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Hayden seeking input

Community will host forum Thursday

Tamera Manzanares

— Ever wonder what Hayden might look like with 13,000 more people?

The idea may seem extreme, but a scenario for a population of that size will be among potential growth patterns presented during a planning forum Thursday.

Town leaders are urging residents to share their vision for Hayden’s future during “Defining Hayden’s Future Alternatives,” the third in a series of public meetings held by the Boulder-based Winston Associates planning firm.

The firm is helping the town update its comprehensive plan in the face of expected development in Hayden, which includes the proposed 2,000-home Villages subdivision.

“We have an opportunity to be proactive instead of reactive,” said Donna Hellyer, chairwoman of the Hayden Planning Commission.

This will be the last meeting to gauge residents’ hopes for Hayden’s future before Winston Associates begins drafting the town’s new comprehensive plan, Town Manager Russ Martin said.

“We’d rather have the input now than at the end,” he said.

The goal of Thursday’s meeting is to decide the direction for growth, based on three growth scenarios. The scenarios range from a sprawling growth pattern to balanced and compact growth following historical development in Hayden, said Bob Perletz, senior associate with Winston Associates.

The firm devised the different versions of growth in part from residents’ comments at previous meetings, which included assertions that 15,000 residents may be the right size for the town in 20 years. The town’s population is about 1,650 residents.

In the first growth alternative, residential development would continue at a slow pace of about 10 to 15 homes a year and would take place in traditional growth areas — mainly flat land near the Yampa River. Commercial development would be compact and consolidated in one area to attract pedestrian shoppers.

In the second growth scenario, residential development would proceed at a moderate pace of about 40 to 45 homes a year and would be comprised of more suburban-style development taking place beyond traditional growth patterns.

The third alternative, based on a population of 15,000 by 2025, would require the town to annex enough land to sustain 300 new homes a year. As the population grows, more regionally based retail stores, such as Wal-Mart, likely would be built.

Fiscally balanced growth, already a challenge in Hayden, will become more difficult as the town moves away from slow growth, Perletz said.

Property and sales tax revenues typically fund infrastructure to new homes. But sales tax dollars are in short supply in Hayden, where the average person spends $9,000 annually on taxable purchases, compared to the average person in Routt County, who spends about $21,000 a year on taxable purchases, Perletz said.

Sales tax revenue from the Yampa Valley Regional Airport, though significant, will not drastically change with a growing population, he added.

A key aspect of balancing growth is encouraging commercial growth and employment opportunities for people living in Hayden. In a slow- to medium-growth scenario, retail services would meet the demand of an increasing population and, in turn, keep residents’ sales tax dollars in the town.

However, residential growth of 300 homes annually would be hard to balance with enough employment, Perletz said.

A wider employment base also would fit with opinions expressed at previous forums hoping for a community of people who choose to live in Hayden because they want to, rather than those who live in Hayden because they can’t afford to live in Steamboat.

“I think we have a wonderful opportunity to make Hayden a model city,” said Hellyer, who emphasized the importance of the comprehensive plan in guiding city officials’ decisions regarding land use, zoning and ordinances.

“A lot of the things we have now don’t address the new things we have coming in,” she said.

Although the comprehensive plan is not a regulatory document, Hellyer predicted at some point state statute will require such plans dictate growth.

Hellyer also stressed that this is residents’ chance to impact growth rather than complain about it later.

The planning forum will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the Hayden Town Hall.

— To reach Tamera Manzanares call 871-4204 or e-mail tmanzanares@steamboatpilot.com


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