1 - A
- PURPOSE AND INTENT
- The primary purpose of
this document is to function as the overall policy element of
the county master plan. It should be relied on by the Planning
Commission and the Board of County Commissioners for guidance,
direction and expectations concerning broader land use planning
issues including growth management, compatibility, land use equity,
property rights, and service standards. A secondary purpose of
this Plan is to provide a framework to tie together the more
detailed sub-area and topical elements of the Master Plan. These
specific elements are identified in Appendix II.
- This Policy Plan is also
meant to address topics which can be best approached from a regional
perspective. To a degree, this Policy Plan provides a balance
to the Small Area Plans which may not fully address issues either
through oversight or because they are locally controversial.
- This Plan will apply primarily
to those unincorporated areas where the County has land use authority.
However, it should also serve to enhance cooperative planning
processes and decision-making throughout El Paso County, its
municipalities, federal installations, and neighboring counties.
- Upon adoption by the El
Paso County Planning Commission, the effect of this document
is to supersede the Pikes Peak Regional Land Use Plan-1990 (which
was adopted in 1970) as the core element of the El Paso County
Master Plan. All other duly adopted elements of the Master Plan
will remain in force until action is taken to specifically delete
or update them.
to El Paso County
- El Paso County's nearly
2,200 square miles cover an area larger than the State of Delaware.
Encompassed within it is a wide diversity of natural environments,
ranging from the alpine ecosystems on the summit of 14,110 foot
Pikes Peak to near-desert conditions at its point of lowest elevation
(5,060 feet) in the south-central part of the County. Most of
this territory is unincorporated.
- The corresponding development
patterns which characterize these unincorporated areas are diverse.
They include extensive suburban communities such as Security
and Widefield in Fountain Valley and larger lot urban density
developments such as Woodmoor in the Tri-Lakes area. Also included
are rural residential subdivisions like those which predominate
in the Black Forest and areas such as the south central part
of the County which remain profoundly rural or agricultural in
character. Large public holdings, including military installations,
U.S. Forest Service properties, and utility-owned lands complete
this unincorporated mosaic.
- Growth and
- All unincorporated areas
have experienced the impacts of both growth and change over the
past several decades, some more than others. Growth, as defined
in Section 6.0, is the addition of population, employment and
the corresponding housing, nonresidential development and facilities
needed to support them. Change is defined as the land use activities
which occur in response to the dynamics of the land development
market even when there is no net growth. Over the past 15 years,
the unincorporated population has grown by 50% from about 80,000
persons to a total of 120,000. When land use changes and annexations
are factored along with population increases, the impacts of
growth are more pronounced.
- Prior County-wide
- The operative core element
of the Master Plan has been the Pikes Peak Regional Land Use
Plan- 1990 which was adopted in 1970. It was prepared in conjunction
with the County's first federally-mandated regional transportation
plan. The 1990 Plan utilized a fairly detailed map approach from
which traffic projections were generated. Over the past 25 years,
this map has become progressively outdated. Reasons for this
include intervening annexation and land use approval which have
deviated from the map, as well as the subsequent adoption of
more site-specific master plan elements for many parts of the
County. In 1993, the Planning Division proposed a plan to update
and replace the 1990 Plan with a policy element. This recommendation
was endorsed by the Planning Commission and Board of County Commissioners.
- Legal Authority
- Pursuant to state statute
(C.R.S. 30-28-101 et. seq.), it is the duty of the County Planning
Commission to make and adopt a master plan for the unincorporated
County. While the statutes clearly recognize the essential role
of the master plan, it is considered advisory and not legally
binding upon the land use decisions of the County.
- Process and Approach
- The process and approach
used to develop this plan were comprehensive and participatory.
They are summarized in Figure I-1 below. The Board of County
Commissioners began this process in 1994 by advertising for and
appointing a broadly representative 22-member Oversight Committee
("Committee") to actively assist in the preparation
of this Plan. One of the Committee's first actions was to appoint
a subcommittee to do much of the initial policy drafting in collaboration
with staff. The Subcommittee comprised selected Committee members
along with two additional appointees, representing the staffs
of the Housing and Building Association (HBA) and the Pikes Peak
Area Council of Governments (PPACG), respectively. Throughout
the planning process, the Board of County Commissioners was provided
with quarterly reports concerning progress and key issues. Their
basic direction was to take as much time as needed to do a thorough
job, including addressing potentially controversial subjects.
- Meeting and
Internal Review Process
- The Committee met once
or twice each month throughout the three-year period, culminating
in the approval of a final draft in mid-1997. An overall mission
statement was adopted and a list of topical areas was identified.
This topical organization was further refined as the process
moved forward. The Committee realized early in the process the
necessity of a working Subcommittee to examine in more detail
some of the more complex and controversial issues. The Subcommittee
met weekly to consider issues and work on developing policy sections.
Draft policy sections were then provided to the Committee for
its comments. While some meetings focused on Committee education
and establishment of a working schedule and format with which
to address pertinent issues, the majority of meetings was devoted
to developing the Policy Plan. Staff provided background and
preliminary issue identification for each topic. Often outside
specialists were brought in to share their expertise and perspectives.
