Hayden weighs growth options | SteamboatToday.com

Hayden weighs growth options

Tamera Manzanares

Hayden residents want the town to plan now for moderate to fast growth.

That was the general consensus among the 45 people who attended a planning forum Thursday at Hayden Town Hall.

The meeting was the third in a series designed to gauge residents’ visions for future development in the town. Bob Perletz and Jeff Winston of Boulder-based Winston Associates have coordinated the process, which will provide a basis for updating the town’s comprehensive plan.

During the meeting, Perletz and Winston presented three potential growth patterns ranging from compact and slow growth following historical development to a sprawling suburban model based on about 6,000 new homes in the next 25 years.

In past forums, residents have said retaining the small size and agricultural character of the town — preserved by decades of slow growth — is important in planning for expected development. However, at Thursday’s meeting, some agreed that the town should leave open the option for more aggressive growth by envisioning larger parcels of land for eventual annexation into the town.

“It seems like you should look at the maximum even if we don’t want to go there,” said Russ Davis, who has owned Davis Auto Parts for 20 years and emphasized that growth is necessary to help struggling businesses.

“If something doesn’t happen growth-wise, they’re going to dry up,” he said.

Many residents were in favor of Perletz and Winston’s suggestion that compact commercial development downtown and light industrial development — particularly in an area west of Yampa Valley Regional Airport — would help balance residential growth.

New businesses and industry would generate sales and property taxes to support new infrastructure and provide a wider employment base to help keep residents’ spending dollars in Hayden.

The town’s quality of life, U.S. Highway 40 and the airport are tools Hayden can use to stimulate job activity, Perletz said.

“I think the commercial segment of this is really important to retain some people here working,” Amy Williams said.

Getting past the generalities of the slow, moderate and fast growth scenarios was difficult for some residents, who questioned whether developers might overbuild and whether commercial development would keep up with residential growth.

Winston explained that large areas of land could be earmarked for development, then annexed into the town in phases. Planning the desired rate of growth now would prevent rash decisions about proposed developments in the future, he said.

Perletz emphasized that the overall goal of updating the plan was to be proactive in the face of growth.

“The purpose is to not let the market drive the community but let the community drive the market,” he said.

While considering the growth patterns, Perletz pointed out that in the slow to moderate patterns — which would allow between 10 and 45 homes a year — the town may have to be more restrictive with development and consider limiting the number of building permits each year, which can be a tough line to draw, he said.

Among other concerns were worries about how agriculturally zoned lots on the edge of town would fit into the growth patterns. Kathy Hockin said her family had purchased agricultural land on the north side of Hayden with the intention of eventually dividing for her children’s homes, a process that may not be allowed under county regulations.

“Part of what makes Hayden special is tight-knit families. … I would like to see that addressed,” she said.

Perletz responded that the town would have to consider those possible uses in planning potential annexation areas.

Based on residents’ feedback, Perletz and Winston will begin drafting alternative comprehensive plans.

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