County growing older |

County growing older

SUMMIT COUNTY – In 2025, Summit County will be a lot older.

According to county planners’ projections, in the next two decades the median age in the county will jump from the 30.8 years documented in 2000 to nearly 43 years.

The Colorado Department of Local Affairs’ Demography Section recently updated Summit County’s population statistics for the year 2000 and growth projections through 2025, adding 2,020 permanent residents to the millennium count.

The projections were outlined in a memo Summit County Senior Planner John Roberts sent to other department officials May 20 announcing a revision in the county’s 2000 population count.

“The new population count reflects a challenge to the Census Bureau,” Roberts wrote. “It is anticipated the Census Bureau will change our 2000 permanent population to reflect this within the next couple months. This is promising news and should be a boon to federal, state and (other) types of grant funding.”

The official change comes as planners continue to grapple with a shifting Summit County population landscape. Throughout the 1990s, the annual average growth in the county was 7.2 percent. In that decade, the county nearly doubled its permanent population, from 12,881 to the newly revised figure of 25,700.

Projections for the next 20 years, however, point to a significantly curtailed growth at an estimated 2.1 percent annually. Additionally, those projections call attention to the changing terms of land use and the personal needs of the county residents.

In 2002, Summit County was approximately 71 percent built out, with 25 percent of the county’s total residential capacity being absorbed in the previous 10 years. Current trends call for maximum build-out to be reached within just 10 years, barring any zoning changes that allow for increased density.

That date may come even sooner, though, as planners expect to reach build-out as soon as only 90 percent of residential property has been consumed, given various qualifying factors such as residents who leave substantial portions of privately owned land permanently undeveloped.

In either case, build-out is pending. And the land-use issues accompanying this fact tie in directly to the types of services and facilities county residents will require – or at least desire.

“Do we have the types of facilities that are going to accommodate the type of people that are going to be living here in 10-15 years?” Roberts asked.

With an aging population, Roberts said, second homes may become permanent homes as baby boomers start to wrap up their careers.

“This is going to be an example of a community that they retire to or choose to live in,” he said.

To that end, Roberts pointed to the need for a hospital and improved health-care facilities for such residents, while, at the same time, indicating less noticeable but equally essential consumers of land such as storage yards for heavy equipment.

“If you don’t have adequate areas to accommodate those, how do you meet the demands of the community in terms of construction?” he noted.

Roberts said the county is establishing policies to address these issues, primarily through the ongoing development of a countywide master plan, and it is looking for ways to maximize county resources.

“A lot of what we can do is based on land use,” he said. “We try and incorporate this idea of sustainability in our master plan usage.”

Aidan Leonard can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at

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