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We expect this plan to be used for three primary purposes.

  1. To review larger and discretionary land use applications for consistency with our overall land use vision in conjunction with the City Zoning Code and any of the City’s applicable topical or sub-area plans. See Chapter 8 for more important detail on how we expect this to work.
  2. As a guide for city initiatives pertaining to the physical development of the city, including but not limited to the following:
    1. Priorities and areas of focus for small area and topical plans of the City;
    2. Direction for changes to our Zoning and other sections of our City Code;
    3. A consideration in development of the capital improvement priorities of the City and region including proposals for new or extended voter initiatives such as Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority, TOPS and 2C (hyperlink these);
    4. Guidance for grant applications and community partnerships; and
    5. A source of input for our ongoing City Strategic Plan.
  3. To monitor and adapt where necessary to ensure that we are always making our city better.

Who Should Use This Plan

A wide range of users can find meaning in PlanCOS. Our residents and property owners, businesses and developers, and city staff, leaders, and partners all use the Comprehensive Plan to guide and realize the future success of our city.

  1. Residents and Property Owners: To document our values and vision for the future of Colorado Springs, in a way that allows them to participate as informed and active participants in the overall physical development of the city including in the decisions about land use that impact them most directly. 
  2. Businesses and Developers: To provide guidance on how to best achieve the community’s vision in ways that allow them to grow, adapt, and implement their development and business plans.
  3. City Staff: To work with applicants and stakeholders to review development proposals, and to provide decision-makers with information about how the proposals align with the intention, vision, and policies of the Plan. 
    1. To create and implement city initiatives including Code changes and process improvements that advance the goals and recommendations of this Plan.
    2. To work collaboratively with stakeholders on the more detailed plans and projects necessary to implement and achieve the goals of this Plan.
    3. To monitor and report on the implementation and success of the Plan through measurable indicators, and to respond and adapt to this information. 
  4. City Leaders: To position us for the future by establishing annual work plan priorities, developing partnerships, ensuring accountability of city departments, and making thoughtful and informed decisions in harmony with the goals of this Plan.
  5. Colorado Springs Utilities: To coordinate infrastructure planning with the City’s Strategic Plan, Comprehensive Plan, Annexation Policy, and other governmental agency plans.
  6. Other Partners: To ensure that we share a collective vision and leverage existing resources.

Elements of this Plan and how to Use Them

Chapters 2 through 7 provide much of the primary contents of our plan organized around our themes. Development applications and city initiatives should be evaluated using a hierarchy of applicability beginning with the themes, and then the goals, policies, and strategies. Each chapter has common elements. The text and contents of this Plan are also formatted to support navigation to the most applicable policy direction. The following is a description of what these are and how we expect them to be used. 

