Land-use plan approved Monday

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Last updated in 2004, the changes in the new version of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan, CLUP, were approved Monday after a unanimous vote by Westminster City Council. The CLUP will integrate all aspects of physical planning into one cohesive document with direction for land use, parks and open space, community design, economic development, infrastructure and resource management.

“I’m really excited about the plan. I think it moves us forward and gives us a bright future,” Mayor Pro Tem Faith Winter said. “The plan provides us an opportunity for our home grown businesses to expand and gives opportunities to expand our art district.”

Mac Cummins, planning manager, said by expanding the plan, the city now has an innovative way to focus the planning for the city for the next 20 years and allows the city to take a strategic look at how that planning will happen. He added that although there are land designation changes, no zoning changes are proposed in the plan.

The approved plan introduces seven new land designations including: R-36 Residential, Mixed Use, Mixed Use Center, Service Commercial, Office/Research and Development High Intensity, Office/Research and Development Low Intensity and Flex/Light Industrial. Along with the new additions, were three land designations retired from the plan in order to provide more refined land uses: District Center, Business Park and Office/Residential.

“These changes and additions reflect the city’s desire to accommodate mixed-use development typologies and to better articulate a vision for key future development areas,” Sarah Nurmela, senior urban designer and planner for the city said. “The Comprehensive Land Use Plan provides direction for land use and all types of physical planning for the city and helps us determine how and where to plan for open space community services, transportation utilities and many other things. It also helps us to manage resources and ensure that we have resources as we continue to grow and expand.”

Nurmela said there are also several sites in the city with changes to their previous land use designations. Of those sites in particular, one drew a lot of attention from community members: the Harris District along 73rd Avenue south to 72nd Avenue and between the rail tracks and Lowell Boulevard. The approved plan changed the land use designation to Traditional Mixed Use Neighborhood Development, TMUND, from retail commercial with the intent to permit and foster walkable, neighborhood-oriented mixed-use development.

During a neighborhood meeting on Oct. 21 many south Westminster residents had issues with the change due to the fear of major changes in the neighborhood. Resident Carol Cooper said she worries about keeping the integrity of south Westminster if too many changes are made. Comments opposing the plan were also made public during the planning commission meeting on Oct. 22 by residents including Dino Valente, Adams County School District 50 board member and owner of Valente’s Deli and Bakery at 72nd Avenue and Meade Street.

“This is being done very quickly and there are still a lot of questions,” he said. “What’s the rush?”

Because of the backlash, the planning commission recommended to council to approve the plan, but to add wording in the plan to limit or prohibit some uses in the TMUND area and expand the wording of affordable housing to all parts of the plan, not just in parts that discuss south Westminster. Council agreed with the recommendation and amended the plan to include the changes upon approval.

“The new land designations are an improvement to the plan,” said councilor Herb Atchison. “The new plan gives more opportunities for new development and also redevelopment.”

To view the complete Comprehensive Land Use Plan, visit www.ci.westminster.co.us.

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