The Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan policies provide overarching direction for planning, development and programs in the Boulder Valley. Implementation tools that translate the plan into action include:
Subcommunity and area planning bridges the gap between the broad policies of the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan and site specific project review (development applications or city capital projects).
Subcommunity and area plans:
Area plans typically address planning issues at a more detailed level than subcommunity plans. The planning horizon for subcommunity and area plans is the same as that for the Comprehensive Plan—15 years.
The subcommunity and area planning process includes:
Boulder County is involved in the development of plans that affect land in Area II or III.
Subcommunity and area plans are adopted by Planning Board and City Council and amended as needed with the same legislative process as originally adopted.
There are nine subcommunity planning areas within the Service Area: Central Boulder, Crossroads, the University of Colorado, East Boulder, Southeast Boulder, South Boulder, North Boulder, Palo Park, and Gunbarrel.
When the subcommunity and area planning program was instituted in 1990, the idea was to develop plans for all of the subcommunities. The North Boulder Subcommunity Plan was the ﬁrst because the area had the largest amount of vacant land in the city at the time and a significant amount of change was anticipated.
As the city becomes more fully developed, the need for extensive planning at the subcommunity planning level has lessened, and it is now thought that not all subcommunities will necessarily have subcommunity plans. If they do, they will address fewer issues than were tackled in the North Boulder Subcommunity Plan. It is anticipated that each subcommunity plan will be evaluated as needed and monitored annually through the Capital Improvements Program (CIP) and the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan Action Plan.
Area plans are developed for areas with special problems or opportunities that are not adequately addressed by comprehensive planning, subcommunity planning or existing land use regulations. Area planning is initiated as issues or opportunities arise.
Criteria for Selection
The criteria for selecting the priority for the development of subcommunity and area plans are:
Adopted Subcommunity and Area Plans
The city has adopted the following subcommunity or area plans:
North Boulder Subcommunity Plan
The North Boulder Subcommunity Plan was adopted in 1995 to develop a vision for an area that had considerable development potential. The plan aims to preserve the present character and livability of the existing residential neighborhoods and ensure that future changes are beneﬁcial to both the subcommunity and the city as a whole. A new mixed use village center along Broadway is envisioned to become the heart of subcommunity activity. New neighborhoods in the northern portion of the subcommunity are meant to create a strong edge to the city and an attractive entrance into Boulder.
Implementation of the Plan
The North Boulder Subcommunity Plan was the basis for re-zoning of a portion of the area in 1997. Five new zoning districts were created to implement the design guidelines in the plan, including: a business main street zone, patterned after historic ‘Main Street’ business districts; three mixed use zones that provide a transition between the higher intensity business ‘Main Street’ and surrounding residential or industrial areas; and a mixed density residential zone district. The plan also established a street and pedestrian/bicycle network plan, to which developing or re-developing properties must adhere.
Gunbarrel Community Center Plan
The Gunbarrel Community Center Plan, adopted in 2004 and amended in 2006, provides a blueprint for transitioning the Gunbarrel commercial area from mostly light industrial uses to a viable and vibrant, pedestrian-oriented commercial center serving Gunbarrel subcommunity residents and workers. This will involve: expanding the amount of retail and allowing more density in the retail area; adding new residential and some offices uses in proximity to the retail core; and providing more vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle connections to and from and within the center. The new connections will improve access, break down the existing “superblocks,” provide better visibility to shops, and promote more pedestrian-scale architecture and outdoor spaces. Spine Road between Lookout and Gunpark roads will become the ‘Main Street’ for the retail area.
Implementation of the Plan
Transit Village Area Plan/ Boulder Junction
The Transit Village Area Plan guides development of an area that is within walking distance of a future transit hub near 30th and Pearl streets, which will provide regional and local bus and rail service. The plan recommends land use changes to transform this mostly industrial, low density, automobile-oriented area into a more urban, higher density, pedestrian-oriented environment, with a mixture of uses, including new retail and office, and new residential neighborhoods for a diversity of incomes and lifestyles. Many of the existing service commercial and industrial uses on the north and east side of the area, respectively, will continue. The plan also focuses on: developing new, high-quality public spaces and streets; creating a new home for the historic Union-Pacific train depot; and protecting and enhancing Goose Creek.
