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The Setting

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The towns of Windsor and Severance are located in the Front Range of Colorado (between Denver, CO, 60 miles to the south and Cheyenne, WY, 50 miles to the north). The Town of Windsor is situated in both Weld County and Larimer County and the 2008 estimated population was just over 19,000, nearly double the town's population in 2000. The projected population in 2025 is over 35,000. The Town of Severance is in Weld County and has a population of 3,200.

The towns of Windsor and Severance established a Cooperative Planning Area (CPA) to address land use and transportation issues in the undeveloped expanses between the towns along Colorado State Highway 392. The CPA is a technique used to address growth and commercial development pressures and the resulting demand for municipal services in areas located immediately beyond the jurisdictional boundaries of the towns. Neither Windsor nor Severance had development standards in place to address the commercial development in the 392 corridor that will impact the present and future nature and quality of development for both municipalities.

The Project

The CPA was established by an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) between the towns of Windsor and Severance in December 2000. Through the IGA the CPA "will enhance the ability of the two municipalities to achieve their respective and common goals". In general IGAs are negotiated agreements to jointly determine and acknowledge the jurisdictional interests of each party. Such agreements are particularly useful for unincorporated areas, such as the Colorado State Highway 392 corridor, and help ensure cooperation regarding these areas. Within 12 months of adoption of the IGA, Windsor and Severance were required to develop and implement a Comprehensive Development Plan, known as the Corridor Development Plan, for the development of land and provision of urban services and facilities within the CPA. The IGA established a revenue sharing agreement for future revenue generated within the CPA: all sales, use and property tax revenues collected by each of the municipalities within the CPA shall be shared and distributed between the municipalities, two-thirds to the collecting municipality and one-third to the other municipality. To ensure corridor development proposals meet planning and design guidelines, the IGA included a provision to adopt Windsor's East Main Street Corridor Plan guidelines as applicable to the commercial corridor area of the CPA. The IGA also coordinates the development of future water and sewer service for the CPA.

Figure 1 - Cooperative Planning Area

Cooperative Planning Area

The IGA was presented to the board of trustees of both municipalities for adoption by resolution, following notice and public hearing. The IGA was effective upon its adoption by both municipalities in December 2000 and is to remain in effect in perpetuity.

An amendment to the IGA was adopted in January 2004 and included the provisions of the Comprehensive Development Plan. This amendment also stipulated that the same design and performance standards for the Colorado State Highway 392 corridor also be applicable to the portion of Weld County Road 23 which is located within the CPA.

The CPA is a corridor defined as one-quarter mile north and south of Colorado State Highway 392, bound on the west by Colorado State Highway 257/Weld County Road 19, and on the east by Weld County Road 23. Colorado State Highway 392 is the eastern gateway into Windsor and the southern gateway into Severance and forms a natural boundary between the present and future growth areas of Windsor and Severance (see Figure 1).

The Process

The statutes of the State of Colorado, specifically the Local Government Land Use Enabling Act, authorizes Windsor and Severance to enter into a mutually binding and enforceable agreement regarding the joint exercise of planning, zoning and related powers. The original IGA that established the CPA took one year to develop. The subsequent amendment to the IGA took 6 months to develop. The level of resource and funding used by Windsor to establish the CPA was mostly staff time to attend meetings, open houses, planning commission hearings and town board (council) hearings.

Lessons Learned

During the development of the CPA, the municipalities started with a vision to have only upscale commercial developments occur within the CPA. The public outreach included public open houses, hearings and meetings to solicit feedback on what residents and leaders in both municipalities were trying to accomplish. As a result of establishing the CPA, undesirable commercial developments along Colorado State Highway 392 have not been approved by either municipality.

Trying this at Home

The towns of Windsor and Severance established the IGA to benefit both municipalities by coordinating on the types of land uses and development standards that are allowed within the CPA. When developing the CPA the adjoining property owners and general public must be involved early and often in the process. The adoption of the CPA should not go forward until there is buy-in or consensus from these constituents.

Joe Plummer, Director of Planning, Town of Windsor
Phone: (970) 674-2436

Photo credits:

  • Town of Windsor, Colorado