What is the legal basis for this planning effort?

Short Answer: Municipalities in Colorado are authorized and encouraged by the state to create “Three-Mile Plans” and these plans are a requirement of the Municipal Annexation Act of 1965 (C.R.S. Sections 31-12-101 et. seq.) Generally, no annexations of new territory to a city or town may take place that would have the effect of extending a municipal boundary more than three miles in any one year.  As set forth in the Act, prior to the completion of an annexation within this three-mile boundary, each city or town is required to have a “plan in place” for these areas, which are commonly referred to as “Three Mile Plans”.   Rather than planning for a typical three mile radius around the Town of Lyons, the planning area that is the subject of these efforts is the Lyons Primary Planning Area (LPPA) – the boundaries of which were established in the Intergovernmental Agreement between Boulder County and the Town of Lyons in 2012.
Additionally, the impetus for the LPPA Master Plan effort stems from the 2010 Comprehensive Plan, which states:

This [plan] presents an opportunity to reexamine Lyons’ planning area and the land use map to determine where there is land available for development and what form it should take, to create strategies to spur economic development and to offer a new vision that incorporates new residents’ ideas and helps the community to arrive at a future of its own choosing.

Long Answer: The following information references a number of important legal documents that build upon each other to enable the creation of the LPPA Master Plan and to inform the process by which it will serve as a guide for future development and annexation.

Definitions of the three main documents that provide the foundation for this planning effort are as follows:

Local Government Comprehensive Plans
Cities and counties are authorized to prepare comprehensive plans as a long-range guiding document for a community to achieve their vision and goals.  The comprehensive plan (or master plan) provides the framework for regulatory tools like zoning, subdivision regulations, annexations, and other policies.  A comprehensive plan promotes the community's vision, goals, objectives, and policies; establishes a process for orderly growth and development; addresses both current and long-term needs; and, provides for a balance between the natural and built environment.  (see C.R.S. 30-28-106 and 31-23-206).

Three-Mile Plans
In 1987, the state legislature made changes to annexation law limiting municipal annexations to no more than three miles beyond the current municipal boundary in any given year.  Further, municipalities in Colorado are required to prepare and adopt a three-mile plan prior to annexing property into their territorial boundaries per C.R.S. 31-12-105 et. seq. The three-mile plan is a long-range plan that outlines where municipalities intend to annex property and describes how they will ensure the adequate provision of services within the newly annexed territory and the remainder of the existing municipality.

Intergovernmental Agreements (IGAs)
An IGA is any agreement that involves or is made between two or more governments in cooperation to solve problems of mutual concern.  Intergovernmental agreements can be made between or among a broad range of governmental or quasi-governmental entities, such as two or more counties, two or more municipalities, a municipality and a special district, and so forth. Governments use IGAs for cooperative planning, development review, resource sharing, joint planning commissions, building inspection services, and more. 

The following text was taken from the 2010 Town of Lyons Comprehensive Plan. It includes, first, citations explaining its foundation and purpose, followed by specific references regarding the community's intentions with regard to planning for development in the LPPA.

Legislative Basis for the Plan (p. 2)
Colorado Revised Statutes state, “it is the duty and responsibility of the planning commission to make and adopt a master plan for the physical development of the municipality, including any areas outside its boundaries (three mile area), subject to the approval of the governmental body having jurisdiction thereof, which in the commission’s judgment bears relation to the planning of such municipality (C.R.S. 31-23-206).” The statues further state, “the plan shall be made with the general purpose of guiding and accomplishing a coordinated, adjusted and harmonious development of the municipality and its environs which will, in accordance with present and future needs best promote health, safety, order, convenience, prosperity and general welfare (C.R.S. 31-23-207).” Colorado law establishes that a comprehensive plan is an advisory document to guide zoning and other land use decisions. The plan is implemented through the Town’s adopted land development regulations (CRS 31-23-206). Lyons’ Municipal Code, similar to land use codes throughout the state, requires that development proposals be reviewed in light of the comprehensive plan. A development proposal that is inconsistent with the plan requires a plan amendment before it may be approved.