Implementation of the Plan
After adoption of the plan, the area was renamed Boulder Junction. Implementation will entail significant public investment in the transit facilities, the adjacent pocket park and civic plaza, the new north-south collector road, rehabilitation of the Depot, Goose Creek enhancements and the city-owned site at the northeast corner of the 30th and Pearl intersection. Property owners will contribute to construction of new streets, sidewalks and bicycle facilities when they develop their properties. In 2010 and 2011, land use and zoning changes were made on the west side of the area, and a general improvement district was formed to manage parking and provide Transportation Demand Management services. Land use changes and public improvements on the east side of the area will occur later, after substantial redevelopment of the west side.
The Downtown, the University and the Boulder Valley Regional Center areas constitute the three primary activity centers within the Boulder Valley’s central area.
The Downtown is the heart of Boulder—a hub of civic, social, cultural, entertainment, spiritual, professional and commercial activity. The Pearl Street Mall provides a unique pedestrian experience, with surrounding historic residential neighborhoods, newer commercial and mixed use buildings, the city’s civic center and Boulder Creek in close proximity. Several documents and districts work to maintain and enhance the Downtown environment:
Boulder Valley Regional Center
The Boulder Valley Regional Center (BVRC) is a primarily commercial area, providing retail at a range of scales, restaurants, offices, and hotels in the geographic center of Boulder. There is also some high-density housing, two parks and the Dairy Center for the Arts. The BVRC was established as an urban renewal district in 1979 to revitalize the area, with public improvements financed by bonds that were paid off in 2002. The following plans and guidelines continue to guide redevelopment and evolution of the area into a more attractive, pedestrian-, bicycle- and transit-friendly place:
University of Colorado and University Hill
The University of Colorado-Boulder (CU-Boulder) is an important part of the Boulder Valley’s intellectual, cultural, social and economic life. The University’s plans for expansion are set forth primarily in these documents:
The University Hill business district, to the west of Main Campus across Broadway, serves both the university population and the surrounding neighborhood, with restaurants, shopping and entertainment. Efforts to revitalize and diversify uses on The Hill to include more housing, some office, a broader range of retail offerings and increased cultural activities are guided by the following:
Goals for specific Central Area neighborhoods near the Downtown and the University are as follows:
City departments prepare master plans to provide a common framework for planning the delivery and funding of city services, facilities and programs. These, in turn, provide the basis for capital improvement programming and operational budgeting. Master plans are developed to be consistent with the policies, plans, and population and employment projections provided in the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan.
Master plan summaries:
Each summary has a link to the full plans.
The 2005 Open Space and Mountain Parks Visitor Master Plan (VMP) serves as a framework for how Open Space and Mountain Parks will provide high quality visitor experiences while protecting and preserving signiﬁcant natural areas and valuable habitats for native plants and animals. The VMP contains goals, objectives, policy guidance and an overview of strategies and investment programs that the city and community intend to accomplish by the year 2015. Future planning for Open Space and Mountain Parks will combine landscape level planning with protecting or restoring native ecosystems, maintaining viable and functional plant and animal communities and habitats, and maintaining sustainable historical land uses in the Boulder Valley. Priorities will be consistent with the purposes of Open Space as speciﬁed in the City Charter.
The 2006 Parks and Recreation Master Plan is a strategic guide for decision-making for the department through 2016. The plan goals include: maintain and protect parks and recreation facilities and programs; fill in the gaps in the parks and recreation system; engage a broader range of the community, especially underrepresented populations; and be a community leader in environmental sustainability. A major focus of the master plan is financial sustainability and is based on three funding levels: ﬁscally constrained or present budget level, action plan, and vision plan levels. The plan presents a vision for the future, what the department intends to do within each funding level, including speciﬁc recommendations for parks and recreation facilities, and the amount of funding each level will require. Additionally, the plan identiﬁes potential new funding sources to be explored.
Since 1989, the Transportation Master Plan (TMP) has placed transportation plans and programs within the context of the broader community goals to protect the natural environment and enhance Boulder s quality of life. The TMP recognizes that Boulder is unlikely to build signiﬁcant additional road capacity due to environmental, ﬁnancial and community constraints. The plan establishes the following goals:
These goals are measured according to the following objectives:
The 2003 update to the TMP identiﬁed four focus areas for strategic action: multimodal corridors, regional travel, transportation demand management (TDM) and funding. The 2008 update reﬂects the work of the FasTracks Local Optimization process, which reafﬁrmed the policy direction of the plan, reﬂected changing ﬁnancial conditions and added the scaled down, strategic Complete Streets investment program.
