Town trustees consider urban growth boundary

— Unlimited annexations and development of agricultural land could be prohibited to encourage controlled growth under a proposal being considered by the Hayden Town Board.

At a meeting on Thursday, trustees again reviewed possible changes to a town master plan that is being updated. They considered an "urban growth boundary" as an addition to this master plan, or "Comprehensive Plan."

The urban growth boundary would encourage infill development within a pre-determined boundary line surrounding existing town limits.

"The growth boundary is a visionary guide to help the town develop and grow in a controlled manner," Town Manager Rob Straebel said.

"Boundaries are based on natural features, opportunity for infrastructure extension and the recognition that the town could potentially extend beyond its current boundaries," the revision states.

If an urban growth boundary is established, it would mean that during the lifetime of the updated comprehensive plan an estimated five years development in Hayden could not involve additional annexations of land before the infill of the existing growth boundaries, Straebel explained.

Agricultural lands north of town are not to be developed, according to the plan.

"We should keep it as agricultural land and open space, which makes a lot of sense because it's a flood plain," Straebel said.

Initially, trustees were met with resistance from residents who spoke at the meeting.

"I'm concerned about the restrictive nature of this revision," resident Jack Giessinger said. "What if an excellent development proposal comes our way, but it involves an annexation and land use beyond these boundaries?"

Although board members acknowledged Giessinger's concern that the boundary could indeed limit commercial growth, they emphasized that a comprehensive plan is a visioning document, and is not legally binding.

"It is a tool for guidance," Town Board member Ken Gibbon reminded the group.

Board members agree that the town should not grow haphazardly, and the idea of an urban growth boundary helps control the rate of growth during the lifetime of this comprehensive plan.

The board hopes to get the revised plan regionally adopted, as well as adopted within the town. The Routt County Regional Planning Commission will have to make a recommendation to county commissioners in order for that to happen, Straebel said.

"Regional adoption of the plan will give it more teeth than simply making revisions with the town," Straebel explained.

Additional topics revised within the plan include noise control measures for residential areas surrounding the Yampa Valley Regional Airport.

Trustees considered, but decided against, requiring homes near the airport to be built with in special windows and insulation to minimize noise.

Most homes are insulated well enough for the winter, trustees agreed. and requiring such expensive measures would really be a burden on residents and builders.

"If individuals have problems with the noise, they won't live so close," Salazar said.

The revised plan will also require all developers to make a public disclosure to prospective buyers regarding airport activity.

Revisions to the town's comprehensive plan should be finalized in about six weeks.

To reach Bonnie Nadzam call 871-4205 or e-mail bnadzam@amigo.net

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