Evergreen Technical Advisory Panel
In March of 2019, Jefferson County Planning & Zoning and Greater Downtown Evergreen Economic District’s (DEED) applied to the Colorado District Council of the Urban Land Institute (ULI Colorado) and the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) to conduct a Technical Advisory Panel (TAP) in the downtown Evergreen area. After notification in April that the project was selected, planning began for the process to occur in September of 2019. The TAP consisted of seven (7) land use professionals who provided guidance on zoning, transportation, resilience, and fiscal solutions for downtown Evergreen.
Downtown Evergreen was chosen for this specialized review because is one of a handful of main street downtowns in unincorporated Jefferson County. It was built before zoning and when zoning was enacted, it did not reflect the existing buildings or character of the area. The County has also enacted parking standards that heavily favor on-site parking, which is difficult in this area due to small lots and steep topography. Like many historic downtown areas, the buildings were built on flatter areas near water, which today translates to floodplains. There are many County and Federal regulations related to floodplains that are in place to protect lives and properties, but in areas that are already built, these are seen as overly-restrictive barriers to development. Recently, there have been some proposals for retrofitting existing buildings to allow additional uses, such as residential above retail or office. These uses are supported by the Comprehensive Master Plan, but the hurdles of parking, connectivity, and floodplains are difficult to maneuver. The County would like to foster the historic character of the Downtown Evergreen Area, but currently the zoning, parking and floodplain are the biggest hinderances to redevelopment proposals in the area. Additionally, there is not currently a funding mechanism in place for the local community to put improvements into place. Jefferson County and DEED formed specific questions for the TAP to address and provide guidance on these issues.
- Would a form-based code be the best way to address the discrepancy between the existing Downtown Evergreen main street and the current commercial zoning? If not, what would a better zoning solution be? If so, what are the elements of a form-based code that would most effectively address the issues in the Downtown Evergreen Area and are there other tools that we should use in conjunction with a form-based code?
- How can the County and DEED create a revised road template for State Highway 74 that addresses vehicle trips, pedestrian walkability and maintaining the historic character of the area? Will CDOT continue to allow on-street parking along State Highway 74?
- Would a Local Improvement District foster additional development in this area? Or would the additional taxes be a hindrance to development?
- What items could be addressed in a resiliency plan for emergency situations if rebuilding the downtown area would be necessary due to a natural disaster, such as a flood or wildfire?
On September 12 and 13, 2019, the TAP panelists convened in Evergreen for an intense two-day process. They interviewed key stakeholders in the Downtown Evergreen Area and sequestered themselves to figure out answers to the above questions. On the afternoon of September 13, the panelists gave a presentation of recommendations to the County, DEED, stakeholders and any other members of the public that were interested. The presentation was recorded and is available below.