PlanCOS Chapter Eight: Adaptable Implementation

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Responding to Changing Conditions

In order for the Comprehensive PlanA comprehensive plan is a guiding document that provides a framework for city policies and priorities regarding the physical development of the city. It is a long-range vision of what we want our city to become and is a tool for making decisions about how that vision should be achieved. It outlines strategic steps to make the vision a reality and provides targeted and strategic planning of the physical development of the city. to be a useful and relevant document, it must be regularly referred to, applied, and implemented. The most fundamental way in which PlanCOS can be implemented is through an adaptable but systematic approach that aligns key City decisions, processes, regulations, and standards with the objectives of this Plan and its overall vision. In this manner, the day-to-day decisions regarding development will effectively result in a physical environment that becomes an expression of our planning objectives. PlanCOS has been created and is expected to be used in ways that are adaptable to future trends, conditions, and choices that are not entirely predictable. Alignment with the overall vision of this Plan is the most important goal and outcome.

Equally important is the need for a process of monitoring the implementation of PlanCOS. This effort will provide information on how well the policy objectives are working, where there are opportunities for additional modification, and whether certain elements are not working at all. This monitoring process should also provide meaningful information for decision-makers to ensure that the Plan remains an effective and useful tool.

This chapter also summarizes key projects and tools that should be implemented to achieve the PlanCOS vision and goals. These recommended projects and tasks represent high priority efforts that will significantly improve the link between policy objectives and real-world implementation.

Using this Plan

We expect this Plan to be used for three primary purposes:

  1. To review larger and discretionary land use applications for alignment with our overall land use vision and applicable goals and policies in conjunction with the City Zoning Code and any applicable topical or sub-area plans of the City. 
  2. As a source of direction 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 (PPRTA) and Trails Open Space and Parks Sales Tax (TOPS);
    4. Support for grant applications and community partnerships; and
    5. A source of recommendations for prioritization within ongoing City Strategic Plans.
  3. To monitor the success of the Plan and adapt where necessary to ensure that we are always making our city better.

Adaptable Plan

This Plan reflects a great deal of effort by both experts and the broader community in analyzing and thinking about the trends and assumptions that will impact our physical development, and how we expect to address them. However, we recognize that our land use future and the development market are not fully predictable. Therefore, the Plan is designed and intended to be used adaptively in response to changing conditions, circumstances, and markets. Overall alignment with the themes and goals of this Plan should be the paramount consideration.

Online Document

The full power and utility of this Plan is best experienced in its online form. In this format the Plan is designed to be fully navigable, searchable, and interconnected with hyperlinks. Relevant text and graphics are designed to be easily excerpted for applicable use. The maps and graphics are interactive in order to enhance their value. Connections are available and will be maintained with other supporting documents, including the area or topic-specific plans that support this Plan and are essential to its full and effective use and implementation. 

Connecting with Our Citizens

Communication and engagement with our residents is essential to implementing the PlanCOS vision. Effective citizen input not only keeps the City informed on community preferences, but also builds a sense of community. In order to become a national leader in communications and enhanced civic engagement, the City should use this Plan to support and implement new and creative technologies and techniques for trusted, informative, and efficient communication between citizens and the City. PlanCOS supports and recommends the development and implementation of cutting edge communications tools and platforms, such as Open Data. The intent is to transparently and effectively allow citizens to learn about and comment on planning and physical development activities they are interested in or that potentially impact them. It is especially important to design these systems and strategies to effectively engage traditionally under-represented constituencies. The content of PlanCOS is expected to be used and delivered in ways that allow it to function as a constructive portal for these enhanced citizen connections.

