Envision Littleton, the 2040 vision and plan, was a multi-year and multi-milestone commitment to planning for the next 20 years of the city. It was adopted on December 18, 2018 and manages change and growth amid the reality of a community that is largely already developed.
The Envision Littleton Comprehensive Plan guides future development, redevelopment, and community enhancement efforts over the next 20 years. It’s a framework for continued community discussion on the challenges currently facing the city, and opportunities that will shape its future. Through long-range planning efforts, Littleton can accommodate growth and revitalization in a way that preserves its history, culture, and overall quality of life.
Concurrently, the city also unanimously adopted its first Transportation Master Plan (TMP) as part of the Comprehensive Plan on October 15, 2019 along with a Future Land Use and Character Map. The TMP provides the city a better opportunity to partner with surrounding cities, not only for projects, but also for funding opportunities on the local and federal level.
The new TMP, in concert with the Comprehensive Plan, emphasizes the critical link between land use and an effective multi-modal transportation system. This is the first-ever plan of its type for Littleton and will equip the city with the ability to identify and review a complete network of transportation, including the city's roadways, two light rail stations, bus routes, bike lanes, sidewalks and trails.
In 2020-2021, the top priority identified in the Comprehensive Plan was to update the city’s regulatory framework and transition to a Unified Land Use Code (ULUC). Before the ULUC, the city had antiquated zoning which segregates land uses to certain parts of the city and hadn’t been updated holistically since the 1970s.
How did we get to this point?
In April 2018, the city began the process of truly engaging the community, building trust and relationships, and identifying the community's shared values. During 2018, we had conversations with over 3,000 people and received 870 survey responses. These combined ideas helped us pull together a draft vision and guiding principles for the next 10-20 years. October 2018 provided an opportunity for residents to “check our work” and ensure that Envision Littleton accurately captured and reflected the input received during the 12 intense weeks of summer engagement. By continuing the emphasis on key events in the city, the draft was seen by over 2,500 people. The community reviewed draft was the focus of the joint study session for City Council and Planning Commission on November 13. The Planning Commission recommended adoption at their December 10 meeting and City Council unanimously adopted the vision and guiding principles at their December 18 meeting.
In 2019, the city continued to build on the relationships and trust created to tackle the first major update of the Comprehensive Plan since 1989 and create a first-ever Transportation Master Plan. The Envision team developed five phases for the combined efforts to update our Comprehensive Plan and create a first-ever Transportation Master Plan. Each phase was completed on time and City Council during a public hearing on October 15, 2019 unanimously adopted the Envision Littleton Comprehensive Plan which includes the Future Land Use and Character Map as well as the Transportation Master Plan after a recommendation by Planning Commission at their October 14, 2019 public hearing.
Speaker Series 2019
The city hosted a four-part speaker series to kick-off Envision Littleton efforts in 2019 with the first on February 27, 2019.
Speaker Series #1 was a chance to compare and contrast key data points for the city with the greater region and state with expert Chris Akers, Economist for the State Demography Office. Attended by more than 80 community members the speaker series was designed to complement the robust community engagement that citizens have come to expect with Envision Littleton.
The most heartwarming moment of the night was a guest storyteller. Aubrey Weaver is a sophomore at Heritage High School and has spent "all 15 years of her life here in Littleton.” Aubrey’s story was accompanied by photos and memories from some of the most iconic Littleton events and gatherings. Weaver’s story was broadcast on Facebook Live and continues to be posted on the city’s Facebook page. Aubrey closed her remarks by adding, “I know where ever college or life may take me that Littleton will always be here with the same energy and good people that have always been here when I come back. I wouldn’t trade my memories of life here in Littleton for anything in the world."
Attendees also tested their knowledge of Littleton with a short quiz about key data that describes the people, environment, jobs, and transportation in Littleton. Kathleen Osher, Envision Littleton project manager administered the quiz and asked participants to vote using colored cards. This same trivia continued to be featured as part of Envision’s social media engagement over the next few months so that more people had the chance to test their knowledge of the latest trends in the city.
It is a standard best practice to start long-range planning with an overview of the community based on demographic, household, and employment information. This helps a city see the past and present to understand the changes taking place. And understand if there are any trends. In covering the big picture, Akers said that “if you think about it, Littleton is right in the heart of the growth we’ve seen in Colorado.”
This background information and forecasts for the future helped lay the groundwork for analyzing other information discovered through community engagement, expert analysis by our consultant teams, and work in partnership with our local and regional partners.
In April, Littleton hosted Speaker Series #2, featuring visiting expert Darin Atteberry, City Manager for the City of Fort Collins. Over 60 members of the community were in attendance.
