Carbondale comp plan ready for the home stretch

John Colson
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE – Town trustees and the public will get their first formal look on Tuesday at proposed revisions to the 12-year-old comprehensive land use plan, which is meant to guide development over the next 20 years.

At the Board of Trustees’ regular meeting, planning consultants and members of a working group involved in the revisions will give a 30-minute presentation on the 140-page document.

The presentation is scheduled to begin at about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to the meeting agenda, although times listed on the agenda are only approximate.

Copies of the draft plan are available at Town Hall, 511 Colorado Ave., or on the web at

The revisions are to the town’s existing comp plan, which was adopted in 2000, said consultant Gabe Preston, managing partner of RPI Consulting of Durango.

The 14-member working group developed the revisions from July 2011 through May 2012, Preston said, followed by meetings and public hearings held by the town’s planning and zoning commission.

Preston emphasized that there have been numerous public sessions to gather input and ideas, with the working group and the Planning and Zoning Commission.

“For all intents and purposes, this is a new plan,” Preston said, although many aspects of the old plan have been retained and expanded.

Chief among the changes is a much broader look at how to preserve Carbondale’s small-town character, a top planning goal.

“What they wanted us to do was about managing change into the future, and keep our small town character while we do that,” Preston explained. “We defined that much more thoroughly than the 2000 plan did.”

That involved updating the “existing conditions” data that goes along with the planning process, including information about economic and demographic trends, commercial build-out and other background information.

For example, the plan states that “during 2000-2010, Carbondale’s population became generally older,” with an accompanying decline in the numbers of school-aged children and an increase in the number of non-family households and those with senior citizens.

In addition, the draft document notes that Carbondale’s population grew by 24 percent, or more than 1,200 people, over the decade.

The white, non-Latino population declined by 17 percent, according to the document, while Latino and “other” populations grew by 7 percent and 8 percent, respectively.

The result, according to the plan, is that “in the last decade Carbondale has become more diverse.”

The plan incorporates multi-modal transportation, with an emphasis on bicycling around town, which was not part of the 2000 plan.

“That’s something completely new,” Preston said.

He explained that transportation planning is not typically included in a town’s comprehensive plan revisions.

In Carbondale’s case, however, “It really ties together a lot of the values – the sustainability values, the healthy lifestyle values, that people here have. They don’t want to see it grow so big that you can’t get around town on a bike.”

Preston said it is likely that the draft plan will be the subject of more than one public hearing before the town’s trustees.