how it wishes to:
*distribute new population
-'preserve safety, health and the environment
*use its financial resources and
*maintain a balance between social and economic goals.
A growth management system must reflect the values and goals of the community. New regulations must be tailored to the special conditions of the town, and geared to its administrative and financial capabilities. To most small towns that means it must be simple, easily understood and administered, and relatively inexpensive.
Summarized below are some of the variety of growth management techniques that can be adopted to supplement traditional methods of land use planning.
1. Short Term Controls
A community may adopt an ordinance or moratorium halting further development until it has had time to study the situation, discuss it, and develop some permanent controls. Such an ordinance must apply to all development and must state a date when it will be lifted. Such restrictions may take the form of discontinuing review of subdivision and zoning applications, withholding building permits, preventing sewer line hook ups or not selling water taps.
Long-term Controls but Non-permanent
a. Timing controls related to the capital improvements budget and program
-- Controlling the location and timing of development according to the provision of utilities.
-- Defining of a future service area and giving priority for utility service to this area.
b. Zoning techniques such as PUD, cluster zoning, special permits, conditional zoning and performance standards.
c. Quota systems and numerical restraints e.g. a limit on the number of building permits or water taps issues.
d. Taxation systems -- e.g. giving tax concessions to owners of agricultural land if it is kept in agricultural use.
e. Annexation adopting a program of orderly annexation that occurs in conjunction with the provision of utilities and services. Designation of a future service area can aid this policy.
f. Eminent domain the local government buying easements, and land to preserve it in open space or so that it can control its development.
g. Development rights transfers TDR's (see Section 5)
h. The Permit System
3. Permanent Long Term Controls
a. Environmental Control limiting or prohibiting development on floodplains, mountainous areas, steep slopes, easily damaged areas.
b. Eminent domain buying permanent open spaces and green belts.
c. Restrictive covenants and other agreements running with the land.
d. Subdivision controls that include site design and development standards.
e. Mandatory dedication of land or money instead of land, e.g. for park land acquisition and development and school sites.
f. Capital budgeting -- restraining growth by the location of new capital facilities.
g. Official mapping of roads, streets, parks and other land to be purchased by the local government.
CHAPTER 14 court coses
This section provides more detailed information on some important legal issues in planning, supplemental to the explanations offered elsewhere in the handbook. The first part discusses the question of how far a municipality can regulate land without actually 'taking' it, thereby requiring a payment of compensation to the owner.
The second section briefly describes some Colorado court decisions on zoning and subdivision of land.
The third section contains copies of the planning and zoning enabling legislation from the Colorado Revised Statutes.
# Part 1
The Taking Issue:
The issue of whether government has taken land and should thus Constitution pay compensation arises from the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. These prohibi t Federal and state governments from taking private land for public use without paying just compensation. The following discussion explains some of the factors which are taken into account when deciding whether land has been taken.
public use Public use means that the interest of the public must be served
by taking the land, often this is referred to as promoting public health, safety, welfare and morals. The courts have been instrumental in defining the extent of government power, balancing public and private interests. The courts have interpreted 'public use1 very broadly to include also physical, aesthetic, and monetary concerns.
For example, land can be legitimately taken for roads, parks and to remove blighted areas of a town.
compensation Just Compensation:
Just compensation requires that a fair price, usually determined by an appraisal of the market value of the property, be paid the owner.
Taking of Land:
taking Most difficulty lies is in determining whether regulations are
so strict that the government has essentially taken the land and should pay the owner compensation. Four rather complex criteria have been established by the courts to determine whether land has been taken.
1. When a regulation seeks to prevent harm being done by an individual, no taking is involved and no compensation is required.
This has its foundation in one of the oldest precepts in common law; no man may use his property to injure someone else.
2. When a regulation is imposed to achieve a public benefit rather than prevent harm then compensation must be paid.
3. When the value of the property is decreased to such an extent
that the owner is left with no reasonable (economically profitable) use, then the land has been taken and compensation must be paid.
4. The public benefits of the regulation are weightd against the extent of loss of property values, the importance of the government policy being achieved against the invasion of private rights. The more important the government policy, the less likely the action will be seen as a taking; the greater the invasion of property rights the more likely compensation will