  1. Importance
    1. Each chapter begins with an introduction and description of the plan theme, focusing on the issues that the city faces. It describes why we believe each theme is important and it highlights a few of the key trends that particularly relate to them. This section sets up the context for the goals, policies, strategies, and essential questions found in the subsequent sections. 
  2. Typologies
    1. This section describes a set of typologies—or classifications of similar kinds of areas—related to the chapter’s plan theme. These typologies recognize different functions and desired patterns for areas of the city and provide a context for the City’s goals and policies. The typologies are a very unique and innovative approach to city planning, and are one of the cornerstones of our Plan. 
    2. They attempt to graphically represent the key elements of each theme in a way that applies them to different areas of the city depending on their context, conditions, and what characteristics we desire to encourage or discourage. This tailored approach provides a generalized but real world sense for how, where, and to what extent we want to “move the needle” with respect to a given theme in a given area. Defining common desired elements and expectations helps inform what makes it successful and what enhancements should be considered in the future. 
    3. Not all attributes are desired or applicable for all projects. Instead, this section outlines best practices, example areas and ideas that should be at, a minimum, actively considered. Typologies should be used as purposeful and important examples. At the same time they need to be understood as examples and should not be expected to be complete or universally applicable.
  3. Framework Maps
    1. Each of Chapters 2 through 7 has a Framework Map. These maps provide a spatial “framework” to help describe the typologies for each theme as they relate to the overall physical fabric of our city. These maps are intended to provide a general location for predominant typologies. These maps link elements and typologies spatially, allowing the reader to navigate to other important elements of this Plan, and to the more detailed plans that support it. These maps express important concepts and priorities for areas of our city, and are expected to be used. However, their boundaries, extents, and limits are purposefully generalized. These maps are advisory and not regulatory. However, they should be referenced prior to moving on to other components of the plan.
  4. Goals, Policies, and Strategies
    1. The goals and policies support and advance the PlanCOS vision. The goals identified in Chapters 2 through 7 encompass the Big Ideas of this Plan and are purposefully limited in number. They articulate a desired ideal and a value to be sought. The policy statements under each goal are outcome-based and guide decision-making. The supporting strategies are most specific and intended to provide examples of action-based implementation of the vision. They are not inclusive of all actions and options. 
    2. If a given theme is applicable, consideration would be expected to start with that and then move on to the most applicable goals, policies, and strategies. Individual statements should not be applied in isolation, in cases where additional context and balance is needed.
    3. Chapter 8 goes into more detail concerning the process of using this to review development applications in conjunction with Chapter 7 of the City Code.
  5. Essential Questions
    1. Chapters 2 through 7 each include essential questions. The intent of these questions is to provide an easy and consistent way to maintain a focus on and apply the key aspects of each vision to pertinent City-initiated decisions, such as Code changes, capital improvement planning, and programming priorities. Depending on the nature of the decision, the questions from one or more of the Chapters should be prioritized. Not all questions will be applicable to every decision and these questions are not intended to be directly applied as review criteria for privately initiated development applications.
  6. Indicators
    1. Indicators measure progress toward achieving the City’s vision and goals. They can facilitate prioritization of future actions, policy, and funding based on this evaluation and tracking. Indicators are meant to be reproducible, attainable, affordable, and quantifiable. This section includes only the most relevant indicators to the chapter. A full list with descriptions is found in Chapter 8. 
  7. Relationship to Relevant Plans
    1. For a city of the size and complexity of Colorado Springs, it is essential that we have and maintain many different plans. While PlanCOS establishes our overall context and vision for the physical development of our city, much of the real work needs to be in the form of specific topical or local plans. A key challenge with PlanCOS lies in how to integrate and balance it with all the other plans we have or develop. Of particular importance is understanding how this Plan relates with CSU’s Strategic and infrastructure plans and with privately initiated land use master plans. 
    2. Generally, PlanCOS should be viewed and used as “the first place to look” when considering decisions that have comprehensive planning considerations. From there, the expectation will be to tier off into more detailed plans. Appendix D helps describe this system of related plans. With these other plans, a very general rule of thumb is that the more current they are, the more they should be relied on, especially when balancing sometimes competing policy and priority directions. 
    3. Each of Chapters 2 through 7 has a section on relevant plans. These sections provide additional focus on the other plans or categories of plans most relevant for each theme, and on how they are expected to be used. 
    4. PlanCOS provides an opportunity to align the vision for the physical development of the city with its enterprises, one of those being CSU. The City Council convenes separately as the Board of Directors for CSU, and jointly with CSU’s Chief Executive Officer who is responsible for CSU’s strategic planning, governance policies, long-term organizational sustainability, performance, and its infrastructure planning. While PlanCOS recognizes the important distinctions in roles between CSU and the general city governance, it also envisions partnership, alignment, coordination, and complementary strategic planning in implementing the goals and strategies of PlanCOS.
    5. The balancing of PlanCOS with Privately Initiated Land Use Master Plans is particularly important. Generally, developers, property owners, and neighbors should expect to rely on these previously adopted land use plans as entitlements. This Plan is expected to be consulted when amendments of Privately Initiated Land Use Plans are being requested. PlanCOS and any other relevant city-initiated master plans should also be considered in the review of and action on, the more specific land use applications needed to implement these privately initiated plans.
  8. Definitions
    1. Words and how we use them are important. For this Plan we have particularly tried to define words and terms that can be have different interpretations or may be controversial. We have also defined words that have a special use in this document, along with those that are more technical in nature. All of these definitions are found in and hyperlinked in Appendix E: Glossary of Terms. Some definitions of special importance are also highlighted within the text. With some words, one really has to read into the relevant parts of this document in order to capture the full context their intended meaning.
    2. For words and terms not defined in this Plan, Chapter 7 of our City Code should be considered a source for words defined in it. For all other words, we expect to rely on a combination of recognized technical sources, the dictionary, common sense, and course, the overall context of this Plan. We have tried not to use too many acronyms, but those we do use are explained in under Acronyms at the front of the Plan.