Littleton City Council Meeting Minutes – 27 January 2009


Special Meeting

Littleton City Council

Tuesday January 27, 2009


  1. Study Session Topics

a)      Meeting with the Planning Commission


The Planning Commission (PC) has been working on the revision to the current Complan focusing on the Central Area (CA) which is roughly the downtown area.


David Metcalf said they started by deconstructing the current Complan and reexamined the map of the CA early in the process.  In the end he did not think the boundaries would change that much but they became aware of the importance of the surrounding suburban areas.


Julio Iterriera and Pavlos Stavropoulos have been meeting as a subcommittee to discuss their outreach program.  They have several ideas about ways to get the community’s input including surveys, an Open House, the City’s web site, and face to face interviews.  They realize that they can’t get real scientific data and the results will include some subjectivity.  What they will strive to do is conduct their outreach program in a very open way.


Norm Brown and Linda Knufinke have been working on identifying participants and divided them into two groups – visitors and occupants.


The PC is involved in creating a glossary so the language used will have a consistent meaning for everyone.


John Ostermiller reminded the PC that the stakeholders with the biggest voice are the property owners and he suggested that the property owners be sent a letter.


Peggy Cole suggested they include South Suburban.


Jose asked if the PC had considered what’s going to happen in the Transit Impact Zone (TIZ) – the area within ½ mile of the light rail station.  Iterriera said their goal is to look at the various zoning categories and start from scratch.  The current zoning areas have evolved and no longer work.  The CA needs revamping through the Complan.  The Transit Oriented District (TOD) is a big concern – it is right in the middle of our downtown area and TOD means compact development. We have another TIZ at Mineral so what we do in the CA effects the Mineral site too.  I might be on the other side of the fence than the rest of  the PC.


Jose said the TIZ really messed up things – it is another layer of bureaucracy on top of what we already have.


Julio is hoping that this becomes part of the discussion and he hopes to have arguments from both sides.


Jose suggested that they send letters to all that own property in the TIZ.


Pavlos said it was their goal to create a process to get more citizens involved.


Julio asked the Council what kind of feedback they were getting from citizens about the work that the PC has been doing.  Council has not had any.


Metcalf said they are trying to identify lightening rod issues by asking very specific questions and they are trying to get away from the platitudes in the Complan.


Jim Taylor asked if the cutesy things would be removed and Metcalf said he hoped so.  If the statements do not have substance then they don’t do any good.


Debbie Brinkman said she has been watching the PC meetings and they are hard to follow.  Their task is not simple but it needs to be simple.  How are you going to get the details culled down for an average citizen – and I include myself in that category – to understand enough to give you useful responses?


Taylor said they all understood that Littleton is a first tier suburb and the Complan has to be focused on redevelopment.


Metcalf said redevelopment and preservation.  People do not want to see their neighborhoods redeveloped.


Brown said they had included a section on Historic Preservation that was not included in the last Complan.


Doug Clark said some aspects of the old Complan have been dropped. An example – the small town character.  Littleton used to have a wide diversity of businesses in the downtown area – that is what I think of when I say small town character.  We are moving toward a homogenization of the downtown.  The Main Street Grill was torn down and redeveloped to look like the existing buildings.  You need to ferret out these issues – ask the public if they want something that looks like Gaylord.


Another example – downtown as a major activity center where social events take place – I see this in conflict with the Main Street concept for Littleton Village.


Goal 6 – Encourage and accommodate the private rehab of older residential and commercial structures.  We have a bunch of single family homes in the CA  – does it mean that they should be replaced with condos and mixed use? 


You need to point out to people how things might change with certain statements.


Metcalf said they do have to provoke conversation.


Brown said they have discussed a visual survey which speaks to Clark’s concern.


Cole said they needed to go beyond the identified stakeholders – do we have good pedestrian and bicycle ways.


Pavlos said there has to be a consideration of balance.  Do we want to encourage residents when we don’t have a grocery store in the area; pedestrian traffic when there is no dentist within walking distrance.  The Complan will invite and discourage different types of development.  We need to produce a document that is simple but not simplistic.


Metcalf said we are not an urban area and until we are at a critical mass the retail will not stay open.  It took some real arm twisting to get merchants to stay open for a 1st Friday.  It started with 14 and has dwindled since.  Is short term parking better for the merchants than harmful for the restaurants and Town Hall.  How do we keep the small town feel and stimulate downtown?


Mulvey asked about the survey saying that they have spent $5,000 on surveys in the past that were useless.


Pavlos said the survey will be just one of the tools they will use and it is difficult to know if it will be worthwhile.


Metcalf said there are two significant questions about the current Complan. 

  1. Why hasn’t it been followed more faithfully?
  2. What is the likelihood that Council will take up actions in the Complan?


Clark discouraged the PC from putting action items in the Complan because the likelihood of getting them done is slim.


Ostermiller thought there should be some vision statements in the Complan – what do we want between Santa Fe Drive and the river?


Norm had a question on the small town character – the current Complan doesn’t lead us to salons and spas but they have moved in.  Do we try to write in eclectic or Starbucks?


Clark said they needed to ask the public.


Pavlos asked to what degree they should incorporate “green” terms – what does Council want.


Clark said sustainability becomes implementation which involves building codes and is implemented through other codes.

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