Breckenridge approves vision plan |

Breckenridge approves vision plan

Jane Stebbins

BRECKENRIDGE – The Breckenridge Town Council Tuesday adopted the town’s new vision plan, crafted after months of input from the public and word-crafting by consultants.

Vision plans are developed by communities to describe the direction it wants the town to take – and how to get there over the years. Consultants held three workshops and conducted surveys last winter to determine what citizens in the Upper Blue Valley like best – and least – about their community.

According to the consulting team – RNL Design, RRC Associates, Winter and Co. and the TSR Group – a vision plan establishes a framework for ideas and provides context for town officials when they are considering planning policies, funding and rationale for plan approval.

“I think it’s an excellent guiding document for us as we look out in the future,” Councilmember Dave Hinton said. “There weren’t any surprises other than we kept our hands off it, so it really was a citizens’ effort.”

The survey asked citizens how effectively they felt the town addressed current issues; that information was used to determine what social, economic and environmental assets are appreciated most.

“The citizens seem to indicate the direction town is going in is the direction they want to go in,” said Jeff Hunt, assistant director of community development for the town. “A lot of communities hold a vision planning process, and the citizens say “You were off track.’ That wasn’t the case with us.”

At one of the town meetings, participants were asked to assume the year was 2022 and fill out a postcard describing the town. In another, citizens were asked to develop and identify the scenarios of the future; 62 percent said they want Breckenridge to be a “small town that expands, with a resort that remains competitive and has an emphasis on community.”

Other alternatives included “small mountain town that includes a ski area,” “emphasis is on developing and enhancing a competitive resort” and “major regional service center.”

Throughout the process, citizens repeatedly emphasized the importance of people who live in the valley, preserving the historic, environmental and cultural assets and maintaining economic viability.

The vision statement outlines 10 values citizens want to retain in the next 20 years. Among them are community character – the historic mountain town offering a safe, friendly and peaceful atmosphere – economic viability, natural and cultural resources, transportation, diverse and affordable housing and community participation to improve the quality of life for all.

“Referring back to the plan will be the key,” Hinton said. “We have to ask, “How does that fit in with the vision plan?’ When you do that, it’s amazing how you can distill things into the proper perspective. It’s nice to have it to lean on, too.”

“In terms of a broad, general guideline, the vision plan process was very successful, mostly because we had so much citizen input through different avenues,” Hunt said. “The consensus seems to be there. Another example is the number of citizens who came out to put their time and energy into this. So often, you don’t get a lot of citizen input on long-range planning until someone comes in with a site-specific plan.”

Action plans are outlined in the vision plan to help town officials reach the goals outlined by the citizens. Most involve revising existing planning documentation and supporting other efforts to reflect those goals.

Town officials now will begin to update the town’s master plan, which hasn’t been updated since 1983. Hunt said it’s needed.

“For example, in the 1983 master plan, it doesn’t discuss affordable housing,” he said. “It wasn’t an issue back then. And there were several values that rose to the top in the vision plan that are lacking in the master plan of 1983.”

After the master plan is updated, development codes and policies will be addressed, Hunt said.

“It’ll be interesting to see how we balance between these competing values, like community character, economic vitality and natural resources,” he said. “It’s easier to achieve consensus regarding broad aspirational value statements, but it becomes more difficult when dealing with definitive code requirements. The next steps will present some challenges.”

Town officials are all too familiar with balancing competing values, Hunt noted.

In the past year, town councilmembers have weighed the benefits and drawbacks of “animating” Main Street by allowing entertainment, vendors and outdoor displays of merchandise.

More recently, they’ve been working on the issue of short-term rental units and the problems that sometimes arise with renters.

“They both provide for economic vitality,” Hunt said. “But at the same time, they can impact community character.”

Jane Stebbins can be reached

at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or

Values Statement:

Breckenridge is a strong, small community that cares about:

-maintaining and improving the health and integrity of the natural environment;

-preserving and enhancing its heritage as a small town;

– promoting a diverse population of year-round and seasonal residents and visitors who are committed to the community;

-ensuring individual choice and freedom of expression;

-developing a sustainable economy; and

-providing a welcoming, friendly, vibrant, hometown atmosphere.

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