Fort Collins, Colorado is one of only three municipalities in the United States to receive the Malcolm Baldrige presidential award for performance excellence. It was this performance excellence that was the focus of Mr. Atteberry’s presentation. Atteberry's first challenge to the crowd was to answer the question of what happens with your plans? He asked the attendees to consider if Littleton is the type of city that has a plan and builds that plan; has a plan and puts it on the shelf and doesn't build it; OR doesn't plan and just builds. He added, "One of the things that I want to make sure you leave with this morning is that Fort Collins deeply and fundamentally believes in planning; if you aren’t visioning and aligning resources and being very intentional and deliberate then you are going to get what you get; and we would say you are going to get average.
The Fort Collins City Manager went on to explain how the City delivers on world-class municipal services. Key to their success has been recognizing all of the amazing leadership that has existed throughout the history of the city. He describes the process as co-creating and collaboration. This requires Fort Collins to continually engage the community in the planning process, benchmarking results, and honoring the shared values and vision of the city. He added, "we needed to move away from trust us to let me show you (through data) that we are spending the appropriate amount on municipal services. In the end, one of the most important lessons for the City of Littleton was that “vision clarity is critical; without a vision, everything becomes a priority and in turn, nothing becomes a priority.”
Speaker Series #3 was held on May 22 and welcomed Bret Keast to further uncover the unique methodology of community character offered by the city's national consulting team, Kendig Keast Collaborative. This method of combining land-use and design elements will be central to how the city will continue to balance ushering in the future with honoring the legacy of Littleton’s leadership role in the Metro Region.
Bret C. Keast, AICP is the Owner and CEO of Kendig Keast Collaborative (KKC). During the presentation, Bret's passion came through about how KKC applies the core values of promoting good land stewardship, conserving resources, preserving and enhancing community character, safeguarding neighborhood integrity, and ensuring fiscal responsibility.
Speaker Series #4 hosted national thought leader and motivational speaker Peter Kageyama on Thursday, September 12. 160 registered for the free event and were challenged to begin a new love affair with the City of Littleton.
Peter Kageyama is the author of For the Love of Cities: The Love Affair Between People and Their Places and the follow up, Love Where You Live: Creating Emotionally Engaging Places. He is the former President of Creative Tampa Bay, a grassroots community change organization and the co-founder of the Creative Cities Summit, an interdisciplinary conference that brings citizens and practitioners together around the big idea of ‘the city.’
The focus of the evening was a series of bottom-up community initiatives that introduced fun and increased the love that people feel for their places. Kageyama encouraged participants to create a loveable city; "the kind that grabs you by the heart and refuses to let go.” The evening featured stories from across the country about co-creators that helped introduce more lively, fun, and loveable ideas into the life of their cities. Examples included, Peregrine Church, who at the age of 20, developed Rainworks to feature pieces of street art that only become visible when it rains in Seattle, WA. Kageyama also featured co-creators from Littleton such as Reinke brothers and Heather Greenwood of Graceful Community Café.
ULUC and Envision Studios
The Littleton City Council confirmed at its February 2, 2020 study session that the Unified Land Use Code (ULUC) was its top priority that year. The current city land use and zoning codes had created growth patterns that weren’t consistent with the Envision Littleton Vision and Comprehensive Plan adopted in 2019. The ULUC will consolidate the city’s regulatory documents, streamline procedures, and emphasize the quality of the built environment throughout the city. As part of the ULUC, the city hosted virtual webinars (Envision Studios) to gain input and guide the process. Envision Studio topics included discussions on the type, quality, and character of development along the corridors of Santa Fe, Broadway, Littleton Boulevard, and Belleview Avenue; an overview of how the ULUC will advance the 2040 Vision along the key corridors of Belleview, Littleton Boulevard, Broadway, and Santa Fe Drive; the future of neighborhoods as the city transitions to a Unified Land Use Code; a focus on neighborhoods and character based zoning with a new interactive map (picture below) where one could add their input; and Character Based Zoning Focus on Commercial Areas.
ULUC Public Draft
The next major milestone for Envision Littleton 2040 was the release of the Unified Land Use Code (ULUC) Public Draft for review. With the release of the draft, residents, businesses, and stakeholders were invited to check the ULUC staff team's work during a two-month public review and comment period of June 7 and July 30, 2021. The city utilized a video series on channel 8 and social media, Open Littleton surveys, 90 posters and yard signs displayed throughout the city, and paper surveys available at 22 locations. All of these efforts resulted in 584 comments added to enCode, the software the city is using for the ULUC. The outreach also resulted in other emailed comments and reviews from outside partner agencies. City council held study sessions August 17 and August 24, 2021 to discuss and further refine the final draft of the ULUC and staff continued to input final revisions.
ULUC Adoption and the End of Envision Littleton
On Monday, September 27, Planning Commission recommended adoption of the ULUC during its public hearing with four conditions. On September 20, 2021, the Historical Preservation Board (HPB) reviewed and recommended approval of the Historic Preservation Code contained within the ULUC with three minor conditions. Both recommendations were forwarded to the city council for consideration as they held their own public hearing October 19, 2021 regarding the adoption of the ULUC which was adopted unanimously.
Following codification of the new ordinance which goes into effect on October 28, 2021, the EnvisionLittleton.org website will be retired.