Impetus for the Plan
Much has happened in Lyons since the 1998 Comprehensive Plan was adopted. The population has grown by approximately seventeen percent (275 people), there are several new events (Lyons Outdoor Games, Lyons Outdoor Market) and open lands and trails are beginning to put Lyons on the map as a regional destination. The Town also adopted, and has been implementing, a land use code, the Downtown Improvement Plan, and the Parks, Open Space and Trails Master Plan. There is a new focus on becoming a “greener,” more sustainable community and in strengthening Lyons’ economy. The Town’s Economic Development Council outlined the importance of incorporating the gateway areas in the Highway 36 corridor into the community plan. In addition, the Town has invested $11 million into infrastructure improvements to support a projected population of 3,000 people, while available land for development is becoming increasingly scarce. Several of the properties that had been designated for development in the 1998 Plan (including the 119-acre Olson property and the 39-acre Musser property) have been purchased by Boulder County and will remain open space in perpetuity. As a result, the Town is making a concerted effort to find a viable, consistent revenue stream that does not rely on new development. This update presents an opportunity to reexamine Lyons’ planning area and the land use map to determine where there is land available for development and what form it should take, to create strategies to spur economic development and to offer a new vision that incorporates new residents’ ideas and helps the community to arrive at a future of its own choosing.

What is the 2010 Lyons Planning Area Map? (p. 4)
The 2010 Lyons Planning Area Map presents a conceptual plan for the physical growth and development of the Town of Lyons and its surrounding area. This map is not a zoning document, nor does it mandate land use changes. Rather, it represents the community’s vision for how land should be used if the landowner is interested in developing his/her property. The goal of this map is to accommodate future growth and land use activities while minimizing land use conflicts and retaining the area’s quality of life.

Why is the 2010 Lyons Planning Area Larger than the 1998 Planning Area?
The 1998 Future Land Use Concept Map emphasized infill development because 307 acres of the 819 acres that were within Town limits (or 37.6% of the Town’s land area) had been zoned and in many cases platted for urban density residential development. These developments were projected to increase the Town’s population by 75% (the population at the time the 1998 Comprehensive Plan was written was 1,615; City-Data.com estimates that Lyons’ population in early 2010 was 2,035 - a 26% increase). The April 2008 Build-Out Analysis estimated that there were 155 undeveloped residential lots within Town limits and that these units will be absorbed into the market within five to ten years. It further predicted that the General Fund would be in deficit within three years after build out. As a result, the Town assembled an Economic Development Council (EDC) whose vision was, “By the end of 2008, the Town of Lyons will have laid the foundation to become economically and environmentally sustainable through the approval of the steps proposed herein [in the EDC’s Interim Report to the Board of Trustees] by the Board of Trustees and the implementation of those steps by year end 2010.” One of the EDC’s key recommendations was to expand the eastern end of the Town’s commercial zone to help strengthen its financial position. With this in mind, the PCDC closely examined the properties along the Eastern Highway 36 corridor considering existing land uses, property ownership, development potential, site constraints and public input and recommended expanding the corridor per the 2010 Lyons Planning Area Map.

What follows are references from the 2010 Comprehensive Plan pertaining to development in the LPPA.

(p. 7-8) LAND USE AND GROWTH GOAL: Ensure that the built environment contributes to Lyons’ identity and is consistent with the 2010 Lyons Planning Area Map and the Sustainable Design and Development Principles (Appendix D).

Land Use and Growth Objective 1.2: Establish the Town’s interest and legal standing in lands surrounding the Town (in the proposed Lyons Planning Area) to: develop a shared vision with our neighbors for future land use decisions, share resources and achieve common goals.


Land Use and Growth Strategy 1.2.1: Update the Intergovernmental Agreement with Boulder County to redefine Lyons’ Planning Area.


Land Use and Growth Strategy 1.2.2: Proactively engage with residents in the proposed Lyons Planning Area to develop a shared vision of future land use, services provision and planning issues.


Land Use and Growth Strategy 1.2.4: Work with Boulder County to: share and utilize Geographic Information System data and maps, consider revenue sharing and cooperate to achieve common goals such as regional trail construction, affordable housing, implementation of the Boulder County Sustainable Energy Plan, using healthy air, water and land management practices, etc.


Land Use and Growth Objective 1.3: Use land use planning tools (e.g., comprehensive plan, land use regulations) to help achieve a sustainable economy primarily through business and job growth.


Land Use and Growth Strategy 1.3.1: Define the means and the extent to which developers could create jobs and/or businesses along with residential development.


Land Use and Growth Strategy 1.3.2: Review and update annexation, zoning and subdivision regulations and fees to streamline the process and facilitate high quality residential and business development and support infill and redevelopment strategies that are consistent with the goals of this plan.


(p. 9) ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT GOAL 1: Create an environment in which local businesses can prosper.


