What should Littleton look like in 20 years? After a year spent quizzing locals on what they love (or don't love) about the city as part of the Envision Littleton project, city officials are gearing …
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What should Littleton look like in 20 years?
After a year spent quizzing locals on what they love (or don't love) about the city as part of the Envision Littleton project, city officials are gearing up to turn residents' views into a vision for the future.
Envision Littleton is a multi-step process to update the city's comprehensive plan, said City Manager Mark Relph. The plan — called a complan for short — is intended to serve as a set of guiding principles for city decision-making in coming decades, Relph said.
The city will also draft its first-ever transportation master plan this year, meant to create a holistic, citywide plan for traffic and mobility, Relph said.
“It's critical we do this right,” Relph said. “I'm really pleased about the level of feedback we got on the vision piece.”
The project's “vision document,” ratified by city council in December, synthesizes the results of 870 completed surveys and more than 3,000 conversations held with residents and stakeholders at a variety of city-hosted events throughout 2018.
“The consistent message was that people love this community because of its character and charm,” said Littleton Mayor Debbie Brinkman.
Residents cited good parks, high-performing schools, a beloved downtown and amenities like Bemis Library and the Littleton Museum as reasons to love the city.
On the flip side, high on the list of concerns were traffic, growth impacts, the compatibility of redevelopment with neighborhoods, parking, crime, housing affordability and contentious local politics.
The report spells out goals for the future, including maintaining the integrity of established neighborhoods, protecting open space and outdoor amenities, ensuring high-quality and compatible development, and securing the long-term sustainability of city finances.
City council's task in 2019 is to turn the vision document into a complan and transportation master plan that future councils can use to guide decisions large and small, Brinkman said.
“This isn't about what the council or the mayor wants,” Brinkman said. “We're elected to represent the community. Littleton has organically created a community people love, and the message we heard is: don't mess with that. But, we also heard that people appreciate that we will have change, and people will move here.”
Brinkman said an updated complan — the city is currently operating on a complan ratified in 1981 — could help head off fights over development that have inflamed passions in recent years.
“When you're dealing with land use and codes that are nearly 40 years old, you'll have things that conflict with the current day,” Brinkman said.
If all goes according to plan, city council will ratify the complan and transportation master plan by Oct. 2019, said Kathleen Osher, Envision Littleton's project manager.
“This is the part where we dig deep,” Osher said. “During the visioning process, everyone gets what they want. But now it's time to talk nuts and bolts — what can we afford? What's feasible?”
Brinkman said she hopes the public stays engaged in the process.
“We're getting into the heavy lifting,” Brinkman said. “This continues to be a public process. Stay engaged with us.”
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