The 2001 Greenways Master Plan integrates multiple city objectives for Boulder’s riparian corridors:
The basis of the plan is the understanding that stream corridors are a vital link in the larger ecosystem and that each stream is an important natural and cultural resource in the community. The plan includes baseline studies and recommended improvements for each corridor, processes for project planning and public involvement, a maintenance strategy and funding opportunities. Greenways projects are funded from a variety of sources, and several boards are involved, under the auspices of the Greenways Advisory Committee, in planning, reviewing and approving projects: the Water Resources Advisory Board, Transportation Advisory Board, Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, the Open Space Board of Trustees, Environmental Advisory Board and Planning Board. An update to the master plan is expected to be completed in 2011.
The Fire Department is responsible for the protection of life and property through ﬁre prevention, education, ﬁre suppression and emergency medical and rescue services. The 1996 Fire and Rescue Master Plan outlines the Fire Department’s goals as:
The master plan includes the departmental philosophy, service standards, and fire protection goals and objectives. An update to the plan is anticipated to be completed in 2011.
The Boulder Police Department provides both service and safety and has adopted a philosophical shift from a traditional 911-driven, purely reactive approach to an emphasis on community-based, prevention-oriented police services. The department deﬁnes its fundamental responsibilities as the following:
The 2001 Police Master Plan focuses on internal changes that continue earlier improvements and do not require additional stafﬁng or funding. An update to the plan is anticipated to be completed in 2011.
The 2009 Source Water Master Plan (SWMP) takes a broad watershed perspective to guide source water management. The SWMP presents facility improvements to Boulder’s water supply system, including storage, conveyance, hydroelectric and treatment, for the next 20 years. The plan also includes reliability standards for the water provided by the city, based on the type of uses, ranging from those uses that require an assured supply, such as drinking water and ﬁreﬁghting, to those that can tolerate occasional restrictions, such as lawn irrigation and car washing. The plan anticipates that the city will maintain a diversity of water supply sources (both East and West Slope sources) to increase supply reliability and hedge against droughts. Extensive modeling shows that the city has sufficient supply holdings to meet the ultimate municipal water needs of expected development levels within the city’s water service boundaries. In addition to residential and commercial consumptive uses, the city's raw water supply has been used for maintaining streamﬂow and enhancing stream habitat in Boulder Creek and its tributaries and for leasing to downstream agricultural and recreational users.
The Treated Water Master Plan was updated in 2000 to reassess the city’s treated water system and present a plan for future system development needs. The city’s treated water facilities include water treatment plants, reservoirs, pump stations, hydroelectric facilities, pressure reducing station and the transmission/distribution lines (water mains). Major items considered in the plan update included revisions to water quality regulations and standards, changes to Boulder’s land use and zoning, and completion of many facility improvements. The plan also set reliability criteria for delivery of treated water. As a result of the plan update, the city continued a moderate water conservation program aimed at reducing the peak water demand and began aggressively replacing aging water distribution pipes. The Utilities Division also developed a computerized hydraulic model of the water delivery system. An update to the plan is expected to be completed in 2011.
The 2009 Wastewater Utility Master Plan (WWUMP) presents key issues, programs, policies and associated budgets for the wastewater collection system, wastewater treatment plant, and water quality programs. The WWUMP is supported by three primary planning documents: the Wastewater Collection System Master Plan (updated in 2009), the Wastewater Treatment Plant Master Plan (updated in 2007) and the Water Quality Strategic Plan (updated in 2009).
The three guiding principles for the WWUMP are:
The wastewater treatment plant has recently undergone significant modifications to increase the hydraulic capacity to 25 million gallons per day and meet future ammonia-nitrogen limit requirements. The Wastewater Collection System Master Plan included the development of a new GIS-based hydraulic sewer model.