Economic Development Objective 1.1: Create space for local businesses.


Economic Development Strategy 1.1.1: Renegotiate the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with Boulder County to include the expanded Lyons’ Planning Area (LPA) as set forth in this plan.


Economic Development Strategy 1.1.2: Inventory and analyze Town-owned real estate and real property to ensure the highest and best use.


Economic Development Strategy 1.1.4: Work with stakeholders to promote appropriate zoning of properties consistent with the 2010 Lyons Planning Area Map.


Economic Development Strategy 1.1.5: Coordinate with local landowners including the City of Longmont and developers to encourage the annexation and development of properties along the eastern Highway 36 corridor.


Economic Development Objective 1.2: Improve Lyons’ fiscal, regulatory and physical environment.


Economic Development Strategy 1.2.1: Evaluate the potential to use taxing districts and other tools to finance public improvements to benefit tourism and/or business development.


Economic Development Strategy 1.2.2: Explore the feasibility of using a Transferable Development Rights (TDR) program to ensure that there is a good balance among residential development, commercial uses and the development of jobs.


Economic Development Strategy 1.2.3: Maintain infrastructure to support existing businesses and develop infrastructure plans for new business growth.



(p. 18) HOUSING GOAL: Recognize and accommodate the housing needs of a diverse population.


Housing Objective 1.1: Promote safe, stable, diverse neighborhoods throughout Lyons that provide a range of housing options and link residents to destinations to learn, work, shop and recreate.


Housing Objective 1.2: Increase opportunities for affordable housing.


Housing Strategy 1.2.1: Investigate ways to make construction more affordable for owner builders.


Housing Strategy 1.2.2: Work with nonprofit partners such as Boulder County Housing and Human Services, Colorado Division of Housing, Habitat for Humanity, interested landowners and developers to explore opportunities to integrate affordable housing units into proposed development and redevelopment projects, including commercial and market-rate housing projects.


Housing Objective 1.3: Support the improvement of existing neighborhoods.


Housing Strategy 1.3.1: Continue to enforce the municipal code and sustain beautification efforts throughout Town.


Housing Strategy 1.3.2: Provide or promote the upgrade (as necessary) and maintenance of sidewalks and other public infrastructure as appropriate in residential areas and encourage homeowners and landlords to maintain their properties, preserve housing values and to promote walking and resident interaction.


(p. 20-21) PARKS OPEN SPACE TRAILS AND RECREATION (POSTR) GOAL 1.1: Balance the quality of life benefits that parks, trails and open lands contribute to the community with fiscal responsibility.


POSTR Strategy 1.1.4: Revise the development requirement that “all properties to be divided by a major subdivision process must dedicate fifteen percent (15%) of the total land area of the subdivision for parks, recreation facilities and open space” to ensure that the dedication does not present a net liability for the Town.


POSTR Strategy 1.1.7: Improve wayfinding and better integrate Lyons’ parks, trails and open lands into the Town’s branding and marketing efforts.


POSTR Strategy 1.1.8: Create a map of trails and key destinations in Lyons and the immediate surrounding area to help include Lyons’ parks, trails, and open lands into the Town’s marketing plan.

How Do We Use the Plan? (p. 25-27)
The Lyons Comprehensive Plan is comprised of a community vision and a series of elements with goals and strategies to implement the vision. Different groups and interests will utilize the plan in different ways.

Citizens and Business Owners: Use the plan as a guide for what to expect for future development in Lyons. The guiding principles articulate the community’s core values for the plan. The goals, objectives and strategies list actions that the Town will take in order to achieve its goals. Refer to the Implementation Plan in Appendix B for the Town’s current priorities and details on who will be responsible for implementing specific strategies. The 2010 Lyons Planning Area Map illustrates land use patterns (e.g., general locations for residential, commercial and industrial uses) within the Town limits and within the area surrounding the community that may ultimately form the Town limits, and for which the Town will eventually provide services.

