Pagosa Springs is a small town located high in the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado. The only incorporated town in Archuleta County (pop 11,000) the town is located 60-miles east of Durango, CO. The Town has zoning, but the County does not.
The area is amazingly picturesque - consisting of a town nestled in a fairly open valley with the Continental Divide forming the northern and eastern views. Tourists, real estate and wildlife (hunting) drive the economy. Large animal freely roam the countryside, wildlife abounds. It is clean, quiet and 5 1/2 hours from any major metro area.
Pagosa Springs is undergoing a growth spurt as it has become “discovered” by retirees, wilderness lovers and second homeowners. (Another topic thread, I'm sure!)
Recently, a “Community Vision Council (CVC),” was formed by a “local committee of concerned residents.” The CVC consists of a local property owner (more on this later,) the Town Mayor, a Realtor and others. For more background see:
The CVCs stated goal is:
The CVC has hired a planning firm, Hart Howerton, to develop a Conceptual Master Plan for the downtown area. Based upon these studies and the goals of the group, the Council determined that there were three areas of priority that required immediate action:
"Given the inevitability of increased growth to the area, the Community Vision Council recognizes the need to guide growth in a way that preserves the intrinsic qualities of Pagosa Springs. Through a combination of positioning and planning strategies, The CVC seeks to encourage a healthy economy while sustaining the unspoiled natural environment of the region and a vibrant and diverse community."
1) development of a Master Plan for the downtown area;The CVC produced a LOT of beautiful illustrations showing the CVC vision of how downtown Pagosa might look. (See www.pagosa.com/1204/local/cvc1.htm for the illustrations.) The “Conceptual Master Plan for Pagosa Springs” was presented (sprung is more like it) fully formed upon the citizens of Pagosa at a series of public meetings (see the pagosa.com links above for details.)
2) market research; and
3) determining an appropriate organizational structure to facilitate communication between the various entities in our community.
Ah, here is what I mean about the “Cart before the horse” – the Conceptual Master Plan was presented to the public fully formed to the CVCs vision of what the downtown area should look like – and was presented as “Conceptual” but upon close examination some found some radical changes to “their” downtown, that just happen to benefit a local landowner – the co-chair of the project.
See, the CVC is co-chaired by the Town Major and a Mr. Brown. Mr. Brown has been slowly buying up properties in the core downtown area and many of these properties had radically different uses (Hotels, etc) under the “conceptual” plan. Nothing wrong with Capitalism, right? Grow is going to happen – might as well guide it – right? It seemed to many of the public citizens in attendance that there was a lot of marketing and "branding" in the conceptual plan. The CVC envisioned a "Town in a National Park setting, like Yellowstone, etc."
The crux of this post is this – (and really, you have to read the stories at the links above to grasp the entirety of the situation) – it seems to this poor Planner that if you are going to have a “COMMUNITY” vision, that the community should be involved from the beginning, and not included as an after thought. Now, I am sure that Mr. Brown is totally honorable in his intentions, and cares about the Town and area. He owns several thousand acres in the area and want to make it nice. But, is the cart before the horse here, or what?
PS – Pagosa Springs has several other very interesting planning problems, such as the start of a “zoning code” for the County, having a development company from southern California come in and buy every single available lot under a certain price in the “core” area (outside of Town limits….) Respond if you want to hear more……or just check out www.pagosa.com or www.planetpagosa.com