The Comprehensive Flood and Stormwater Utility Master Plan, adopted in 2004, serves as the framework for evaluating, developing and implementing various programs and activities in the flood and stormwater utility within the scope of the available budget. The master plan outlines the following guiding principles for managing the utility:
The Boulder Public Library (BPL) contributes to social sustainability goals by providing free library services that allow community members of all incomes, ages, and backgrounds to stand on equal footing with regard to information access. BPL also serves as a community center, providing spaces for a wide variety of public gatherings and cultural events. The 2007 Library Master Plan identifies four strategic issues that must be addressed for the library to continue to meet the needs of the Boulder community:
Master plan goals include:
The 2005 Cultural Master Plan was created by the Boulder Arts Commission and provides an updated look at Boulder’s accomplishments in the arts, the current strengths and weaknesses of the arts community, and the economic benefit of the arts to the greater community. The plan re-emphasizes the vision laid out in the original 1992 master plan: to position Boulder as an important year-round center for the arts—with “the arts”
defined broadly to encompass all visual, literary, performing, traditional, experimental and folk disciplines—and to ensure that art is inclusive of all peoples, ages and cultures. The master plan is specifically crafted to respond to the financial challenges currently faced by arts organizations. It contains goals and objectives in five key areas:
The city Historic Preservation program designates historic districts and individual landmarks, lists structures or sites of merit, and reviews and approves proposed alterations to historic properties, new construction in historic districts, and demolitions of buildings over 50 years old, in addition to carrying out special projects. As of 2011, there were ten designated historic districts in Boulder:
There are over 160 individual landmarks, most of which are located in the Central Area.
Some parts of the Downtown and University Hill neighborhoods have the potential to be designated as historic districts, and each neighborhood has individual buildings of landmark quality. Potential districts and individual landmarks have been identified through surveys. Official district or landmark designation is typically initiated by the property owners with support from the city. There are over sixty approved structures of merit that are not currently landmarked but have historic, architectural or aesthetic merit.
Exterior changes to landmarks and properties located in historic districts must meet the purposes and standards outlined in the historic preservation code and adopted design guidelines. There are specific guidelines for a number of historic districts, as well as general design guidelines that apply to all designated local districts and individual landmarks.
The 2006 Housing and Human Services (HHS) Master Plan is a strategic guide for decision-making and allocation of resources for the department through 2015. The plan focuses on creating a healthy community by providing and supporting diverse housing and human services to Boulder residents in need. The plan goals focus on three key city roles:
Through these three roles, the HHS Master Plan puts forth guiding principles that shape HHS policies and programs to fulfill its mission in five priority areas: Housing; Children, Youth, and Families; Senior Services; Office of Human Rights and Community Relations; and Human Services Policy and Planning. The guiding principles provide for program delivery that focuses on safety net services, community responsibility and social equity, economic and social diversity, and self-sufficiency.
The Facilities and Asset Management (FAM) workgroup in the city Public Works Department maintains over 100 city facilities. The 2005 FAM Master Plan establishes methods and performance measures for managing FAM facilities and assets and promotes cost-effective programs that provide safe, clean and efficient environments for the public and city staff. It reinforces the need for high quality design in municipal projects and addresses environmental sustainability goals on all levels, for example, proper waste management, selection of replaceable materials, installation of energy efﬁcient equipment, and maximizing renewable energy sources. The plan lays out goals and objectives for the next 10 years, through 2014, and is based on the assumption that resources from the General Fund will continue to be limited. An update to the master plan is expected to be completed in 2011.
Boulder Municipal Airport (BMA) is a general aviation airport owned and operated by the city. It has served the Boulder aviation community since 1928 and focuses on recreational ﬂying, local business-related ﬂights, ﬂight training, ﬁre/rescue ﬂights and parachuting. The airport has 190 based aircraft, one runway and one glider strip. The 2006 Airport Master Plan Update assesses the current and anticipated needs of the Airport and plans facility and management improvements for the next 20 years. It outlines the following goals:
The number of aircraft operations is forecasted to remain at current levels or at levels experienced in the past 15 to 20 years. Major changes to the facility are not proposed; improvements are primarily focused on maintaining the facility and operations, as well as meeting aircraft storage needs if the market demands.
The 2006 Master Plan for Waste Reduction identifies avenues for the Boulder community to achieve zero waste at three different levels of funding, through a combination of facilities, regulations, and services and programs provided by the city, the county and partner nonprofits. Examples include: drop-off centers for recyclable, re-usable and hazardous materials; mandatory construction and demolition material recycling; curbside recyclable and compostable pick-up service; education programs; and rebates. An update to the master plan is expected to be completed in 2011.
The 2009 Community Guide to Boulder’s Climate Action Plan is a roadmap for reducing community greenhouse gas emissions. It updates and expands the 2006 Climate Action Plan (CAP). The Community Guide lays out a set of strategies for the city to take to help organizations, individuals and businesses reduce their carbon footprint in the six key areas:
The CAP also initiated on-going measurement of Boulder’s progress toward the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to seven percent below 1990 levels by 2012. And it acted as a springboard for the city to re-examine its energy source options through the Energy Future project initiated in 2010, based on an Energy Localization framework.
The Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan Trails Map is a comprehensive guide for existing and proposed trails and trail connections for the entire Boulder Valley. It shows proposed trails that have been planned through departmental master planning or area planning processes as well as trail connections that are important links in the Boulder Valley and regional trails systems.
Trails planning in the Boulder Valley involves balancing environmental, community and mobility goals as well as resolving or mitigating trail impacts. The following Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan policies guide trails planning:
The Trails Map shows existing and proposed trails in the Boulder Valley that are or will be administered by the city of Boulder Planning Department, Parks and Recreation Department, Open Space and Mountain Parks Department, Transportation Division, the Greenways Program and Boulder County Parks and Open Space and Transportation Departments. This map is used by the city, the county, Boulder Valley citizens and other concerned parties to understand, maintain and advance the network of trails that the city, the county, and other public agencies now provide and hope to provide in the future and should be used as a system planning tool.
Each department generates more detailed maps to meet their own needs and those of trails users. Other maps (such as those in departmental master plans or speciﬁc area plans) are used to show complete systems.
The Trails Map includes designated unpaved off-street paths, paved off-street paths, multi-use paths that are paved and separated from but parallel to a road, and short, paved off-street paths that connect to a larger trail or bike network and are part of an adopted pedestrian or bike system plan. It does not include sidewalks, on-street bike lanes or bike routes, paved road shoulders or low volume streets serving as bike lanes, routes, or internal walkways.
Trails planning and implementation occur at several steps that get progressively more detailed. The ﬁrst step is to identify a need or desire for a trail or trail connection, a step that usually occurs as part of departmental master plans. Interdepartmental coordination on trails and trail connections occur as part of the master planning process. Proposed trails may be further refined through other detailed planning processes, such as the Capital Improvements Program (CIP), Trail Study Area (TSA) or Community and Environmental Assessment Process (CEAP). Two kinds of trail designations are included on the Trail Map—conceptual trail alignments and proposed trails. The primary difference relates to the degree that the trail has been studied and whether or not a speciﬁc trail alignment has been worked out. Speciﬁc deﬁnitions include:
Conceptual Trail Alignments
These trails are represented by bubbles or circles on the Trails Map. These bubbles show the need or desire for the trail located in a conceptual trail corridor. The speciﬁc alignment has not yet been selected, often because there are still issues that need to be resolved. These issues may involve the need for further study or public process and usually require resolution of environmental, ownership, neighborhood, or other concerns. However, the concept for the trail is supported by the signatories of the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan.
These trails are represented by solid lines on the Trails Map. These lines show the trail need or desire, but they also show a more deﬁnite trail alignment accepted by the public entities involved. There may still be issues to be worked out at the project planning step, but the trail alignment is more certain.
Process for Changes to the Trails Map
At each mid-term or major update to the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan, an interdepartmental staff group will assess the need to update the Trails Map. If changes are warranted, staff will analyze the map and compile a list of recommended changes to be included in the Comprehensive Plan update process. Changes to the map may occur when there has been new information or changed circumstances regarding a proposed trail or when an alternatives analysis and public process have occurred at the master planning or area planning level and new trails plans have been adopted. Minor changes can be incorporated into the Trails Map at any time without board adoption. These minor map changes are limited to changes in factual information, which include map corrections and changes in designation from proposed to existing trails (i.e., built). These minor map changes will be identiﬁed for the boards at the Comprehensive Plan update process.
Any member of the public may propose changes to the Trails Map at a mid-term or major update to the Comprehensive Plan. These requests should be made in the application process established for the update. Staff will analyze these proposals and a recommendation will be presented to the four adopting bodies along with other applications. Changes to the Trails Map will be forwarded to the following advisory boards for review and comment: Open Space and Mountain Parks Board of Trustees, Greenways Advisory Committee, Transportation Advisory Board, Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, and the County Parks and Open Space Advisory Committee. Changes to the Trails Map may also be forwarded to other advisory boards depending on issues associated with a trail proposal. Recommendations and comments will be forwarded to the adopting bodies. Changes to the Trails Map must be adopted by the city Planning Board, City Council, the County Planning Commission, and the County Commissioners.
All recommendations for changes to the Trails Map will be evaluated by each of the departments involved. Agreement by affected departments on the suitability of the trail and trail alignment will be sought as part of the interdepartmental review.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 February 2013 12:55