Town Staff and Officials: Implementation of the Comprehensive Plan requires a commitment by the PCDC and Board of Trustees to use it to guide land use decisions. Each of the Town’s committees should use this document to develop their annual work plans. The PCDC should review the plan regularly (at least annually) to gauge the community’s progress in achieving its goals. Town Staff and officials should also use the plan to help:

  1. Collaborate with landowners to encourage development that is consistent with the 2010 Lyons Planning Area Map and the community’s vision.
  2. Ensure that all development applications meet the intent of the Comprehensive Plan and help to further the goals illustrated within the plan.
  3. Capitalize on the trends and opportunities in the Community Portrait (Appendix C) and as a benchmark to gauge the Town’s progress and change over time.
  4. Regularly update the Implementation Plan (Appendix B): identify what has been accomplished, what tasks still need to be completed and add new tasks (prioritize and identify who is responsible for completing each task).
  5. Guide annual budgeting and provide the basis for grant applications.
  6. Direct future growth (via the 2010 Lyons Planning Area Map) and help the Town plan for capital improvements.
  7. Provide the foundation for agreements with Boulder County, the St. Vrain Valley RE-1J School District and other governmental agencies.


Developers and Landowners: Demonstrate that project proposals meet the intent of the Lyons Comprehensive Plan in land use applications.

  1. Locate your property on the 2010 Lyons Planning Area Map and determine if your proposed use meets the future land use designation and whether it is within the community’s planning area.
  2. Acquaint yourself with the guiding principles and the goals set forth in each section of the plan. Demonstrate how your proposal is consistent with the Sustainable Design and Development Principles in Appendix D.
  3. Meet with the Town Clerk or Town Planner to discuss your project and how it relates to the Comprehensive Plan.

Update and Amendment Process
The Lyons Comprehensive Plan is intended to be a living document that will be flexible enough to incorporate change as the community evolves over time. The PCDC, in conjunction with the Board of Trustees and Town Staff should annually evaluate and update the plan in response to changes in the community. Citizens may also request changes to the Lyons Comprehensive Plan and should be engaged during any discussions to alter the plan. Both the written and graphic elements of the plan may be amended.

2010 Land Use Plan—Description of Land Uses
Note that the land between the Town Boundary line and the 2010 Lyons Planning Area is under Boulder County’s jurisdiction, but is historically considered part of the Lyons community. Following is a brief explanation of the proposed land uses that lie in the following areas:

Western Planning Area

  • The majority of this land is designated for Agriculture uses, because it is on the outskirts of Town and has large lots.
  • Much of Apple Valley is designated as Estate Residential, consistent with the existing land uses. Note that the Town already provides water service to some of these properties and it will become desirable to provide sewer to these residences as their septic systems age.
  • Stone Mountain Lodge is designated as a Commercial use, consistent with the existing land use.


Northern Planning Area

  • The majority of this area is designated as Agricultural, due to the area’s topography, the existing sandstone quarry that is integrated into one of the local ranches and Eagle Canyon residents’ desire to limit the net densities in the area to less than one unit per acre due to traffic concerns.
  • The eastern portion of this area is designated as Agricultural due to its steep slopes.


Eastern Planning Area

  • This land is designated as Employment Area, due to the urgent need for well-planned commercial development to provide employment opportunities and generate tax revenue that will see the Town through the current global economic crisis and sustain the Town’s unique character in the decades ahead.


Southern Planning Area

  • This land is designated as Agricultural, because it is on the outskirts of Town and has large lots. Lyons Park Estates is included in Lyons’ Planning Area based on requests from landowners in that area.


Community Insights (p. 40) 
While people who participated in the Comprehensive Plan process generally do not want to see a lot of growth in Lyons, they do support extending the Town boundaries and planning area, particularly along the eastern Highway 36 corridor. The majority may be ready to repeal the requirement of a citizen vote of approval for all private annexations greater than five acres. Following are some of the recommendations from the planning workshops:

  • Promote diverse housing by allowing more density near downtown;
  • Extend Lyons’ planning area to encompass the land between Town limits and Boulder County open space, since the Town provides some services to many of these areas already;
  • Encourage development in the eastern Highway 36 corridor that does not compete with downtown to help strengthen Lyons’ revenues and to improve the appearance of that area; and
  • Emphasize connections to the St. Vrain River and community destinations.


Opportunities, Challenges & Trends (p. 65)

Capitalize on the passionate citizenry and organizations in Lyons that promote eco-friendly programs and initiatives and a “green” lifestyle.

Continue to preserve and enhance wildlife habitat along the rivers and in the flood zones.

Partner with local volunteer and interest groups and government agencies to connect wildlife corridors and create habitat.

Continue to capitalize on the Town’s proximity to Boulder County’s 94,000 acres of designated open space with trail connections, etc.

Recycling of solid waste is time consuming and messy, but needs to be encouraged to reduce the impact on landfills.

Renowned Economist Richard Florida reported that environmental quality ranked as the most important amenity in high technology workers’ choice of location, above housing, cost of living and good schools.