Staff then prepared an initial draft of each policy section for
the committees to review. Meetings were devoted to considering
the issues, formulating policies, and developing consensus. Each
section included components addressing background, issues, goals,
and policies. More complete policy sections were brought forward
from the Subcommittee to the Committee for discussion and eventually
given interim approval. Often, the sections went back and forth
between the Committee and Subcommittee several times as input
was received. In many cases, draft sections were also provided
to outside individuals, agencies, and Planning Division staff
for their review and comment which were then considered by the
Committee for incorporation into the Policy Plan.
- Source Materials
- In many instances, staff
and the Committees made use of existing documents as sources
for draft policies. The two plans most often used were the City
of Colorado Springs Comprehensive Plan and the City of Austin,
Texas Plan. The Colorado Springs Plan was used because of its
relevance and to promote consistency. The Austin Plan was identified
by the Committee as being a particularly good source of policy
ideas. Staff also attempted to integrate as much previously written
and unwritten County policy as possible into these initial policy
- Public Participation
- The Committee itself was
structured to be broadly representative. Public input and participation
was identified early as being critical to the process. There
were a number of attempts at general public outreach during the
Plan formulation phase. These included mailings and periodic
releases to the media. All committee meetings were open to the
general public. A more concerted public outreach effort was undertaken
once a complete draft of the Plan was completed. As part of this
effort the Committee conducted a general public meeting and posted
a copy of the document for review on the County's Internet Web
- In the end, almost all
of the draft language was agreed to by consensus. There were
a limited number of votes taken. Final editing of the interim
draft was accomplished by a special subcommittee established
for this purpose.
- On November 11, 1997,
the Committee voted to approve a complete draft of the Plan to
be submitted to the Planning Commission for final action.
- Plan Organization and
- Mission Statement
- The operative part of
this Plan begins with a Mission Statement. The operating principles
are intended to represent the basic underpinnings of the Plan.
The Committee periodically referred back to these essential points
for guidance and to verify their continuing viability.
- In recognition of the
fact that policy interpretation will present a difficult challenge
in future situations, a great deal of emphasis was placed upon
defining terms for use in this document. These terms are all
included in the Glossary of Terms and highlighted as they
appear in this Plan.
- Policy Sections
- The fifteen policy sections
are organized under five categories to help identify their interrelationship
within the overall land use planning process. Each of the sections
begins with a brief background summary followed by issue statements
and corresponding goals and policies. It should be recognized
that some overlap is unavoidable when this kind of organizational
approach is applied; many land use issues do not neatly fall
within one discrete category.
- Every effort has been
made to keep this document short and to the point. Therefore,
the primary appendices are limited to the population and employment
projections used for this plan, a list of master Plan Elements,
a more detailed summary of the Small Area Plans, and an index
of other relevant planning documents.
- A much more extensive
separate Technical Appendix has been assembled to complement
this primary document. It includes complete documentation of
the planning process, informational memoranda, key handouts,
and related materials.
- How the Plan Should
- This Plan was developed
with the expectation that it will be used actively and continuously.
However, it is important to understand that many of the actual
applications of this Plan will be tied to actions initiated through
the private market. It will be largely up to developers and property
owners to come up with the land use ideas and proposals which
can then be evaluated against this document. However, there will
be many instances where the County may more proactively go about
implementing this Plan. For example, this Plan will be relied
upon for guidance in decisions concerning County land uses and
infrastructure as well as the development of new and amended
to Other Plan Elements
- As articulated in Section
1.0, this document is meant to be used in conjunction with the
County's Small Area Plans and topical elements. They should be
relied upon for specific land use guidance or detailed direction
within the context of the subjects they address. This Policy
Plan should be used for broader guidance, to ensure equity and
consistency across the County and as a source of direction in
those cases where it is not found in other Plan elements. In
some cases, there will be a challenge involved in reconciling
the community-wide planning expectations included in this document
with the more locally focused but equally important perspectives
contained in the Small Area Plans.
- The applicable policies
in this document should be considered and applied comprehensively
rather than singularly. Most development proposals will naturally
be consistent with some policies while inconsistent with others.
The appropriate approach is to evaluate all of the relevant policies
and then make a land use decision with respect to overall consistency
based upon a preponderance of the policies within this Policy
Plan. It is not the intent of this plan to prescribe a hierarchy
of policy statements. Rather, the significance of particular
goals and policies derives from their utilization as part of
the land use decision-making process and their application to
specific land use proposals and issues.
- This Plan cannot address
all possible land use eventualities. As areas of oversight or
confusion are identified, or parts of the Plan become dated,
it should be amended. However, amendments should not be taken
lightly. The amendment process should be careful, inclusive,
and comprehensive enough so that the basic integrity of this
product and process is preserved. The implementation section
of this document contains the recommendation that this Plan be
comprehensively reviewed and updated every five years. The expectation
is that this process of comprehensive updating will be both intensive
and extensive. However, the hope is that this Plan will have
served well enough to make updates a limited effort when compared
with the scope of preparing this original effort.