Article

Aurora's New Comprehensive Plan: Vision, Values, Policy & Placemaking

by Daniel Krzyzanowski, AICP - Principal Planner, City of Aurora

The Aurora Places Comprehensive Plan, adopted unanimously by City Council in Fall 2018, articulates and illustrates Aurora’s vision and values for future growth and development and establishes policies and practices to realize that desired future.

Aurora Places is built around community-supported vision and principles and offers a strong policy base for decision-makers and others. Traditional planning topics, like land use, transportation, parks and open space, and infrastructure are addressed thoroughly. Economic development is broadly defined and addressed throughout the plan, through the development of placetypes and specific policies and action strategies.

By using traditional, innovative, and online methods, the project team was able to execute a broad and inclusive public engagement campaign. The project team conducted a variety of interactive public meetings and focus groups, but also deployed a “do-it-yourself” meeting kit and trained a “local outreach team” of community volunteers that empowered stakeholders to conduct workshops with diverse groups in the settings and languages of their choice. Community input was conducted in at least 6 languages in over 80 staff-led, 55 volunteer-led meetings, and 5 online survey or activities, extending the reach of using city staff alone, reaching an unprecedented breadth and diversity of Aurora stakeholders.

The result of multiple rounds of public input was seven guiding community principles: a strong economy; a diverse and equitable city; housing for all; a healthy community; a thriving environment; easy mobility and active transportation; and an authentic Aurora. These principles shape all parts of the plan and are fully integrated throughout the physical planning, policies, and recommended implementation actions.

The plan expands on the traditional future land use map by instead using a “placetypes” approach. Ten placetypes help define Aurora by creating unique places with their own characteristics, including development character, scale, form, and function. This approach provides a more comprehensive vision for different types of neighborhoods, mixed-use activity centers, and other distinctive districts, and offers a great deal of flexibility and potential for innovation.

The city has already initiated several of the recommended action items contained Aurora Places. Small area planning projects, a citywide housing study, and a complete streets policy and guidelines are in progress, just months after adoption. The placetypes defined in Aurora Places are helping to shape zoning and development standards contained in the city’s draft Unified Development Code. The placetypes map is already frequently cited in discussions with prospective developers.

The Aurora Places Comprehensive Plan can be found on the city’s website at AuroraGov.org.
 

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