Board delays vote on comprehensive plan

Thousands of people filled the streets of downtown Littleton during Western Welcome Week's festival day in August.
Posted

Littleton’s planning board took another look at its proposed comprehensive plan Oct. 16 after hearing comments from the public that it lacks specificity.

“It reminds me of how everybody can use the Bible to support their own ideas,” Betty Harris told the board on Oct. 14.

The plan, written in 1981, has been stuck since 2005 between those who think it should be an action plan and those who see it as a guiding vision. Required by state law, it guides the evolution of the city and is supposed to reflect the residents’ desires. It tends to emphasize things like community character over specifics like lighting and height requirements, which are dealt with in zoning laws.

Creating it is up to the planning board, but council must ultimately approve it.

Former planning-board member David Metcalf has long argued for more detail and is not pleased with the current version, saying it doesn’t reflect much of the work his board did.

“Whatever you do with it, I am here to respectively insist that my name be deleted from the document,” he told the board Oct. 14. “I want nothing to do with it.”

He did the same thing in 2011 when his board presented the downtown-area plan to city council for ratification, which ultimately happened in January 2012 after a drawn-out controversy.

But Randy Duzan, the current chair, says there will be more detail in the specific neighborhood and corridor plans, which still need updating, and that the citywide plan guides what’s in those and the very specific zoning codes.

“But at the very top is this board, staff and city council,” he said. “It’s up to us, as professionals and volunteers and citizens, to evaluate every application with all of these supporting documents and make a final decision.”

Board member Kurt Samuelson agreed.

“This is overarching for the city, and people think it’s specific to their neighborhood,” he said.

During the hearing, there was some concern that the plan allows for annexation.

“I wonder how we’re going to keep our small-town feel if we’re going to start annexing,” said Carol Brzeczek.

But Duzan noted it doesn’t require annexation.

“We should have the opportunity to use that tool if appropriate,” he said.

Some people just want the process to move forward.

“All comprehensive plans attempt to be perfect, and none of them are,” said Kent Bagley, who chaired the board in 2006, when council scrapped that version. “The day that they are made, they’re almost out of date. … I think it’s better to be looking ahead rather than in the rearview mirror of 1981.”

Council is tentatively set to make a decision on the plan on Nov. 5. It can be viewed at the city’s website, www.littletongov.org.

No comments on this story | Add your comment
Please log in or register to add your comment