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 September 1, 1999

Metro Vision 2020 hopes to reign in urban growth

The metro area is expected to grow by about 1 million people by the year 2020, driving the region’s population to more than 3 million people. How we manage and plan for that growth now will determine how livable our community will be in the future.

The Denver Regional Council of Governments, working with its 48 local government members, developers, environmentalists and others, developed Metro Vision 2020, the region’s long-term plan for growth. The plan addresses the issues we all care about: regional quality-of-life issues including transportation, air and water quality, the region’s development, and building communities we can live, work and play in.

One of Metro Vision’s six core tenets is to hold the metro area to 731 square miles or less of developed land by the year 2020, an ambitious and time-intensive effort, given that when the council of governments started, local governments’ comprehensive plans saw the region expand to more than 1,100 square miles in the same time frame. DRCOG worked with cities and counties in the region to develop the goal and a map of where development should occur.

The map, like Metro Vision, is flexible. Communities have the freedom to change target areas of growth, while still adhering to the overall goal of 731 square miles of urbanized area.

Since the Urban Growth Boundary was adopted unanimously by DRCOG’s Board of Directors in 1997, 13 communities have passed resolutions of support for the boundary, and four communities passed ordinances incorporating the boundary into their local planning process. All said, the effort of these communities to integrate the boundary into their planning processes covers about 82 percent of the region’s population.

The City of Boulder has adopted a resolution of support. Other communities within Boulder County are considering it. The Boulder Valley comprehensive plan is an example of a local plan containing an urban growth boundary. The city and the county used this plan to guide growth for many years. Longmont spent much of 1998 considering the best way to incorporate the DRCOG goal into the city’s plans and is about to adopt a monitoring process rather than a map, but still meeting the Metro Vision goal.

The Urban Growth Boundary is a relatively new planning tool for communities all over the country. It first appeared in the early- to mid-’70s, and has become a growing trend in metropolitan areas, with states such as Oregon requiring that growing areas develop boundaries to which communities must adhere.

The council is choosing to approach growth issues through collaboration and by offering incentives for communities to adhere to the boundary. In the past year, for example, the DRCOG Board of Directors adopted new policies that reward communities with increased consideration for transportation funding if they have either adopted resolutions of support for the boundary or included it in their comprehensive plans. In short, DRCOG is making progress on implementing the boundary, ensuring the region’s quality of life.

Examination and debate within a community over how it will grow is healthy. I urge everyone to get involved within their community, within our region, to look at how we can change our community for the better. We can all contribute. Please, get involved.

For information about Metro Vision 2020, call the DRCOG Public Affairs Office at (303) 455-1000.

Polly Page is the DRCOG chairman and Arapahoe County commissioner.

The metro area is expected to grow by about 1 million people by the year 2020, driving the region’s population to more than 3 million people. How we manage and plan for that growth now will determine how livable our community will be in the future.

The Denver Regional Council of Governments, working with its 48 local government members, developers, environmentalists and others, developed Metro Vision 2020, the region’s long-term plan for growth. The plan addresses the issues we all care about: regional quality-of-life issues including transportation, air and water quality, the region’s development, and building…

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