Letter - Great Places don't just happen!

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Published Friday, October 20, 2017

What makes Great Places, and why do so many communities wish they had just one more chance? How can we harness a Boom? How do we create an enchanted downtown and other wonderful community amenities? There is only One Way!!

The Aspen's, Austin's, Boulder's and Sedona's don't just happen. What makes great places is their Vision! The Houston's, Farmington's and Gillette's fell victim to the oft-quoted Ed McMann's (ULI) saying "If your community doesn't control development, then development controls your community".

Great Places have a Great Vision, and vision-keepers that persistently pursue their intentional future. Without that vision, persistent pursuit of community desires is undermined from the get/go. Zoning authority, police powers and funding streams enable critical pieces of this intentional future to be realized. Piece by piece these great places are proactively pursued. Without a vivid community plan none of this is possible. It is this expressed community desires that legitimizes all local public expenditures.

Even in those declining communities, doing nothing is a mistake. The most basic plans need to express local desires for education and safety, thus legitimizing local expenditures for schools, police and fire, water and sewer. Standing still, is in reality, losing ground.

These visions need to be vivid enough that each land use application can be held up and compared against that aspirational future plan to assure it is compliant or not. The mistakes we make we usually have to live with forever, and without a clear view of what we want, it is impossible to recognize those good or bad choices when they presents themselves.

Those communities blessed with growth, the progress is so much easier! Communities that have developed a vivid vision are now 'shovel ready'. As growth occurs, the intentional future is actualized.

Regardless if your community is large or small, rich or poor, the only way to achieve community needs and desires is with an up to date, vivid comprehensive plan. That is how great places happen.

Colorado State Demographer predicts that Elbert County will add 42,000 new residents in the next 23 years, which is a mind blowing 145% increase!! Now is the time to create a vivid intentional future, in order to harness the benefits and minimize unwanted consequences. Finish your Comprehensive Plan!  Elbert Citizens need to demand and deserve to become a world-class Great Place!

Steve Mullen, Land Use Planner