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The Setting

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The City of Cheyenne is located in Southeastern Wyoming within Laramie County (see Figure 1). In 2003 the Cheyenne area (the planning area for PlanCheyenne) was home to more than 79,000 people and accounted for 90% of the total population in Laramie County. Over the next 20 years, Cheyenne could grow to a population of anywhere from 103,500 to more than 135,000 residents depending on rate of growth. Increasingly Cheyenne is viewed as being part of the Front Range economy and growth trends (the Front Range stretches from Denver, CO to Cheyenne). The service sector (professional, food, and retail services) accounts for 30 percent of all jobs in Laramie County, while the government sector accounts for 29 percent of all jobs. The local unemployment rate in 2004 in the County was 3.8 percent. The top five employers in the Cheyenne Area are F.E Warren AFB, the State of Wyoming, the U.S. Government, Laramie County School District No. 1, and United Medical Centers.

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PlanCheyenne is the result of a coordinated effort between the City of Cheyenne, Laramie County, and the Cheyenne Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) to address future growth in the area while completing several plans at once (Land Use Plan, Transportation Plan, and Parks & Recreation Plan). The result is an integrated comprehensive development plan for the Cheyenne area.

The Project

Figure 1 - The PlanCheyenne Study Area

PlanCheyenne is an example of interagency/multidisciplinary coordination used to develop a comprehensive development plan. The PlanCheyenne effort lasted three years and integrated land use, transportation, and parks and recreation and open space planning. This comprehensive development plan encouraged intergovernmental interactions and a flexible and forward-looking approach to the planning process. As a result, all the elements in PlanCheyenne are consistent and complimentary.

PlanCheyenne is divided into three primary plans, the Community Plan, the Parks & Recreation Master Plan, and the Transportation Master Plan. Each of these three plans is divided into four primary sections (see Figure 2):

  • Snapshot summarizes the Cheyenne of today, providing information and analysis about the community's population, economy, employment, parks, and transportation.
  • Structure addresses the physical image of the city - its architectural identity and the elements that make its neighborhoods and districts livable and unique.
  • Shape is the plan component that pulls together diverse interests into a preferred land-use alternative. It determines the location of future neighborhoods, commercial centers, parks and recreational facilities, major roads, greenway extensions, and all the other elements that make a community vibrant.
  • Build offers the tools needed to implement the community vision, including a detailed list of strategies and actions, from new development incentives to city ordinances.
Figure 2 - Four building blocks of PlanCheyenne

>Figure 2 - Four building blocks of PlanCheyenne

PlanCheyenne was adopted in 2006 as the official comprehensive development plan and provides a long range vision and sets out a policy to guide future growth and development in the Cheyenne region. The Transportation Master Plan is the current transportation plan for the Cheyenne MPO.

PlanCheyenne is fostering changes in the community. For example the City of Cheyenne is overhauling its development regulations by creating a Unified Development Code that is correlating land uses with transportation network standards. This will provide a comprehensive set of Smart Growth regulations that will build Cheyenne in the future.

The Cheyenne MPO provided technical and financial assistance for this effort, including one dedicated staff member to help facilitate and direct the plan. In all the MPO, City, County, and Parks & Recreation contributed $335,000 to fund PlanCheyenne. The local agency staff worked side by side with the consultants as an extension of their team to take the project beyond the basic scope and turn it into something truly useful for the community.

The Process

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Public involvement was a high priority in the PlanCheyenne planning process. One source of community input and direction came from the Vision2020 effort. This effort in 2002 created a planning vision for the area, provided a strategic direction, and set the foundation for the PlanCheyenne process. The public was involved with developing a future vision for Cheyenne. Public participation included two design charrettes, several workshops, 11 community meetings and a scenario-building exercise to help determine the future direction for the community. Three scenarios were developed through SimCity exercises to help the public understand what the outcomes of their decisions might be. A community design handbook was created using input from the charrettes.

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Marketing of the PlanCheyenne planning process was critical to its success. By using educational tools and marketing techniques, the planning team was able to advance the community's vision. The team developed a public participation matrix describing the various events, identifying their purpose, and then quantifying the benefits. Activities were ranked according to their roles in generating excitement, providing information, allowing for diverse public involvement, and meeting legal requirements. The planning team worked with over 50 stakeholder meetings and presentations to get a broad cross section of the community on board. The team provided clearly articulated information in a format that was accessible and easy to read.

Regular updates on the PlanCheyenne process were posted on its website, and by sending postcards and e-mails. A "Blitz Week" of events, ranging from a dozen radio appearances and 40 plan presentations to civic clubs, to hosting in-person "listening stations" at local grocery stores, high schools, and the public library, promoted awareness as the planning process began. Outreach to young people and citizens of typically underrepresented sections of the community were another part of the process. For example three Laramie County Community College professors structured their course curriculums around PlanCheyenne.

Lessons Learned

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The staff involved with PlanCheyenne highlighted the need to have local staff dedicated to localizing the plan and building in the tools needed for implementing the plan. Other communities should not expect a consultant will be able to add the local flavor to personalize the plan. A full partnership of local staff and consultants is integral to achieve a great product. PlanCheyenne was also successful because it was built on public involvement.

Trying this at Home

A commitment by all stakeholders to cooperate is essential to replicate the PlanCheyenne development. The staff involved with PlanCheyenne remarked this is probably one of the most difficult things to achieve. The agencies involved with PlanCheyenne were able to achieve a common goal through close communication and continued cooperation. In Cheyenne the close working relationships between the agencies helped bridge the gap.

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Matt Ashby, AICP
Director of Urban Planning
City of Cheyenne, Wyoming
(307) 637-6271

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