PlanCOS and the Development Review Process

This document is expected to be used in the development review process in accordance with City Code and particularly as described and set forth in the City’s Zoning Ordinance and its supporting documents, as these are amended. Generally, it is the intent of this Plan to be used in conjunction with higher level discretionary land use decisions in cases when the Code requires a specific finding of alignment with the Comprehensive Plan. Also, generally, the applicability of this document is intended to be most pronounced and significant with the higher level and initial stages of the development approval process (e.g. at the annexation, master planA plan for the development of a portion of the city that contains proposed land uses, a generalized transportation system, and the relationship of the area included in the plan to surrounding property., re-zoning, and concept plan levels).

Using the Vision Map

As described in Chapter 1, the Vision Map illustrates and communicates the overall vision, themes, ideas, and priorities of PlanCOS city-wide. 

This Vision Map is intended to graphically represent key elements of our desired future in way that captures the essence of our big ideas and priorities. The Vision Map and the corresponding Framework Maps provide a high level window into our desired mix, character, and location of our neighborhoods, places, industries, transportation, utilities, cultural landmarks, and landscapes. They are advisory, not regulatory and do not replace existing zoning or development entitlements. The maps provide a starting point for conversations about city initiatives and development proposals by illustrating how specific proposals might fit into our overall community framework. 

City Strategic Initiatives, Budgeting Capital Improvement Programs, and Code Amendments

In addition to use in development review, this Plan will be used to its fullest practical and applicable extent, as a guide to city-initiated regulatory changes, and with other projects, programs, and relevant funding choices. It is expected that this Plan will be consulted and be reflected in the priorities of the City’s Strategic Plan consistent with available resources and near term priorities. Likewise, it is expected that the highest priority recommendations of this Plan will be considered during development of annual budgets and multi-year capital improvement programs. In particular, this document should be consulted for guidance in designing both the structure and the proposed uses of funding for new and extended tax or fee ballot initiatives, including but limited to potential extensions of PPRTA or the TOPS voter-initiated funding program.

A critical and essential role of this document is to serve as a framework for future updates of the City Code including the Zoning and Subdivision Codes, both in the form of comprehensive updates and targeted revisions. In addition to the provisions of City Code most pertinent to land use, other proposed changes to Code should be evaluated for consistency with this Plan, when relevant and applicable.

Relationship to Other Plans

PlanCOS is a high-level, long-range and city-wide plan. Its success and implementation will rely on more detailed area or topically-specific master plans and related documents. In conjunction with PlanCOS, these more detailed plans should be generally relied on for specific land use or topical guidance in cases where they remain applicable and relevant. In cases where there is a clear or potential conflict between PlanCOS and a publicly initiated master plan, all relevant documents should be applied in context, but with consideration for the overarching goals of PlanCOS. As publicly initiated master plans of various types are created or updated, the vision and goals of PlanCOS should be considered and reasonably incorporated. The Utilities Board provides direction for physical infrastructure development coordination with the Municipal Government through utilities governance policies.
In cases where a privately initiated land use master plan is approved and active for a property, that document should continue to be relied on as primary guidance for zoning and related land use and transportation decisions. However, PlanCOS should be considered and reasonably incorporated in any new or amended privately initiated land use master plans. Some of the individual master plans or categories of plans that are most pertinent to a particular chapter are highlighted in Chapters 2 through 7 of this Plan. In some cases, more specific guidance for the coordinated use of a specific plan is also provided.


Over the next 20 years, PlanCOS envisions limited but strategic additional outward expansion of city limits, and a focus on developing and re-developing property currently within city boundaries while becoming more proactive in working to incorporate existing enclaves and near enclaves into the city. Additional strategic annexations around the periphery of the city may be considered if they will have a fiscal benefit to the city, will be well aligned with existing and planned city infrastructure, or will support the primary economic development objectives of the city and regional partners. The City’s 2006 Annexation Plan should be systematically evaluated and updated, consistent with this overall vision.

Annexation policies should be evaluated in coordination with Colorado Springs Utilities. To fully realize the City’s goal for more fiscally sustainable and resilient land use, communication should be opened with El Paso County and surrounding municipalities about potential inter-governmental agreements focused on the shared benefits of inter-jurisdictional land use, service, and revenue sharing coordination.