After more than a month of public meetings and weeks working with local consultants, the Silverthorne Town Council on Wednesday, May 28, approved the latest update of the town’s comprehensive plan.
Updated every five to seven years, the comprehensive plan serves as a guiding document for future physical development of the community. The 2014 revision features updated policies about land use, community design, transportation, economic development and growth.
“The story here is the progress we are making with creating a vibrant downtown,” said town manager Ryan Hyland. “We’ve been talking a lot about a downtown for several years, so it’s not a new and novel concept, but now we have the tools to start making this happen.”
The game changer this year, unlike in years past, is that Silverthorne has created an urban renewal authority, in addition to recently developing and approving a tax increment financing, or TIF, program. The TIF program allows property tax revenue generated by a new development to be funneled directly back into the property, providing additional financing to fill in potential gaps that may delay the project’s completion.
The new plan also features a proposal to create an entertainment area with public plaza space on land the town owns just north of the Silverthorne Pavilion. In addition, the plan includes another proposal to replace the bridge next to the Silverthorne Pavilion with a new structure that would be wide enough to host community events above the Blue River. The existing bridge would move north to provide another place to cross the river, Hyland said.
But first on the town’s priority list is starting a dialogue with the Colorado Department of Transportation about narrowing the right-of-way to improve walkability and create a “sense of place” for residents and businesses on Silverthorne’s main thoroughfare, Colorado Highway 9.
“Look at The Mint as an example,” Hyland said. “It’s so far off the roadway there’s really no sense of place. In going through this process we kept coming back to Steamboat as an example of a town that, like us, has a highway going through it, but also has on-street parking and is very pedestrian friendly. That’s kind of the vision we’re working towards.”
After speaking with CDOT, Hyland said the next step would be reaching out to property owners along Highway 9 to develop partnerships to begin to move toward making a downtown Silverthorne a reality.
The process to update the comprehensive plan began in March when the town hosted four community chats, a workshop and an open house.
The town also conducted 18 stakeholder interviews and invited residents who could not attend the community meetings to submit comments and ideas through the “Engage Silverthorne” online forum.
Silverthorne Mayor Bruce Butler said in a news release the new plan moves away from brainstorming ideas about what Silverthorne wants to be to drafting plans to make that vision a reality.
“Communities are about people,” Butler said in the release. “In that sense, Silverthorne already has an incredibly vibrant and successful community, but what the new comprehensive plan addresses is the opportunity to foster a built environment of public and private buildings and spaces that are reflective of the great community that already exists here.
“It’s a plan that we hope answers some of those questions that were at the forefront of every public meeting, including ‘How do projects get built?’ and ‘How does the town plan to prioritize projects?’”
The 2014 comprehensive plan can be found in its entirety online by clicking the “Key Town Documents” tab at www.silverthorne.org.