Cirque Meadows by Adam Johnson

County Master Plan

Executive Summary

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The Larimer County Master Plan is a policy document that establishes a long-range framework for decision making for the unincorporated area of the County. It includes criteria for development decisions, decisions on public services and capital facilities and decisions on environmental resources protection through its Guiding Principles and Implementing Strategies.

The Master Plan is also intended to be a living document. Implementation will be monitored and the Plan reviewed periodically and amended as necessary, to reflect changed conditions and current values.

The Master Plan applies to all Larimer County land located outside city and town boundaries, except for the Estes Valley which is part of a separate County/Town planning process. The Master Plan Location Map shows Larimer County, city and town boundaries and the Estes Valley Plan Area.

The Master Plan outlines a Growth Management system with four components. Key concepts are printed in bold to highlight the major elements of the Master Plan.

Consistency: The Land Use Code and other implementation documents will be consistent with the Master Plan. In the past, County plans and regulations have often not been "in sync." The Master Plan includes strategies to be included in the new Land Use Code to implement Plan Principles. Consistency will not require changes in zoning. Rather, performance standards and innovative development patterns like the Rural Land Development Process and Rural Conservation Development (a clustered subdivision) will be used to implement the Plan. Evaluation and monitoring of the implementation process will support achievement of Plan Principles. Annual review by the Planning Commission will enact changes to keep planning current and proactive.
Larimer County

Concurrency: An Adequate Public Facilities regulation will be developed to ensure that facilities and services are available to new development, without compromising existing service levels and burdening existing residents with the costs of growth. Adequate levels of service for essential facilities will be clearly defined in the Land Use Code, based on Plan Principles. Capital improvement programming to maintain and upgrade existing services and a revised system of capital expansion fees applied to new development will provide funding.

Cooperation: Intergovernmental Agreements with cities and towns will provide the framework for future urban land use. The Plan provides a hierarchy of the city/County planning areas to facilitate a regional approach to planning through agreements with the municipalities of the County. Growth Management Areas will define future urban areas based on a community plan. New urban zoning will be allowed only in defined urban areas where services are available. Cooperative Planning Areas allow for special study beyond current projected urban land use needs, where land use decisions now can impact present and future city growth patterns. These areas will also allow for joint planning of areas for community separation. Community Influence Areas describe areas where coordination with the County development review process is desired by cities and towns.

Rural Scene in Larimer County

Compatibility: New development will be compatible with natural systems and existing uses through environmental review and performance standards incorporated into the development review process. Information on wetlands, wildlife habitat and other sensitive environmental areas will be included throughout the development design process. Required clustering of new subdivisions creating up to 80 percent open space (depending on existing zoning) will allow room for both new rural residential areas and maintenance of agriculture and natural areas. Performance standards will help quantify buffer areas to maintain compatibility.

To implement the Master Plan, several actions are required. These include adopting a unified Land Use Code, capital expansion fees and revisions to Intergovernmental Agreements with cities and towns in the County. Throughout the implementation process, citizen participation will play a key role. The Master Plan Implementation process is described in Chapter 7, including an Action Plan for the next several years.

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Background Image: Cirque Meadows by Adam Johnson. All rights reserved.